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Shopping For Retail Downtown

Earlier Saturday morning I spent some time driving around downtown looking for quality retail spaces. I was trying to help out a young woman who has been searching for the perfect location for a women’s professional clothing boutique. As we drove around I asked her what some of her requirements were and she said, “Chippewa is the cutoff. My ideal spot would be somewhere on Court Street… though Cathedral Park (near DT Globe Market) is appealing too.”
The future shop-owner was wary of being located directly on Main Street. “I heard recently that the adding of cars on the street is now five years down the road,” she told me. “Until I know what is happening with that project I don’t want to risk moving onto Main. I like the idea of being near Main, but it would really have to be the ideal setup.” Five years? Looks like things may have changed a bit… hopefully we’ll have an update on that rumor shortly. I asked her what she envisioned her shop being and she told me, “Actually, I was hoping that BRO viewers would be willing to help scout out some ideal locations for a 1100 sq’ store that specializes in reasonably priced women’s business attire and accessories. I want to sell a suit for $150. Mike Attardo’s store, Get Dressed, is a good example of what can work for men downtown. He has quality merchandise at great prices, and that’s the direction I want to go. I would be willing to dabble in some dress-down Friday casual-wear if there was a demand, and I would like to experiment with some higher end pieces too… just to see if there was an interest.”
The dream of owning a women’s boutique in downtown Buffalo has been a dream of hers for quite some time. “I remember taking the Metro Rail down here when I was younger and shopping at the few remaining department stores,” she reminisced. “It was such an incredible experience. I’ve been working on a business plan for four years now… and I think that the time is right to go for it. I thought that the business plan would be the hard part and that finding a location would be easy. That has not been the case at all though. Many of the property owners are looking for long-term leases. That might not be so bad, but they are also asking me to pay for the build-out. Have you seen the condition of the storefronts down here? You need a lot of imagination. There are mirrored windows, leaking ceilings… it’s no wonder that no one is opening up in some places… you look through a window and cringe. Why can’t the owners fix them up? There’s a lot of potential, but they want the storeowner to burden all of the risk. I think the fact that I want to open downtown says that I believe in the city… I think that there is a demand for what I will offer. I am investing my own money into the product, and I know that the displays are my responsibility… but the drywall, ceilings, and windows, and a long term lease?”
When I first told the young entrepreneur that I would sit down with her to discuss retail in Buffalo I was extremely excited to be meeting with someone that was looking at taking a risk downtown. I too was hoping that if she could find the right spot, her business could act as a catalyst for others to follow. We did pinpoint a few locations that she is going to investigate come Monday, though she is still very open to suggestions from BRO readers.
If you are a female professional working downtown, what sort of things do you think she would be remiss not to carry? If you are familiar with the storefronts, where might she not have looked? Put yourself in her shoes… what can we do to get this new business up and running by August? She is looking to open Monday through Friday to start, with hours from 8am to 6pm.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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