BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Over the past year, COVID-19 has changed the landscape of a number of Western New York shopping destinations. Many stores on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo were forced to close their doors, but in wake of those closures, a number of other businesses are now opening.
"It's just cool to see young, hungry entrepreneurs who want to bring back to the community," explained Jodi Drew, from the Hertel Business Association.
Since the pandemic began, the following Hertel Avenue businesses closed their doors:
- Pastry by Camille
- Second Reader Book Shop
- LaTavola Trattoria
- Mac's on Hertel (temporarily)
Over the past year, these Hertel Avenue businesses have opened their doors:
- Moms Skate Shop
- Gutter Pop Comics
- Elle James Decor
- The Cereal Spot
- Get Smoked BBQ
- Burning Question Tattoo
- Nami Labs
- Nurishments Hair Salon
The most recent to open is Elle James Decor, near the corner of Hertel and Parker. Owner Courtney Nelson-Benton took part in a number of local artisan markets for years. The pandemic forced her to change course.
"They all ended during COVID. So I was thinking what am I going to do next to keep growing my business? Because I'm not giving up on my dream," she said.
So Nelson-Benton transformed her dream to a brick and mortar storefront on Hertel Avenue.
"The world has not stopped. We're going to keep going. Businesses are going to keep growing," she said.
Elle James Decor has pieces for your home, including pillows, candles, and sage sticks, all designed to beautify and cleanse the space around you, something so many are looking for these days.
"Making sure that we're getting rid of the stale energy after being stuck in the house all day every day through this COVID pandemic has been really important," said Nelson-Benton. "I think people are starting to realize that."
Nelson-Benton's store is past Parkside, next to Checker's. Over the past year, the Hertel Business Association says new retail and restaurants have been popping up from Delaware all the way to Main Street.
"I love seeing the different pockets of Hertel developing," said Drew. "It's not the central part of the street anymore. It's spread throughout Hertel, and everyone is turning these little blocks into cool destinations."
Nelson-Benton says her takeaway from the COVID pandemic is that it may have changed our plans, but we can't let it stop us.
"Especially in Buffalo - our city has been going through some big changes!" she said. "We can really be a show stopper. Buffalo is on the rise. So I want to be a part of that movement."