BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – This Small Business Saturday marks ten years since the day started, and in that time, Americans have spent more than 100 billion dollars shopping small.
In that same time, Buffalo has also seen a major return of retail businesses to Main Street, fueled in part by the return of vehicle traffic block-by-block to the road that for so long was open only to the NFTA’s Metro Rail.
“Compared to ten years ago, what you see in Buffalo is amazing. Every night, there’s people out walking. It’s a happening place to be,” said Nicole Davis, designer for Franci Jewelry.
Franci Jewelry was celebrating its first Small Business Saturday in the Market Arcade on Main Street this weekend.
The Market Arcade was bustling Saturday with shoppers, like Sarah Trimm from South Buffalo, who fueled up on Paula’s Donuts courtesy of Buffalo Place and hit up one of her favorite shops, the Buffalo Barkery.
“It’s nice to shop small because that’s what keeps Buffalo thriving,” Trimm said.
“This is such a lovely building that we wanted to be part of the day, come in, make a few purchases and then spend some time in downtown Buffalo,” said another Small Business Saturday shopper in the Market Arcade, Maryanne Gregorio Powers.
Shoppers at the Market Arcade were able to park on Main Street right outside the stores, thanks to a decade and a half’s worth of work to reopen Main Street to vehicle traffic one block at a time.
“That’s a project that I have been working on since 2006 when I first took office as mayor,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told News 4.
Brown says the project has produced results.
“In the last few years, downtown Buffalo has become the fastest growing residential community in the city,” the Mayor explained, “so bringing retail to downtown is something downtown residents are looking for and downtown workers are looking for.”
The work to transform Main Street into a shared space for trains and vehicles has been possible because of investments from the city of Buffalo, the state, and two federal grants.
Buffalo recently learned it did not get another federal grant for which it had applied, but Mayor Brown says that will not be the end of the road for the Main Street project.
“While this round, we were not awarded, the next round, we are going to apply again,” Brown said. “And we’re going to continue to look for other sources of funding as well.”