Rarely does the reopening of a retail store bring so much awesomeness to a street. Mother and daughter team, Jennifer and Kilby Bronstein have a created a stunning retail destination on Elmwood Avenue that lives up to all of the highly anticipated expectations.
First off, the inside of Half & Half Boutique looks like it should be housed along some breezy back alley in Nantucket. “I wanted it to look like a mix between Venice Beach and the West Village,” said Kilby. “I used to live in SoHo, and I loved browsing all of the shops there. We wanted to brighten this place up, so we painted the beams white and opened it up a lot. We have a showroom in back where we can host monthly yoga sessions, guys and girls shopping parties, and even neighborhood get-togethers.”
Half & Half is unlike any other shop of its kind, primarily because Jennifer and Kilby are constantly up to something to gain customer loyalty. “Try this eco-friendly water from Boxed Water Is Better,” Kilby said as she handed over a water that actually comes in an earth friendly container. “If a customer is thirsty, we stock this water. Soon we will be carrying lunches from Fit ‘n Fresh. We will sell healthy lunches (including pre-made salads) to customers who don’t have a lot of time to shop and then go out and eat. We always have coffee and tea to offer. Between the men’s and women’s clothing lines that you just can’t find anywhere else locally, or the various convenience offerings, we consider ourselves a fun and different lifestyle one-stop shop.”
Once I got the lay of the land retail-wise from Kilby, I got the bigger picture from her mother, Jennifer. “We bought the building and redid all of the apartments,” she told me. “Then we redid the facade of the entire building, which we think adds a lot to the street. I bought the building next door – a 100 year old former mortuary (inset left) – and I’m going to convert it to a commercial space on the first floor. We’re putting a parking lot in back of Half & Half for customer convenience. We are removing the garden in back and transferring it to the front lawn of the old mortuary. We want these properties to speak for the neighborhood. We want them to represent something that is classic and respectful of the block… something that we can all be proud of.”
As I was speaking to Jennifer regarding all sorts of future plans that she has for her two buildings, sculptor David Derner walked up to us (inset left). David is the guy working on transplanting the garden, and he is also the artist who created the “Fallen Leaves” work of art embedded in the sidewalk in front of the defunct mortuary (see here). Between the sidewalk, the new store, the mortuary plans, the handsome facade and the garden, I couldn’t imagine that this crew was up to anything else. But they were!
“Look over here!” exclaimed Jennifer, as she guided me to the other side of the building (inset right). “We’re going to get the neon moons lit back up at the top of the building, and we’re going to have new murals painted. It’s going to look fantastic, especially with the dramatic new lights that hit the front of the store at night. It’s all part of making this a beautiful destination that people will notice.”
Before I knew it, I was wrapped up in planning a party, talking about sponsors, envisioning walls, and I think Jennifer mentioned something about taking over the world?
To me, this is the energy that’s going to make Elmwood Avenue the fetching place that it should be. With the Bronstein family, there are no ‘ifs and buts”… just a lot of ‘ands’. That’s the sort of spirit that any commercial district would clamor for. These two gals are a tour de force to be sure. You want to see something get done on your block? Just take a page from the book that Jennifer and Kilby are writing on Urbanism 101. “I’m so excited to be investing in the city,” stated Jennifer. “We have a lot of planning ahead… we’re just getting started.”
Half & Half | 1088 Elmwood Avenue | Buffalo NY | (716) 239-1652 | Facebook | Dogs welcome