Queen City Pop-Up’s latest incarnation has settled into 517 Main St. with a unique new crop of retailers.
The Atinga Project sells fair-trade shoes handmade by artisans in Rwanda using recycled taxi tires. Footwear ranges in price from $28 to $42, with discounted sandals on clearance for $15. Also for sale are bracelets and hand-woven baskets made from recycled shipping straps.
Atinga pays the African shoemakers a fair price for the shoes they produce and also shares a portion of its after-sale profits. Last year, those proceeds amounted to 30 percent of Atinga’s gross profits.
Founder Chris Way was inspired to start the business by missionary work he conducted in Africa. He designed Atinga’s business model as an eco-friendly and sustainable way to stimulate economic development at home and abroad. It formerly operated out of the West Side Bazaar.
Phenominal Xpressions has a vast collection of jewelry for sale, much of it handmade by owner Nikita Williams. The artist also buys new and vintage pieces, then mixes and matches them in coordinated sets. Prices range from about $29 for a three-piece jewelry set to $85 for more elaborate jewelry sets with natural stones.
“If I see a piece that inspires me, I’ll buy it and hold it until I can find just the right thing to put with it,” Williams said. “I’ve held onto a piece for up to seven months.”
She also offers watches, scarves, purses and sunglasses. Until now she has sold her wares online and at vendor shows, but said the pop-up is an important step toward achieving her ultimate dream, which would be a retail boutique with a studio in the back to accommodate her other company, Late Luci Productions. That company produces a local online news program called “The Advocator.”
Vixen Fashion sells vintage clothing, accessories and collectibles, including a collection of Marilyn Monroe dolls. She also has an assortment of new purses, wallets and jewelry handmade in Kenya and Nairobi. Prices range from $1 for certain baby clothing to $700 for a vintage Louis Vuitton purse.
Owner Faith Jaskulski has been re-selling secondhand clothing, accessories and household items online since 2001.
“I have dreamt of having a brick-and-mortar location since I started the idea,” she said.
She’s eager to test out the experience to see if she could make a permanent location work, she said.
Buffalo Loves Tees is owned by Sarah and Nathan Gatti. The duo design, print and sell Buffalo-themed artwork, T-shirts and mugs. The store sold out of its wall art almost immediately after the pop-up opened, and the couple have been working to keep up with demand.
T-shirts, printed on sweatshop-free shirts using eco-friendly ink, sell for $20. Mugs are $10, shot glasses are $5, matted photo prints are $30. Products can also be customized.
The company has sold its products at vendor shows and online, but hopes to eventually secure a permanent physical location.
“People like to touch and feel,” Sarah Gatti said. “They can hold this shirt and say, ‘Oh yeah, this is nice.’”
The couple also owns Go Stick Art, a custom printing company which also hosts web stores and does fundraising.
This latest round of Queen City Pop-Up runs through July 31. Stores are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from
517 Main St. It’s located at 517 Main St., across from Furnishings Gift Home & You.
Buffalo Urban Development Corp. started the Queen-City Pop-Up concept in 2014 as a way to attract more small businesses to downtown Buffalo. The program offers retailers rent-free space for a limited time to let entrepreneurs try their hand at brick-and-mortar retail. This session’s space was donated by New 500 Block LLC.
Other Queen City Pop-Up veterans have gone on to open permanent physical stores in downtown Buffalo, including Buffalo Adore, Rust Belt Love, Yar Mo’s Muse, MMW Style Studio, Rudeboyz Artworks and Buffalo Barkery.