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After 25 years on Elmwood, Urban will close

It's the end of an era on Elmwood Avenue. Urban will close its doors Aug. 27 after 25 years on the Elmwood strip.

The name of the store, at 736 Elmwood Ave., has changed over the years to correspond with its changing retail focus. When it opened in 1992, it was called Urban Surfer after the surf and skate gear and clothing it sold. When it shifted its focus to snowboarding and ski culture, the name changed to Urban Threads and Sleds. Today, it's known as Urban Leisure and Luxury, and sells high-end sunglasses, men and women's clothing, accessories, jewelry and gifts.

Owners Ward and Maureen Pinkel own the building at 736 Elmwood Ave., which they bought in 1999.

"That was a key to our success," he said. "Being able to control our own rent."

Rents have skyrocketed on Elmwood Avenue, pricing many retailers out of the market.

Ward Pinkel said he is getting out of the retail business to focus on Metro Beach, his burgeoning real estate company that specializes in properties in Buffalo's Riverside neighborhood. Calling it the next up-and-coming neighborhood with reasonable housing prices and good housing stock, Ward plans to fix up Riverside properties and rent them out. He owns four properties now and said the real estate side of the business is "taking over" his life.

In addition to the demands of his other business is the reality that he's not as plugged into his retail audience as he once was.

"We've gone through an evolution of fads and styles," he said. "I'm getting into my 50s. I'm not as hip to what the younger generation wants."

A liquidation sale is underway.

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