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Buffalo’s Small Business Saturday a success thanks to suburban influx and shopping shuttle

Mike Desmond

Buffalo saw another successful year of Small Business Saturday shopping thanks, in part, to an influx of suburban shoppers and a shuttle to alleviate parking woes. WBFO visited vendors in one of the city’s most popular small business strips, the Elmwood Village.

The Treehouse toy store’s owner David Scheuckler said Small Business Saturday brings in shopping volume second only to Christmas Eve. Like a number of owners and employees in the village, he said it helps attract shoppers from the city’s suburbs who might not be every day customers.

“This is one of those days where everybody ventures down into the city and checks out some of the new hotspots that have sprung up,” said Scheuckler. “Elmwood Village is strong, very strong.”

Scheuckler said for his store in particular, the best-selling toys for the holiday season are those that people associate with their own memories. He said shoppers often focus on items that build a bridge between generations.

Elsewhere, at Elmwood’s Wild Things Designs which features artisan crafts and jewelry, co-owner Stephanie Robb said ear rings were the gift in demand. She described business on Saturday morning as “slamming.”

“I think people are getting the idea with the small business, you know – think big, shop small,” said Robb.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Shoppers roam the streets of the Elmwood Village during Small Business Saturday, many were part of the influx of customers from Buffalo's suburbs.

Robb noted that local businesses offer the advantage of feeling a product in your hands as opposed to viewing it on a screen. In a store like hers, customers can often meet the artist that created a product and have it tweaked to their desires. Robb said she also finds that while many shoppers come with the intention of finding gifts for others, they end up making plenty of purchases for themselves.

With the increase in business, in an already densely populated area, the yearly issue of parking came up again. This year, however, the City of Buffalo found a way to try and overcome the obstacle. Shoppers had the opportunity to park at the Gallagher Ramp near Women & Children’s Hospital and ride a free shuttle to 7 stops along the Elmwood strip.

Delaware District Common Council Member Joel Feroleto said business owners were thrilled by the service.

“If people can’t park, then they may go somewhere else to shop. We want to make it easy for the residents of the area, the visitors to Western New York to be able to get to the stores and restaurants on Elmwood quickly and not have to worry about parking,” said Feroleto.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Vendors doll out produce from the last of the outdoor season's crop at the Elmwood Bidwell Farmers Market.

Brick-and-mortar businesses in the Elmwood Village weren’t the only ones benefitting from the day’s shopping bustle. Small Business Saturday coincided with the final day of the Elmwood Bidwell Farmers Market’s outdoor season.

A vendor named Cindy from the Tom Tower farm in Youngstown said the crowds of visitors were buying up the last of this year’s bushels of apples and potatoes.

The Elmwood Bidwell Farmers Market will continue indoors during the winter season at Buffalo State College.

Avery began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for WRUB, the University at Buffalo’s student-run radio station.
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