I recently came across an interesting business that has come up with a very creative concept. Founders Greg Moyer and Melissa Allen started Leftern as a way to promote their favorite art and music on social media, but they always had a bigger plan in their back pocket.
That bigger plan was the Leftern Gameday Series. When the couple lived away from Buffalo (Greg’s hometown), they would do a lot of traveling. Whenever they were visiting other cities, they would try to catch Buffalo Bills games. When they would go to the games, they wanted to take home a momento – a tangible memory – but the host cities always had merchandise for the home teams… never for the Bills (of course).
Upon moving to Buffalo, from Seattle, Greg and Melissa felt that it was time to launch the Gameday Series, which is essentially gameday posters (a momento) from Buffalo Bills games.
“I’m a collector,” greg told me. “I love to bring things home from the games, but all of the games that I went to, when living away from Buffalo, there was never anything to bring home. It’s not like I was going to bring home an opposing team’s hat or t-shirt, and they didn’t have Bills’ gear… and even the tickets were electronic, which meant that there was nothing to remember the games by.
“After thinking about how we could combine a city’s love for the Bills, people traveling for games, supporting the artists that we love, and giving back to charity, we came up with idea for limited addition, hand stamped and numbered, (11″x17″) gameday posters, created by regional artists.”
The Leftern Gameday Series was officially born in 2019. That year, they created 8 posters (half the season) for hometown games, featuring 8 different artists. Since the artists could not use NFL logos or team names, they had to come up with super creative ways to express the city rivalries. While Greg and Melissa thought that Bills fans would get a kick out of the project, they had no idea just how successful the project would become.
“It absolutely took off,” Greg told me. “People started sharing it on social media – it went viral. There was nothing else like it anywhere – it was totally original. We made 150 posters for each of the 8 home games. The second season we made posters for the whole season – 75 posters a week. The posters sold out within minutes each week. People went crazy for them. So this season we’re making 125 posters for each game. It’s perfect timing with the Bills being so legit.”
Greg told me that when the pandemic hit, he felt that poster sales would not be as strong, but it turned out that they were just as popular. He attributed this to fans who want a keepsake, whether they attend a game in person, or watch it at home with friends and family. The graphics are so impressive, and unique, that the posters are highly sought after even after they sell out – they become collectors items due to their limited runs.
“I’ve had people email me with all sorts of great stories, thanking me for the posters,” said Greg. “I had a son who wanted a poster because he bonded with his dad while watching a game. Another guy said that he got the posters for all of his groomsmen. Other people simply like the graphics, or maybe it was a big game for the Bills…”
For every game, Greg and Melissa handpick the artists, some of which they sought out, while others have sought them out. The posters are created by a wide range of artists, including graphic designers, photographers, painters, etc. To date, all of the posters have been released online, on the Monday or Tuesday before gameday via Instagram and Twitter (@lefternco).
“This year, we’re going to mix it up a little,” said Greg. “In addition to the online drops, we’re also working with some local businesses and stores for pop-ups, where we will be releasing capsules filled with posters and merchandise. Our first in-store release is going to be at Metagama at 43 W. Tupper, the day before opening kickoff. Then we’re partnering with Labatt and Macy’s Pizza (known for their Instagram pizzas later in the season), so stay tuned for that. Also, 50% of profits from sales of individual prints will be donated to the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy this season. We give back to charity as much as we can. We’re happy with how far we have come so far in a relatively short period of time. This project is not the ‘end game’ for us – eventually we want to operate a retail and event space, selling art, hosting shows, and incorporating a number of side projects (and home to Leftern).”
One of the reasons that I personally love the concept of the posters is that it gets artists talking about sports, and sports enthusiasts talking about art.
“It brings to different cultures together which are typically mutually exclusive,” greg told me. “The prints don’t scream football either (for the most part). They are all over the place. We even have opposing team fans ordering them, as well as expats. So far, we have sent posters to 42 different states, 4 provinces in Canada… and two to England. Every year we sell a limited number of ‘season ticket packages,’ where fans get every poster (at a discounted rate) that we release. In 2021 we sold out of the package release in 2 hours.”
If you’ve been wondering where the name ‘Leftern’ comes from, as I did, Greg informed me that it’s what he tells people when they ask where Buffalo is found on the map. “It’s on the left side of New York State,” he said [laughing]. “So instead of saying ‘Western New York,’ we say ‘Leftern New York,’ which gives people a mental image (left) instead of a directional cue (west). It seems to work, so we named our company after it.”
All of the posters are printed right here in Buffalo, at Buffalo Big Print. They are sold at a very reasonable price too ($15). Each poster comes with a write-up about the artist, so that fans can talk about the posters on a level that surpasses the sports angle. And that, to me, is the really impressive aspect of the Gameday Series. I’m all for people who want to hang Bills posters on their walls, but there are times when nice artwork goes a long way (pertaining to aesthetic decor). After taking a look at a number of previous releases, I found that there were a few that I would proudly display at home. I only wish that they were signed by the artists.
“That’s the beauty of living in Buffalo,” Greg told me. “Once you are familiar with the artist that designed your poster, you can go seek him or her out, and get your poster signed. We wanted to have hand signed posters originally, but with the pandemic, that became impossible. That’s also why you should attend a pop-up this season. These are going to be more interactive events that will enhance the acquisition experience tremendously.”
Get connected: www.leftern.co