There’s a real buzz going on these days on Grant Street. A changing of the guard brings with it some new heart, fire, and soul, as we will be seeing in weeks to come. One of the latest entrepreneurs to throw her hat in the ring is Marissa Bona (Owner, Manager, Friend), who just opened Paloma Exchange in the former Black Dots location (Black Dots moved across the street). In fact, Bona says that the owners of the vinyl shop suggested that she take a look at their former storefront. That sort of team building and support was just one of the reasons that she moved back to Buffalo after living in Florida and Cleveland over the last 8 years.
Bona, who is originally from Buffalo, tells me that she missed her hometown mainly for the weather and family. She says that the time that she spent in Florida was way too hot, and that she didn’t like summering indoors. She missed the change of seasons the most. She also missed her family, and figured that if she was living in Cleveland, where she went to school, she might as well live in Buffalo since there are so many similarities.
Over the years, Bona found that she was drawn to fashion, which is one of the reasons that she went to school to get a BFA in Print Materials, with a minor in Fiber and Materials. While she worked at a retail shop in Cleveland, her employer took her under her wing and taught her the ins and outs of running a successful business. She ended up bringing that acumen back home with her to Buffalo.
After a stint of selling vintage wares online (since moving home a year ago), Bona found herself sitting in an apartment “filled to the gills” with clothing and accessories. The accumulation of clothing was due to spending her free time thrifting, and visiting estate sales. It was while standing in the midst of piles of the dresses, pants, sweaters, shoes, purses, belts, etc., that she realized her true calling… that’s when she began to orient her energies towards opening her own business.
I find it shocking and rather sad that over the years we have seen a waning in the vintage shopping department in the city of Buffalo. Where there was once a bounty of thrift boutiques on Elmwood, Hertel, and Allen, there are only a couple remaining. That is why it is so exciting to see Paloma Exchange opening on Grant Street. Plus, the shop is ideally situated on a corner surrounded by like-minded enterprises. Not only is Black Dots across the street, so is Gypsy Parlor. And Rust Belt Books is not far away. There’s a real opportunity here, to create a thriving second hand shopping destination in Buffalo.
There’s also a fun synergy with Gypsy Parlor, once you consider the name Paloma:
The paloma (Spanish for “dove”) is a tequila-based cocktail. This drink is most commonly prepared by mixing tequila, lime juice, and a grapefruit-flavored soda such as Fresca, Squirt, or Jarritos and served on the rocks with a lime wedge.
Heck, who wouldn’t want to do some thrifting on Grant Street, and then stop on over to Gypsy Parlor for an inspired cocktail? Hopefully that might come to fruition someday?
Bona says that while she grew up in Clarence, she knew that she was going to live and work in the city upon her return. “We love this little pocket of awesome businesses we’ve landed in, here on the street, that are embracing the neighborhood with open arms and bringing fresh local vision to the West Side,” she says.
Paloma Exchange is in the business of buying and selling vintage clothing and accessories for men and women. There is not a consignment element, but Bona does purchase goods outright. She says that at the moment the hottest threads are “anything Buffalo, sports, cool old t-shirts, big chunky sweaters, and denim – they don’t make denim like they used to, so people are always on the hunt for quality vintage denim.”
Not only does Paloma Exchange have great vintage finds, it also has a classy vibe with uniform wooden hangers, large changing rooms, clearly labeled garments, and a refreshing playlist of music (not surprising).
Instead of heading to the mall, the next time that you’re looking for throwback looks, be more environmentally conscious and head to your local thrift store. As Bona says, you’re going to find quality merchandise at a much better bargain.”