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Buy into Buffalo: Second Sail

Black Friday is here. At this point we’ve been bombarded with thousands of commercials telling us to shop earlier (as early as midnight last night) in order to get the best deals. While the hoards are at the gate, there are others who are committed to not spending a dime on a day that typically gave struggling retailers an opportunity to get their books from the red to the black. Black Friday has turned into a day of gluttony for shoppers who have altogether missed the message of the holidays.

If you are heading out on Black Friday to shop, or any day from now until Christmas for that matter, try to keep a couple of things in mind. We’ve all heard that shopping local keeps more dollars circulating in WNY. It goes beyond that. The smaller businesses also go out of their way to support local entrepreneurs such as Jason Schwinger (photo). Jason recently launched a line of bags that are manufactured right here in Buffalo, using secondhand sails that have been kissed by the winds of Lake Erie. The bags are available at Clutch (photo) on Elmwood Avenue, as well as online.

I’ve been carrying around a Second Sail messenger bag for a few weeks now, and I can’t tell you how good it feels to be able to flip the label over to show people the ‘Made in Buffalo’ side of the tag. I love to watch people’s expressions when they ask about the bag and I flip over the tag – they immediately ask where I bought it. Second Sail bags are not only made from cast off WNY sails, they are stitched right here on the East Side of the city, thanks to an entrepreneur who thought about Buffalo every step along the way. Some of you may recall that Jason Schwinger is the same guy who brought kayak rentals to the Inner Harbor. I always wondered what he was up to on those rainy days… now I know. “Actually, it was through friends active in the sailing community,” he told me. “I realized that there were acres of ‘used’ sailcloth just sitting around in storage.  The material is all so different and unique from sail to sail – it was a no-brainer, just asking to be repurposed into something – tote bags, messenger bags and city bags!”

Often times we are not aware of how many people benefit from a local product launch. There’s graphic design work and website development, not to mention the company that manufactures the item. Then there are the retail sales to think about. Shortly after Jason put the finishing touches on the bags he walked into Clutch, where boutique owner Sue Marfino gladly picked them up and even dedicated an entire wall unit to the line. As with many other local shops, Sue has always made it a point to invest in local products – being able to tell customers that a product is made right here in Buffalo goes a long way. The final leg of the journey ends with you, the almighty customer. When all is said and done, it is the customer who will go out of his or her way to become an educated consumer… remember those? As for the sail bags, they are built Buffalo tough, with material that is both rain and wind proof. Of course they will be coveted by sailors, but at the same time they are also perfect for landlubbers who spend time outdoors. Best of all, proud Buffalonians can now walk around town touting the totes that bear the true Buffalo brand: Second Sails – Made in Buffalo. 

This is the first in a series of local products that I will be featuring this holiday season. If you are aware of other locally made products that you would like to see on BRO, please send me an email.

Clutch Accessories
814 Elmwood Ave,
Buffalo, NY 14222, USA

Written by RaChaCha


RaChaCha is a Garbage Plate™ kid making his way in a Chicken Wing world. Since 2008, he's put over a hundred articles on here, and he asked us to be sure to thank you for reading. So, thank you for reading. You may also have seen his freelance byline in Artvoice, where he writes under the name his daddy gave him [Ed: Send me a check, and I might reveal what that is]. When he's not writing, RaChaCha is an urban planner, a rehabber of houses, and a community builder. He co-founded the Buffalo Mass Mob, and would love to see you at the next one. He represents Buffalo Young Preservationists on the Trico roundtable. If you try to demolish a historic building, he might have something to say about that. He is a proud AmeriCorps alum.

Things you may not know about RaChaCha (unless you read this before): "Ra Cha Cha" is a nickname of his hometown. (Didn't you know that? Do you live under a rock?) He's a political junkie (he once worked for the president of the Monroe County Legislature), but we don't really let him write about politics on here. He helped create a major greenway in the Genesee Valley, and worked on early planning for the Canalway Trail. He hopes you enjoy biking and hiking on those because that's what he put in all that work for. He was a ringleader of the legendary "Chill the Fill" campaign to save Rochester's old downtown subway tunnel. In fact, he comes from a long line of troublemakers. An ancestor fought at Bunker Hill, and a relative led the Bear Flag Revolt in California. We advise you to remember this before messing with him in the comments. He worked on planning the Rochester ARTWalk, and thinks Buffalo should have one of those, too (write your congressman).

You can also find RaChaCha (all too often, we frequently nag him) on the Twitters at @HeyRaChaCha. Which is what some people here yell when they see him on the street. You know who you are.

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