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‘The Damsel’ Will Be Missed

It was in our second issue of Buffalo Rising that we covered the opening of Damsel in a Dress. That was in the fall of ’03. It seems like an eternity since that time. I still remember how excited we were that Kym Mathis was bringing a fashionable look to Elmwood and the city. Thought her space was only 300sq’ feet, the heart that she put into the space was impressive. Over the years Kym introduced many designer labels to Buffalo. She also blazed a trail for other fashion-minded entrepreneurs to dig their own heels into the blossoming shopping district.
I sat down with Kym this morning at Solid Grounds Food Gallery. She wanted to say a few things about her stint on Elmwood. She told me, ”… it’s a bittersweet goodbye. I opened up just in time for the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. I remember that there was a big fanfare. This was before people began referring to me as ‘The Damsel’. I wanted to bring an upscale and contemporary look to Elmwood. Since that time I have outfitted many young ladies for their first dances, or other special days. I’ve also been told that I was influential to others when it came to opening their stores (room and BeYouTiful to name a couple). People were excited to see someone take a chance with fashion, and it paid off for a while. I’d like to think I contributed to the growth of the avenue.”
Even though Kym is closing her shop, she is happy to inform her customers that she has been sought out by the retailer, Forever 21, to head up the district as Visual Manager. That means that she’ll be staying in Buffalo and traveling for a while. “I was fortunate to land the job, and it made it easier to close the shop,” Kym told me. “The life of an entrepreneur can be tough. Elmwood is a bit of ‘smoke and mirrors’ sometimes. Everyone thinks you’ve got it made if you have a store on the strip. It’s a life of ups and downs, and after a while it can become tough on anyone. In hindsight I would have brought in a business partner to share in the long hours and the corporate business side of things. Sometimes when the street looks busy, just look at what people are carrying around… cups of coffee can be more abundant than shopping bags on particular days. But that’s part of being in business for yourself… being aware that it’s either feast or famine. I opened Damsel with my own resources and I tried to keep the dream alive for as long as I could manage.”
I asked Kym if she had anything to say to all of her customers and she replied,” Of course I want to say ‘Thank You’ for the four and a half fabulous years. I’m off to new adventures, but I may be back someday (she said with a smile). I am curious to see what will happen with the waterfront… for now I need to step back and regroup. I’m going to miss you guys… and I want to help the other businesses that I have come to know. I have a lot of friends that I have made on the street… I would love to keep helping out other businesses with their windows and displays.”
Of course (the BR in me) I had to end the interview with Kym on one last note. I sheepishly inquired whether anyone had been looking at her former storefront, upon which she smiled and said, “Tell Anyone interested to call DS Brown Property and Management for any rental questions… 716-885-2111.”
Thanks for being a driving force on the street Kym. Elmwood will miss you.

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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