There’s a lot going on in Black Rock these days, and not just because of the pandemic, which triggered a handful of businesses to close. 2021 is going to be a very interesting year for the historic district, especially along the Niagara Street commercial corridor. This will be the first article in a series that will take a closer look at the shifts that are occurring.
A couple of years back, we reported on 1875 Niagara Street, which was benefitting from some facade improvements, including new glass storefront windows on the first floor.
This past September, Neil Gerard owner of The Story Garage, which I covered in 2019, picked up and moved into the space, where he is now operating his thrifty business. The new storefront gives Gerard plenty of opportunities to expand, while the building and the district will afford him to be the master of his own destiny for years to come.
It starts with the building. For years, this beauty sat fairly underutilized. Now the owners, who run a mattress businesses, have seen the light and are making some improvements, starting with Gerard’s space. Gerard told me that since moving into the storefront, his business has been pretty brisk, and that his biggest hurdle has been sourcing new inventory. Eventually, he plans on occupying even more space on the first floor – already, the mattress business relocated towards the back of the building, closer to the shipping bay. There is also a moving company in the front space, which will soon also be shifting towards the back as well, giving Gerard even more room to play around with. And if all goes according to plan, Gerard told me that his dream would be to bring additional vintage sellers into the building, by occupying additional floor levels above the shop, thus creating broader vintage appeal on the street.
Already Gerard is lending his storefront out to local sellers for pop-ups, although he’s waiting for covid to dissipate before he amplifies that effort. “This corner was once home to Market Square,” he reminded me. “You can still see where the public market was at the corner. There are so many opportunities right here. I want to create a setting that is open to the public, and where everyone feels welcome. Currently, Glam V. vintage is curating the clothing in my shop. It’s nice to work with other vintage sellers. The owners of the building have been approved to start working on the second and third floors – there are so many opportunities within this building.”
Yes, this building could become a central hub, to a part of the village that was once thriving as a public market. And much of the historic bones still remain – even the original Jubilee Theater building still stands across the street (now Obersheimer’s Marine Store). And thanks to the Black Rock Riverside Alliance (BRRAlliance), Market Square Park is all fixed up, and will be activated with more public undertakings post-covid.
And that’s not it. There’s a lot of “musical chairs” taking place nearby, which I will be addressing in coming days.
In the meantime, mask-up and head on over to meet Gerard and check out the new, expanded, and improved The Story Garage, which is an exciting catalyst (and anchor) for an area of Buffalo that will one day capture the imaginations of a city, as it once did in the 1800s.
The Story Garage | 1875 Niagara Street | Black Rock | Buffalo NY 14207 | 716-343-0905