A pseudo Buffalo boutique and café has opened near Founding Fathers at 387 Franklin Street in The Florentine Building. Fred Handmade Wares + Gifts is dedicated to artisanal products that are handmade, local, and sustainable/eco-friendly. Owners Katie and Kyle Toth also incorporate found objects and upcycled housewares into their inspirational array of merchandise.
Currently, there are over 30 local artisans featured at Fred. “Eventually we would like to have 100 artisans,” mentioned Katie, who has an affinity for handmade goods. That’s because Katie herself is an artisan. She’s the founder of Trebird Skateboard Jewelry (see here). It also happens that Kyle is a creative entrepreneur who already occupied a studio in The Florentine Building – Lightbox Media Labs. Lightbox (website) is a multi-media community work-space for professional freelancers, creatives, and digital marketing entrepreneurs. Therefore, it was a natural fit for ‘Fred’ to occupy the vacant corner spot that overlooks the Cyclorama Building. The corner location is also how Fred got its name. “The name is a combination of the two streets, Franklin & Edward,” Katie explained. “Trebird is the same – Tremont & Bird is the corner I lived on when I started everything.”
Looking around Fred, it’s easy to find inspiration on many levels. Each product has a story behind it – a person behind it. “See the sun over there,” said Kyle [pointing]. “It’s made by Joe Mason. He just moved back to Buffalo – his former career was with Sesame Street. Between the front of the building (Fred) and the back of the building where there are six creative companies (Lightbox), we’re supporting local artists, every shape and form.”
To top it off, there’s also a café element incorporated into the plan. Fred offers straight up coffee and pour-overs, featuring roasts from Glen Edith Roastery in Rochester (keeping it regional ya know). There’s even a quaint little coffee bar along the window facing Franklin Street. Eventually Katie and Kyle want to work with a pastry shop or bakery, to serve up some yummy treats to go along with the coffee offerings, but they are still contemplating which directions to go at the moment.
I’m sure that whatever direction that is, they will find something that fits perfectly with the rest of the formula. That’s because every element of Fred is thought out so well – the colors, the materials, the artisans… everything comes together so nicely. There are products that you just won’t find in other stores, mainly because everything is hand crafted.
When Katie is not busy with customers in the front of the store, she can be found in the back office/studio workshop working on her skateboard jewelry. Being a former shop owner, I can attest to the importance of being able to combine two distinct passions into a collective business concept. Katie and Kyle have brought something to Buffalo that is lighthearted and fun, yet serious in its determination to support deserving artisans that make this city so unique.
A walk through Fred is a journey through the world of Buffalo artisans. There are so many unique products to browse, from hockey puck bottle openers to goat milk soap and balms. Stop on in, grab a cup of coffee, and pick out a couple of wonderful gifts for the holidays. The best part is that you will feel good about supporting a couple of creative entrepreneurs, and also the artisans that live right here in your community.