If you haven’t had a chance to get over to the latest Queen City Pop-Up, the time is now. I just had a great shopping experience, and came away a fan of three entrepreneurial endeavors, all under one roof – Ten Thousand Villages, Baskets by Ms Regina and Najah Sauces. Each of these enterprises offers so much in their own way.
To start, I have been a fan of Ten Thousand Villages for a long, long time. The fair trade retailer works with craftspeople from developing countries who make wonderful products and get paid accordingly for their skills and efforts. It was volunteer worker Tom Lucia who greeted me and showed me around.
Before I knew it, I found a number of small gifts for my wife, including some beautiful heart stones, and a cute little chef doll on a key chain. Although Ten Thousand Villages has been around for years, the organization is test marketing the city/downtown to see if there might be a further fit and synergy for something else?
You never know! The point of the pop-up is to test the waters – to provide experience, to test the market (free rent), and to draw attention to vacant retail spaces in downtown Buffalo. It is interesting to note that one of the former pop-up retailers, MMW Style, now occupies a permanent spot next door (best sunglasses in town!).
After I finished shopping at Ten Thousand Villages, Tom introduced me to Bisharo Ali, proprietor of Najah. Bisharo, who is of Somali descent, makes a variety of foods, including bottled tamarind and fenugreek salsas, pitted dates, fenugreek seeds, and tamarind seedless paste. After taste testing the salsas, I was hooked!
Not only is every ingredient organic, Bisharo made sure to point out the various healing properties, especially with the tamarind. I bought a couple of bottles, which I can’t wait to break into when I get home. Bisharo just signed a lease at the Broadway Market, where she plans on increasing her production. If you have a market (Co-op, Wegman’s, Etc.), and you’re looking for some absolutely fantastic locally made salsas, jump on this one as quick as you can! Otherwise, head over and stock up for your personal enjoyment. These salsas are completely different (variety of spice levels), and out of this world.
Next up was Regina Carter, whose business is called Baskets by Ms. Regina. Regina is in the business of sourcing a wide variety of products, mixing and matching them, and then creating gift baskets. From a men’s shaving theme to kids’ coloring baskets, Regina whips them together and sets them out in the storefront.
Regina started putting together baskets for her friends and family, and the incredible response led her to this pop-up opportunity. Personally, I wasn’t in the market for a basket… but Regina did have some one-off items that I bought, and then she took all of the rest of the gifts that I had purchased and made a wonderful shrink-wrapped basket. Regina told me that part of her business is making custom creations, and shrink-wrapping whatever gift items that people hand over to her, so it all worked out perfectly.
As you can readily see, this was a super special shopping experience that could not have come at a better time – my wedding anniversary is on 716!
At some point, you’re going to be in the market for a gift. When that time comes, pay this eclectic bunch a visit. And do it soon, because the pop-up ends September 1, 2017.
Queen City Pop-Up | Brisbane Building – 403 Main Street (entrance on Lafayette Square) | Facebook