You had me at ‘Hertel’

Have you ever been to a store at the mall that tried to recreate a feeling of urban, or even country design in order to make you feel like the showroom that you were walking through somehow transformed you to a different place entirely? Was it effective? Did you really feel like you were in SoHo or Denver? When you walked back out into the mallway did you feel like the experience was ‘real’. Mall stores, and chain stores in general, spend a lot of time and money attempting to recreate what urban commercial districts like Hertel already have. Take, for example, the stunning (and very real) storefront that Modern Nostalgia now calls home (see back story). Modern Nostalgia has hit a homerun on Hertel.

Not only did the fashion boutique more than double its size from its incubator Allentown location, the store’s owners found built-in rustic and contemporary charm just waiting for them to snap up. Between the wood floors, the kiosk-style window displays, the industrial skylights and the built-in counters left behind from previous businesses (including Buster Brown’s tile entranceway), the 1400 sq.’ space has loads of charm and is spacious enough to actually compete with the malls (plus it’s a lot cheaper). “Hertel is transforming into an Elmwood Avenue,” co-owner Brianne Klejdys told me. “We originally looked at opening on Elmwood but could not afford the skyrocketing rents. Thankfully we decided to (originally) open in Allentown – we loved our location there, but we needed room to grow. We never looked at Elmwood Avenue again because of the bad experience that we had with landlords who actually believe that the storefronts command NYC rents… it was a real turnoff. Elmwood is great, but it’s not the only choice anymore. Now we’re here on Hertel and loving it. Our business is fantastic and our customers actually thank us for being here! Our weekend sales are phenomenal – people in the neighborhood get up early, go to church (on Sundays), walk their dogs, grab a coffee and then go shopping… just how a real city shopping district should be.”

Modern-Shopping-Buffalo-NY.jpgCo-owner Nikki Polasik agreed that Hertel was full of surprises (meet the girls). “We had a lot of out-of-town-shoppers in Allentown and probably won’t have as much of that over here mainly because we’re not as close to the hotels. We’re on Hertel for the neighborhood and to show the Buffalonians who only shop at malls and chains that they can find lines such as Spiewak, Preloved, Sweet Romeo, Creme Fraiche and Corey Lynn Calter in a street setting with lots of other shops, cafes and restaurants. Pretty soon we’ll have a Spot Coffee on Hertel – we’re already swamped on the weekends, so it will be interesting to see how business grows.” Brianne and Nikki feel that they are helping to establish Hertel as a shopper’s destination that will offer healthy competition to Elmwood. They’ve landed in a location that adjoins BABYroom, and it’s also on the same block as ‘room’ (formerly on Elmwood). The block has become a one-stop-shop destination that, if you have not been to Hertel in a while, is transformational of mind, body and spirit. I came away with a completely different vibe regarding the street and where it is heading. I highly suggest taking a shopping excursion to this part of the city.

Modern Nostalgia
1376 Hertel Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14216-2825
(716) 844-8435

Nostalgia-window-Buffalo-NY.jpg

About the author  ⁄ queenseyes

Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Catalyst behind the Pierce-Arrow Film Arts Center. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette. Themed New Years mayhem at various locations. Next up: Porchfest... Also offers package tours of the city for groups or individuals. Contact Newell Nussbaumer | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

16 comments
peripatetic
peripatetic

Hey. How about a nice story about the Family Dollar store and pole sign proposed at Bailey and Lisbon.

Gioia
Gioia

I popped in here last weekend and it was a great experience. I browsed around the gorgeous space, looking at beautiful clothes and accessories. They have very unique pieces and the place has an upscale, not-typically-found-in-Buffalo-feeling. The price point is a little higher than what we're used to here, especially on Hertel, but I hope that it will do well nonetheless. I think with retailers such as room moving to the block and leading the way, it will help! It's fun that it's connected to baby room too! I stopped by there and picked up a little something.

ke$ha
ke$ha

I think Kenmore would be a great place to market as a place for young, urban, yet family oriented professionals ala Lakewood in Cleveland. I would definitely agree, Delaware could really use something outside of another hair salon or corner bar to give the street more of an active feel outside of a few hours on the weekend.

grad94
grad94

a supposedly "urban" interior design isn't what malls imitate when it comes to cities.

dan is mostly right except for overlooking for one essential fact: malls provide what cities -used- to, which is a fully satisfying pedestrian experience. good pedestrian experiences are so rare that people will drive significant distances to have them. some people get to have them only on vacation, when they go to walking places like disneyland or martha's vineyard.

mall storefront widths and heights mimic standard urban storefront proportions. mall storefronts aren't fronted by parking or pointless grassy strips. malls offer full permeability: no blank walls save for temporary remodeling, and a profusion of entrances. mall storefronts provide a satisfying visual panorama unbroken by driveways, surface lots, and other harmful interruptions in the typical commercial streetscape. malls allow pushcarts and kiosks in the right of way. malls provide rich people-watching opportunities. malls terminate their vistas with important destinations - anchor tenants, fountains, food courts, sculpture, glassed-in elevators, you name it.

by offering these observations i am not arguing that we therefore need to demolish what is left of our city and replace it with shopping malls. just the opposite. i am saying that we took the wrong lessons from malls. it isn't the free parking or idiotic enclosures (like those '70s plans to put plexiglass domes over downtowns everywhere) that we need to emulate, it is the fully functional pedestrian realm. malls merely provided what cities destroyed. cities will outperform malls when they start providing superior pedestrian experiences.

Dan
Dan

Delaware in Kenmore really needs a good "third place" to spark a revitalization. The area has excellent bones, but the ground floor occupants seem to cater to an older, more blue-collar crowd; people who aren't normally the sort to stroll. Pizzerias, old-man bars, and "God's waiting room" restaurants like The Plaka fill retail space, but they aren't helping to make Delaware more vibrant. The street needs a coffeehouse, brewpub, or funky toy store to help the strip steer away from its bluehair reputation.

Dan
Dan

NBuffguy> I'm not so sure I agree with this. Malls have been around for decades and provide their own authentic shopping experience. In fact, lately when I travel to various cities, it seems like commercial districts are beginning to immitate what the malls have.

Upvoted, and true. When malls and shopping plazas began to pop up in the suburban landscape in the 1950s, there was a strong prevailing anti-urban sentiment. Cities were considered dirty, run-down and old; suburbs were clean, new, and better reflected the spirit of the Jet Age. Into the 1990s, urban shopping districts tried to imitate the new malls and plazas, rather than the other way around: massive facade veneers or slipcovers, buildings along the streetscape torn down for surface parking, new retail buildings sited in a suburban context with parking in front, and later, pedestrian malls.

The equivalent of lifestyle centers with the feel of a traditional neighborhood were unknown in the 1970s and 1980. During the same time, plans called for enclosing Main Street and turning it into an all-weather mall. Cities tried to emulate the suburbs, not the other way around, and the City of Buffalo wholeheartedly embraced the trend. It still has a hard time letting go.

NBuffguy
NBuffguy

"Mall stores, and chain stores in general, spend a lot of time and money attempting to recreate what urban commercial districts like Hertel already have."

I'm not so sure I agree with this. Malls have been around for decades and provide their own authentic shopping experience. In fact, lately when I travel to various cities, it seems like commercial districts are beginning to immitate what the malls have. On the rare occasion I go to a mall, I guess I think of the chain stores as spending a lot of time and money attempting to create a genuine mall shopping experience. The stores aren't trying to "recreate a feeling of urban," in my opinion but I guess it depends on how you define "urban." To me, they're presenting clothing in a context that some might think of as urban (i.e. belonging in SoHo) but others might think of as urban because they imagine themsleves on Main Street in Williamsville. If you look at it from that perspective, I think you'll find that it's very real. Just because a day of shopping at the Galleria isn't your cup of tea, and for the record it's not mine either, doesn't make it any less authentic. And it only makes it less urban because of the way you define what urban means to you.

But this new shop on Hertel looks great, a nice addition to Hertel!

bobbycat
bobbycat

You deleted my comment because I said something about gangs? Are you serious? I guess the racist sensitivity meter is over the top on BRO.

4matic
4matic

Seriously? That area is looking more & more like Black Rock.

4matic
4matic

Not sure about a store, but when I'm at the Cheesecake Factory I feel like I'm in New York or Paris.

JSmith
JSmith

The new building that Iskalo is constructing on the old Jeep dealership lot should spruce things up a bit. Retail on the ground floor facing Delaware Avenue, primary care offices upstairs.

I hope they build something similar on the other lot a block north as well.

ke$ha
ke$ha

Next on the list: Delaware Avenue in Kenmore.

I think that section is ripe for a revitalization, the neighborhood definitely has some of the nicest housing stock of its kind and the bones to be so much more, not to mention a pretty vibrant community.

ke$ha
ke$ha

Next on the list: Delaware Avenue in Kenmore

I think that section is ripe for a revitalization, the neighborhood definitely has some of the nicest housing stock of it's kind and the bones to be so much more

bobbycat
bobbycat

We might still see the same vibrancy along Main Street if the DELETED. The one thing Hertel has going for it is DELETED.

Dan
Dan

Neat description of Hertel Avenue's refound vibrancy.

If Kensington didn't go through its demographic upheaval in the 1990s, we'd probably be seeing the same kind of activity on Bailey Avenue.

Brando
Brando

I had the opportunity to walk through this space before the floors were refinished and it is fantastic! Congrats to Nikki and Bri!

I can't wait to check out the store. Any chance you'll be carrying mens lines soon?

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