BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Back in September, a devastating fire left 11 West Side Bazaar businesses without a place to sell their food and goods. Their livelihood went up in smoke in a matter of minutes. But this week, some of those businesses are opening up in a new home.
The Downtown Bazaar at 617 Main Street is holding a grand opening on Friday, April 14. It’s in the former Expo Market location, right in the heart of the Theater District downtown.
“We will have Mexican, we will have Filipino, we are going to have Sudanese,” Carolynn Welch said, the executive director of WEDI. “And then we are also going to have Thai street food, which is everyone’s favorite bubble tea and lotus cookies and different wraps that they make.”
There’s also a bar, and retail items for sale too.
All the businesses there are thanks to WEDI, a non-profit that helps entrepreneurs who qualify financially. WEDI staff help them with capital, give them a space to thrive and teach them about running a business so that they can go out on their own someday. Many are refugees.
“(We help them with) HR, marketing, websites, how to set pricing (and) how to deal with your finances,” Welch said. “Every piece along the way, we support people and we really focus on the areas individually where they need help. It’s not a cookie cutter type of situation.”
Right now there is a waiting list of 120 businesses trying to get WEDI’s help.
And this fall, an even bigger space is opening as well. Construction on the new West Side Bazaar on Niagara Street is underway. That will be located at 1432 Niagara St, Buffalo. We’re told 24 businesses will open up there, and it’s expected to draw 250,000 visitors a year.
“Food is such a safe way to start learning about a culture, but then it opens up other questions and I think as a city we need that kind of heart right now,” Welch said. “We need a place where people can gather and feel good and want to learn more.”
On the night of the grand opening of the Downtown Bazaar, April 14, WEDI will hold an annual fundraiser called WEDIfest. Tickets are sold out, but some may be available at the door that night. Click here for more. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
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Kelsey Anderson is an award-winning anchor who came back home to Buffalo in 2018. See more of her work here and follow her on Twitter.