BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — It was one of the happiest days of their lives… and then COVID-19 hit.
Near the start of the year, Holly Doyle and Jen Stockman were so excited to show News 4’s Kelsey Anderson around their new shop: The Buffalo Women’s Consortium (BWC). The space, inside the Market Arcade on Main Street in Buffalo, felt special. Every item inside was created by local women, all with their own inspiring stories.
“These baskets here are woven by a woman from Rwanda, she’s settled here in Buffalo,” Stockman said in an interview on January 31.
But in March, just one month after their official opening, COVID-19 hit and their doors were forced to close. They worked to pay their rent by selling about 2,000 masks. Many of them were sewn by local refugees.
But recently, the two were told the Market Arcade would keep its doors closed. The women told News 4, vendors were told they could do ‘appointment-only’ shopping. So, the two made the tough decision to close all together.
“As a retailer, we need public access,” Doyle said. “So for us, the decision was a no-brainier, we had to close down and we kind of thought, ‘Oh my gosh, what are we going to do now?'”
With 40 different female vendors relying on them, the women became determined to forge on without a brick and mortar shop.
“Everyone is going through some sort of struggle right now… no one is immune… but it’s what you do with these situations,” Stockman said.
The two put everything online and started doing pop-up shopping events.
The next event will be inside Second Chic on Main Street in Williamsville. Friday August 14th, and Saturday August 14th, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., they’ll have a variety of female-created artwork, skincare products, purses, jewelry, tea and more.
And coming soon, the women said Benderson Development Company heard their story and offered them a temporary lease in Williamsville, through the end of the year.
With a little help, and a lot of grit, the women are pushing forward in order to continue their vision of empowering women around them.
“It’s really about bringing people back together, and community building and collaboration with one another,” Stockman said. “And (it’s about) shifting mindsets into recycling, re-purposing, (and) creating again because when women create something really magical happens.”
A spokeswoman with Sinatra and Company confirmed the Market Arcade is closed to the public. She said they’re doing their best to follow mandated state guideline and keep people safe. She said she regrets any impact this has had on businesses there, and they’ll continue to make changes to the building policies when appropriate.
For more information on the BWC pop-up event this upcoming weekend, click here.