It was back in November of 2011 when I first caught up with the owners of Buffalo Motor Works, Andre Sadoff (photo left) and Dan Sciolino (see article). Since that time the two have steadily grown their hybrid used car business. When I walked into their business earlier today, they had just sold* their 200th car. While that alone was pretty big news, I was also happy to hear that they had managed to become a licensed auto repair shop, specializing in alternative energy cars. That means that they can now service the cars that they are selling (and any other car for that matter, hybrid or not). “We have sold well over 100 Prii (plural for Prius),” said Dan. “And we’re keeping them on the road.”
Adding to the excitement of the growing business, Andre was able to purchase the 16,000 sq.’ building this past December – a former car show room back in the day. That alone helped to inspire the various directions that the building is now heading. “We’re calling the complex Greenhaus,” Andre told me. “We’re aligning ourselves with other like-minded businesses. Reddy Bike has a space next door. And we’re in the midst of talking to a yoga studio that will move in next door as well. We’re also transitioning the auto showroom into a flex space that will double as an art gallery. We have aligned with a curator for the gallery. During openings, we will move the cars out onto the sidewalk and the people into the gallery.”
If you think that’s exciting news, you aint seen nothin’ yet. Currently, Andre is applying for a construction loan so that he can restore the entire facade of the building into a retail-gallery-auto showroom. Glass bay windows will allow passersby to look inside and see all of the action. Apparently a lot of the building’s character is still intact – the tin ceilings are hidden by the drop ceilings, and there are historic elements waiting to be exposed. Once that happens, Greenhaus will become a focal point of the neighborhood.
“These are businesses that are good for the neighborhood and the planet.”
We’re not done yet. Adding to the artistic interest of the complex, I am told that an artist collaboration is moving into another available space towards the back. It’s going to be a studio workshop dedicated to letterpress, screen printing and graphic design. That deal is still in the process of being inked, but it appears to be a go. That would mean that there would essentially be two cultural attractions within the building. “We all have similar mindsets and interests, including the environmental aspect that was initiated by Buffalo Motor Works,” mentioned Andre. “Keeping with the green theme, the building is currently off the water grid. We use a rain capture system on the roof to access water. The roof water is plumbed into the toilet, the hoses, and the sink. This water is not potable at the moment, but when I build out two apartments upstairs, a new filtration system will be installed. I went to college for urban planning at UB. I was taught that best practice development is to allow these types of projects to evolve organically.”
To say that Greenhaus is abuzz with energy and ideas is an understatement. At the center of it all is a couple of guys who are in the business of getting as many people to drive energy efficient cars as possible. “It’s all about the customer saving money, and saving the environment at the same time,” said Dan. “These are used cars that we get from down south, so the underbodies are in great shape. Since they are used, they are very affordable, between $6K and $10K for a hybrid (2006 to 2010). We have cars in stock, and we find cars for customers (Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius Plug-In, etc). From the savings on the car purchase, and the gas savings, more and more people are looking for these alternatives. Plus we now service the cars, which is an advantage for us and for the customer. That’s why the business keeps growing – we will soon have three lifts and we’re in the market to hire an experienced technician. Eventually our goal is to get into selling and servicing fully electric cars – the hybrid is a stepping stone to get us there.”
Apparently, the hybrid vehicle is also a stepping stone for numerous other ventures and adventures that are unfolding at this very moment. I’d say that the only thing missing is a stand to get a cup of coffee or a juice. “We’re going to be putting a patio out front so that people can sit and relax,” Andre mentioned. “I like the idea of making some beverage available to the tenants and customers. We’re going to have to think about that one.”
*Buffalo Motor Cars does not offer financing, but they do have relationships with Buffalo Cooperative Federal Credit Union and Buffalo Metropolitan Credit Union.