When Daniel Leberer peers through a pair of eyeglass frames, it’s as if he sees more than just what lies directly in front of him. That’s because as much as Leberer is about selling unique designer eyewear, he is equally if not more, passionate about the Buffalo community, which is why his family operated, Amherst-based store Visualeyes will be opening a second location on Elmwood Avenue. The store will be called Visualeyes City.
For over 12 years, Leberer, a St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute and Erie Community College alum, and his team, which includes his cousin David, nephew Ian and wife Betsy, have conducted business out of the 3,000-square foot Main Street location with an emphasis on providing brands from all over the world. However, the Visualeyes journey actually began when it first opened its door on Hertel Avenue in March 1988. At the time, there was a need for more building space to accommodate additional services, most notably eye examinations provided by his cousin, hence the move. 27 years later, the Leberers hope to appeal to those who shop in the city, on a street that many frequent for trendy boutiques and restaurants.
“People have already poked their heads in and asked what the site is being fixed up to become,” laughs Leberer. “People don’t tend to come up to our Amherst store and look through the window. In Elmwood Village people like to walk to shop, walk to buy groceries. We want them to be able to walk to their optometrist.”
While Visualeyes City will be a tenth of the size of the Amherst location, customers should still expect a sizeable range of products exclusive to the area without the price tag markups. Leberer and his wife take pride in the longstanding relationships they’ve forged with select manufacturers, and it is evident in the way they rattle off brands such as Lindberg, Maui Jim, Oliver Peoples, Mykita, Face a Face and Robert Marc, all of which will be available (among others) when the store opens its doors in a couple of weeks. In a time when clear-cut mission statements are the aim, perhaps Visualeyes City reads: To provide exquisite flavor to a major market, without the need to board a plane to taste it.
When asked why the word city was added to the name of the upcoming site, Leberer’s voice heightens and his eyes slightly water with glee.
“We added “city” to convey our excitement over the thought of being a part of the resurgence that is happening in our city. Elmwood Ave. is so vibrant, as are the streets around The Village. We want our new location to acknowledge and honor this movement.”
Betsy seconds her husband’s delight, as she is already looking forward to collaborating with other businesses. “It isn’t just about us, but also supporting and working with other places down there,” she adds. “We can’t wait to do stuff like trunk shows, and just be in that circle.”
Behind the decision to expand the reach of the business to a new demographic is a vision deep-rooted in an undying affection for those who call the 716 home. Some may label it just another business move, while the Leberers see it as much more than that.
They are simply seeing Buffalo for what it is, and what it can be. No hindsight needed.
Visualeyes City will be located at 735 Elmwood Avenue Buffalo, New York (Look for its opening during the holiday season!)
Amherst location: 3945 Main Street Amherst, New York 14226 (716)832-3452.
Lead Amherst shop photo: Facebook