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Celebrate Main Street

Buffalo First! offers two good reasons to shop close to home

Obama’s back in the White House with a renewed focus on Main Street, and perhaps never before in our country’s history has the impetus to shop local been more on the minds and in the wallets of holiday shoppers.

To that tune, Buffalo First!, the nonstop, nonprofit organization at the heart of our city’s thriving “buy local” movement, kicked off its “Give Local a Chance” holiday shopping campaign today at the popular Sweetness_7 coffee shop on Grant Street, along with an unveiling of a locally themed mural by artist Max Collins.

Not only does buying goods from locally owned and operated retailers help pump more dollars back into the Buffalo economy (Google “local multiplier effect” or, better yet, visit, but the unique gifts your loved ones receive are also backed by the best customer service, responsible hiring, and ethical sourcing—and support the livelihoods of families who have spent generations giving back to the communities in which they live and work. Think of it as a closed loop of goodwill that keeps our money here, working for us rather than for corporate shareholders somewhere else in the world.

Collins, a young Buffalonian who moved back to the city last year after attending school in Michigan, is a talented photographer and painter whose latest works, a series called No More Talking, are up at 464 Gallery through November 28 (and are for sale). His mural work, now in progress on Grant and eventually to be joined by a sister mural at the S7 coffee shop on Parkside, features well known Buffalo entrepreneurs including Sweetness’s Prish Moran, Jeanne Petri of Westside Stories, Guercio’s Italian market, and several other local mom-and-pops. The middle panel will simply read “Act Local”—one of Buffalo First!’s many pro-Main Street slogans.

“When these projects line up with a cause like this, it’s really fulfilling for me as an artist,” Collins says, adding that Grant “is one of my favorite sections of town. The mantra here is contributing back to the city I love.”

Speaking of mom-and-“pops,” on December 1, wrench yourself away from the goodies on Elmwood to visit the Main (St)udios at 515 Main Street for Buffalo First’s “Give Local a Chance Pop-Up Shops” event, part of a full-on block party hosted by the 500 and 600 blocks on Main. From noon to 8pm, stay warm as you browse three floors of local and independent gift ideas while enjoying a “Experience Buffalo” raffle, live music and art exhibits, and the knowledge that buying local can be an act of civic pride.

Find more info on Give Local A Chance and pop-up shops vendor registration at

Neighborly Shopping: Grant CentralHertel AvenueElmwood AvenueAllentown

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