Two former school teachers have come together to create a play space for toddlers in Black Rock. Maureen Rudzinski and Carrie Borodzik McDermid have opened Little Buffalo, where young children and their parents (or babysitters, grandparents, etc.) can come together in a social setting that is unlike anything else in the city.
“Carrie and I both have kids,” Maureen told me. “And when they were young, we were always looking for a place like this in the city, but there wasn’t one. So we began visiting different places, doing our research, and putting together a strong business plan. We also set out to find a building to purchase and came across 633 Hertel Avenue in Black Rock, with the help of our husbands. The building was formerly two offices, with a super ugly facade. We have now fixed up the interior, and will be fixing up the rest of the outside of the building come spring.”
Along with the purchase of the building came a stroke of luck. In the garage, a tenant just happened to be a furniture builder who helped them to build out a number of their interactive play arrangements in the 1200 square foot space. The end result is a bright, wide open footprint where the little guys can roam at will, interacting with a wide array of curated toys, slides, tunnels, and climbing places. Kids can also pretend that they they are vets, or can shop at the pretend market – the themes are always changing, according to Maureen, to keep the tykes on their toes.
Maureen (inset photo left) and Carrie, who both live in Buffalo, set out to roll out the best of all child play aspects that they could find, including the hours of operation. Their first play time is at 9am, because kids get up early – a consideration that is not always taken into account. Yesterday, when they opened their door for the first time, families were already lined up, eagerly awaiting what was in store. Most interactive child play businesses don’t open until 10am or later, Maureen told me.
Along with plenty of playtime arrangements, the plan is also to offer a range of classes and resources for families, such as community events, information sessions, birthday parties, child development classes, kids yoga and sensory art, music and movement sessions, and mommy and me classes (and daddy and grandparents and me).
“We are aware that these types of play areas exist in places like Brooklyn and Denver,” explained Maureen. “So we wanted to make sure that families in Buffalo had the same sort of resources. We call it a ’boutique play space’, that is cozy and manageable – you can always see where the kids are, from every corner of the room. In the back room, we have coffee, onsite laundry, water, wrapped snacks for sale, diapers, extra socks, potty seats, and other family conveniences. There’s a maximum of 20 children, which means that there’s room for everyone to play.”
Little Buffalo is not a drop off daycare facility. It is a place where children and their caretakers can get out of the house, into a socially charged play atmosphere – something that everyone needs every once in a while (both kids and adults).
Yesterday was the soft opening of Little Buffalo, which was apparently already a big success thanks to the willful determination of two mother-teachers who knew exactly what was needed to make young families with small children and babies happy.
This week soft opening:
- Tuesday-Friday 9-11:30, 12-2:30pm
- Thursday evening 5pm-7:30
- Saturday morning 10am-1pm
Photographer Chelsea Modern Images