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Discount Diva: Shopping the Queen City Pop-Up

Samantha Christmann

The holiday edition of Queen City pop-up is a great place to shop for Christmas gifts. The program, administered by the Buffalo Urban Development Corp., hosts a handful of emerging retailers in vacant commercial space in the city. The temporary brick-and-mortar location lets merchants test the waters in hopes of opening permanent shops downtown.

What I love about it is I get the shop-local experience of Main Street while enjoying the convenience of a shopping center; hitting several stores in one space. I also get to support budding entrepreneurs while finding unique gifts at great prices.

If you go, use the Buffalo Roam app to pay for your parking meter or take the Metro Rail down to the 500 block of Main Street. The shop is at the corner of Chippewa Street, open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays through Dec. 30.

I had a good look around and found tons of things to love in each shop.

For starters:

Huggins Home Decor and Design. Owner Tracey Huggins has an expert stylist’s eye, offering items you would expect to see at Crate & Barrel, but at a third of the price or less. There are soft, oversized throw blankets ($25), cuddly “Hug a Buffalo” pillows ($15), plaid appetizer plates (two for $7.95), Holiday Spice-scented infusers ($9.95), Cashmere Creme candles ($6), fuzzy throw rugs ($20), tall pillar candlesticks ($14.95), and decorative pillows bearing everything from Audrey Hepburn to Santa Claus ($20 or two for $35). Gah! I want it all.

Wrapped with Love Jewelry. Artist London Smith makes beautiful, wire-wrapped jewelry and accessories with crystals from around the world. You’ll find everything from crystal hairpins ($2 or three for $5) and $5 necklaces to a five-stone quartz and bloodstone necklace ($50) and a crystal-encrusted crown ($60). Just gorgeous!

Abstract Wealth. Gorgeous, one-of-a-kind, custom creations that are more wearable art than mere designer clothing. Shawn Brown’s original artwork adorns every piece, including airbrushed or hand-painted ties ($15), T-shirts (starting around $20) , leather jackets (around $100) and suit coats ($150). You can also bring your own clothing and shoes and have them painted to your liking. A custom paint job on a pair of jeans for example, would run about $20.

Black Fawn Exchange. You’ll find one-of-a-kind vintage treasures, expertly curated by Lauren Heaney. There are cozy sweaters ($20), funky coats ($20 to $65), stylish purses ($8 to $30) and ugly Christmas sweaters ($15). But the real gems are the retro Sabres and Bills T-shirts ($8) and sweatshirts ($30).

The Dollhouse Boutique. At Francesca Goodwin’s gorgeously merchandised shop, you’ll find super trendy, eye-popping footwear for about $35 to $65. My personal favorite (which I could only pull off in my dreams) was a pair of thigh-high boots in distressed denim for $55. There are also cute clutch purses for $25 to $35 as well as scarves, necklaces and other accessories. In the back is Goodwin’s sister Ashley, a celebrity makeup artist who has worked with VH1 and Bravo. She’ll give you a full-face makeover, complete with mink eyelashes, for $65.

Ebony Snow’s Better Hair and Better You. You’ll find artisan hair products designed to make hair stronger, healthier and more manageable, such as natural hair exfoliating hair scrub ($14), Cocoa Butter Silk Butter conditioner ($16) and Clay Cleansing shampoo ($16) as well as renewal and growth serum for both hair ($14) and eyelashes ($16). All get glowing customer reviews.

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