Bon-Ton will expand its shop-local initiative, tripling the number of "Close to Home" shops in its stores and soliciting more local vendors.
The department store launched the regional shop-within-a-shop concept last fall, featuring community-themed merchandise and products made by local artists, designers, artisans and entrepreneurs. Five Buffalo-area shops offer items including chocolate, pottery, artwork, jewelry and clothing ranging in price from $3 to $125. Many products are hand crafted or made with local materials.
The initial launch added 45 shops using products from 100 regional vendors. The program exceeded the company's expectations, with sales doubling Bon-Ton's projections. Now, it plans to add an additional 100 stores by summer. One of them will be in the Summit Park Mall store in Wheatfield.
Bon-Ton CEO Kathryn Bufano, in a statement announcing the expansion, said the Close to Home shops reflect "the tastes and buying preferences of our local communities."
To find more regional vendors, Bon-Ton has launched a Close to Home online sourcing fair, where local makers can submit products for consideration. To apply, visit CloseToHome.Bonton.com. Submissions are being accepted through March 24.
There are Close to Home shops in five Buffalo-area Bon-Ton stores at Eastern Hills Mall, Southgate Plaza, McKinley Mall, Lockport Mall and in the Sheridan Delaware Plaza. Local companies represented in the shops include BFLO Gallery & Gift Shops of Williamsville, bfloGALS featuring RoadKiln of Buffalo, D.K.F. Design of Grand Island and Fowler's Fine Chocolates of Buffalo.