Buffalo has several nicknames, but none ring as true as its reputation for being the City of Good Neighbors. It is also a city devoted to its local economy—Buffalo First. Buying local is more than an economic and political agenda, it’s about character and caring; it’s what made moving to this city effortless and enjoyable. The first friends I made here were the merchants whose shops line Elmwood Avenue and Allen Street—they are still my friends and many are neighbors. Once a task I rushed through and resented, I look forward to running errands in Buffalo and make time for the social exchange it includes.
This is also a walking city, and Artichoke and I stroll the streets together. Our favorite stop, whether we’re shopping or not, is Animal Outfitters on the corner of Elmwood and Bidwell. In need of dog supplies, Omar Zahzouhi’s shop was one of the first stores I found, and his sincere and generous welcome made an indelible impression. Enthusiastic and eager to offer help, from our first exchange I came away with a list of recommendations, a positive impression of my new town and the reassuring experience of having found a kindred spirit. Omar and his wife Susana stock their store with eco-friendly products made in America, and when possible, made locally. In the center of the store are two comfortable chairs and a table intended for visiting. Just try dropping by without staying for tea. Animal Outfitters is a model for commerce the way it can and should be—it’s a people, planet, pet friendly place. If you’re in Buffalo, stop in and see if you don’t agree.