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Latest Queen City Pop-Up features global boutique, baskets and sauces

Three small businesses will spend the summer selling their wares from a downtown Buffalo storefront, rent-free, with the city's hope they'll eventually open a permanent shop along Main Street. The Queen City Pop-Up is underway with its sixth edition of an initiative that leaders say is resulting in new businesses opening downtown.

The latest Queen City Pop-Up will operate from the ground floor of the Brisbane Building, on the 400 block of Main Street, and may be accessed from the street. This year's vendors offer goods that appeal to touch, sight and even taste. They were formally introduced Thursday inside the storefront from which they'll operate, rent-free, for the next several weeks.

"After a competitive RFP (request for proposals) process, three local retailers were selected to participate this year, offering a unique mix of items including artisan crafts, custom baskets, handmade handbags, jewelry and specialty sauces."

Ten Thousand Villages will sell the crafts, jewelry and handbags Mayor Brown referenced. Baskets By Ms. Regina offers customized gift baskets featuring items gathered and packed to suit any theme. Najah Sauces offers four varieties of sauces, hot or mild featuring tamarind or a mix of fenugreek and dates, as well as pitted dates, fenugreek seeds and tamarind paste.

Several previous participants were present Thursday to lend their support to the current vendors. Some have since opened permanent shops along Main Street. Brandye Merriweather, vice president of downtown development for the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, said the program has proven to bring new business to the city.

"We have a really, really great pipeline going here," Merriweather said. "A lot of small businesses that we're proud to have given an opportunity to be a springboard, to test out their products, have been very successful in transitioning into becoming permanent retailers downtown."

Another one is on the way. Michele Ogden, a chocolatier who was accepted into the Queen City Pop-Up program during its previous run, announced she is opening her new store, Whimsy Confections, at 610 Main Street on July 10.

She credited Queen City Pop-Up with giving her the knowledge and confidence to start her own business.

"It's an amazing program, a phenomenal opportunity and you couldn't get more support," Ogden said. "I think it's great that the city provides this opportunity for small business owners."

The Queen City Pop-Up is now open and will run through September 1. The hours are 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on weekdays and noon until 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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