National Retail Chains: Good or Bad for the Elmwood Village?

August 1, 2013 Updated Aug 1, 2013 at 11:48 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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August 1, 2013 Updated Aug 1, 2013 at 11:48 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - With almost 300 retail locations along the busy Elmwood Strip, just a handful are national chains.

Starbucks. 7-Eleven. Subway.

Some patrons and residents of the Elmwood Village want more national retailers. Some scoff at the idea.

But now, with the recent grand opening of Panera Bread in the storefront formerly occupied by Blockbuster Video, there is a growing call for more national chains.

However, there are people who are concerned that a growth spurt of chains will ruin the charm of the strip.

"I like the fact that everything on Elmwood is local. I think that's supposed to be the feel of Elmwood," said Alex Paretto. She believes national chains belong in the suburbs.

"We have the Galleria - it's a little bit of a drive - but it's really not that far.," she said. "It needs to definitely be more local."

The popularity of Panera Bread has caught the attention of the Elmwood Village Association.

Executive Director Carly Battin said when Panera Bread announced it would be opening in the neighborhood about a year ago, the outcry from local business owners was harsh.

But now that the store has opened, she is hearing good things from a lot of people.

"Our goal as an association is to create a strong community here and to improve quality of life and to continue the success of our commercial district," said Battin.

And if that means more national chains...

"I would say that is probably a positive sign of the growth of this area," she added.

Battin said there are currently no national chains that she knows of eyeing Elmwood.