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Shops on Allen Street Come Together

On a misty Autumn evening, I went out to see how it feels to be out and about during this season. We had a quiet spring during the shutdown and a quieter than usual summer with lots of outdoor time. Now I am wondering how to approach the seasons ahead, to answer the call for more time indoors and to consider covid when we go out.

I decided to visit Allen Street and check out some shops between Delaware and Franklin. Since I have always enjoyed my niece, Emily’s honest and droll take on all things fashion and health and beauty, I invited her to come along with me.

She is also good with a camera, not a claim I can make.

We parked on the new streetscape, taking in how spacious the spots are – no worries about touching bumpers while parking. The pedestrian-friendly sidewalk, concrete benches, and enclosed trash cans make a welcoming atmosphere. Luckily, most of the messy construction happened during the shutdown, but a new streetscape is not all this business block has going for it.

Emily and I put on our masks and started out at the French Girl at 87 Allen Street, where owner Dani Weiser showed us the therapeutic lights she uses to treat skin conditions, migraines, chronic pain and Seasonal Affective Disorder. Her shop is colorful and comfortable. She schedules her clients one at a time to ensure their safety.

French Girl
French Girl

Most conditions require several sessions and Dani offers packages for people who commit to a series of treatments with enhanced benefits. The red, blue, yellow, or green lights penetrate deeply to activate the body’s healing potential without any negative side effects. It is painless and relaxing with the client lying down to receive the light therapy. Dani has seen amazing results from healing acne to resolving chronic pain. She loves what she does and said: “When people are looking to heal chronic conditions, this is often the last place they come but when they see the results, they dance out on their way out!”

After touring the salon which also includes spray tanning, we mentioned that we were headed next door to the Allen Street Dress Shop. Dani told us the shop-owner, Denny Webb, was the first person to congratulate her when she opened a year ago. Denny offered support then and has delivered it since. Dani referred to her as the neighborhood “rock,” a moniker earned after thirty-three years of owning and running a business there. She has not only invested her time, she’s learned what it takes to succeed and is willing to share it.

Denny is the something else the neighborhood has going for it, the rock but I would suggest she is also the spark. When asked to comment on the community, Denny described it as “very tightknit. We do sidewalk sales together, promote each other’s shops and are always there for each other.”

When we said goodbye to Dani, we went next door to 89 Allen to say hello to Denny, who was busy setting up for her first live stream event that evening, to start after the store closed. I’ve been visiting the store and Denny for years and I have to say her warmth and enthusiasm have never waned. All the while we shopped, Denny was unpacking boxes, arranging clothes, and finding items for me to try on. The shop displays looked beautiful, racks were full, and as usual, Denny’s sense of humor was uplifting.

While people have been staying home, Denny has taken to Facebook to share clothes and accessories at www.TheDressShop.com. She has photographed them, modeled them, and had employees do the same, all in a spirit of playfulness. That energy fills the store and according to her neighbors, spreads to the businesses on the block including galleries and restaurants. For this outing, we stuck to our fashion and healthy and beauty focus but there is much more there to explore.

Allen Street Dress Shop

I enjoy Denny’s style – how what she wears suits her so well. What works for me is not the same, but I do find things that suit me in the shop, like the pair of fitted black pants that are so wearable I put them on this morning. Denny’s take on fashion can be summed up this way: “I believe in the power of loving yourself and feeling great about how you look. Truly beautiful and interesting timeless clothing can do that for you.”

Next we visited the Trend Up/Ms. Eye Candy store front at 85 Allen. They are a collaboration between two shop owners. There is menswear on one side of the store, called Trend up and women’s wear on the other side, called Ms. Eye Candy. The styles are fashion-forward and the space is comfortable. In the name of collaboration, they take turns working in the store. Trend Up owner Giovanni Centurione was there when we arrived; he was friendly and willing to model an awesome jacket for us. He told us how he and Siobhan Taylor started collaborating and that Denny was the first one to welcome him and offer support when the shop opened.

Trend Up

We were a little hungry at this point, so we headed down Allen past Elmwood to Falley Allen, the restaurant named for the man the street is named after. A gentleman farmer and Grover Cleveland’s uncle, he used the street as his cow path. His farm was at the corner of Elmwood where Towne Restaurant now sits and is still the reason for the jog in the road there.

With tables distanced indoors and an enclosed, heated outdoor space, we sat comfortably at Falley Allen to enjoy cider and appetizers. I asked Emily if she felt safe with our choices and she affirmed that she did. We did not encounter crowds, mask-less people or anything that would have made us uncomfortable.

Walking back to our car, we came upon this sculpture with the A on one side and this apropos message on the other: “Stay Safe. Stay Strong.”

A good take-away for a fun evening, and I will add one more thing. We are in this together and together is how we will find our way through it and eventually, put it behind us.

Written by Judith Frizlen

Judith Frizlen

Judith Frizlen is the founder of the Rose Garden Early Childhood Center and author of Words for Parents, Words for Teachers and Caregivers and Unpacking Guilt, a Mother's Journey to Freedom. Books and blogposts are on her website at judithfrizlen.com. She is a fan of early childhood, urban architecture and the revitalization of Buffalo.

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