Holiday shoppers urged to support local merchants

Dec 3, 2012

A big emphasize is being placed on supporting local merchants this holiday shopping season.  The tourism group Visit Buffalo Niagara is reminding citizens about our independent retailers and encouraging Canadians to head over the border for their Christmas shopping.

"We have a very steady stream of folks that come over from Canada to shop at our malls. So they have pretty well worn paths that they take to get to the Galleria or to the Fashion Outlets in Niagara," said Peter Burakowski, communication manager at Visit Buffalo Niagara. 

The organization works to raise awareness of the shopping experience and other tourist attractions throughout the region.

"You can have a great weekend getaway where you get those great deals you are looking for, but you can also check  out the Albright Knox Art Gallery or go to the Darwin Martin House, see a play at Shea's and have some great dining that rivals any other city," said Burakowski. 

Burakowski says the group is working to expand what people know about Buffalo. Visit Buffalo Niagara even hired a fashion consultant the last couple of years to help target shoppers to the region. 

Erin Habes says the main focus is to create the shopping experience in the city from the Elmwood Village to the Hertel Avenue strip. 

"Enjoy the environment that you know each of those neighborhoods creates. It's that storyline that comes with it  You're with your girlfriends, you're shopping, you're finding those cool, creative gifts that your sister or your mother are going to squeal when they open up," said Habes.  

Habes, a former Elmwood Village shop owner, is bringing her expertise to help promote local buying. She says Canadian women are looking for big city fashion flavor that Toronto has to offer.

"Well they're definitely hip to fashion.  Obviously what I'm helping with is kind of curating our shopping experience and gearing toward that Toronto, very hip cool, which some people may think we do not have that here, but we really do," said Habes.

Peter Burakowski & Erin Habes with a Buffalo sweatshirt
Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

And if you're looking for a special Buffalo collection item, the Visit Buffalo Niagara shop at the Market Arcade downtown is another great place to hunt for Christmas gifts.