Family patriarch Nordy Rockler opened the doors of his first store in 1954 to supply his fellow craftsmen with knowledge, friendly advice, and a large selection of tools for at-home woodworking projects. Now, the chain of retail outlets brims with more than 20,000 tools and specialized woodworking equipment. Next to a steely rainbow of hinges, casters, and screws, a supply of lumber and exotic hardwoods provides planks for building tree houses or just leaving around as a warning to uncooperative trees. The tenor buzz of power tools operated by newly knowledgeable guests drifts from educational sessions on operating equipment and woodworking.
Gangs of ottomans and mattresses populate Atlantic Bedding and Furniture, whose continually changing designs from Coaster, Forbidden City, Harden, Sealy, Old Town Imports, and other top brands help customers capture the furniture species of their choice sans long waiting periods. Treat hard-working eye awnings to a decadent break with a solid-hardwood Leonardo bed ($347–$516) backed by a strong, modern headboard the color of morning espresso but the flavor of tufted upholstery. Taking home a Davenport nightstand ($125) means never having to precariously perch glasses or bequeathed dentures on thin windowsills.
For more than two decades, American Beauties Florist has been hand-selecting arrangements of floral buds to decorate homes and bestow upon loved ones. The full-service florist includes a garden center and whips up thoughtful gifts for significant others, from Lovely Lilies, stargazer lilies in a glass cylinder vase ($45), to Sweet Moments, a white basket overflowing with white roses, purple alstroemeria, lavender waxflowers, and eucalyptus ($47.95). Those who prefer greener packages can have a staring contest with the Serene Retreat, a colorful amalgamation of white hypoestes, green dieffenbachia, spathiphyllum, ficus, and boston fern in a clay dish ($47.95).
Jenny’s Clayhouse, one of Buffalo’s first and only paint-your-own-pottery studios, calls out to artists and craftists looking to cast off faded paint-by-number books to animate stylish ceramics while sipping on home-brought spirits. Sloping picture windows span from floor to ceiling in the airy space, splashing sunlight across the studio’s selection of domestic staples—including mugs, plates, and piggy banks. After guests gleam the once-white objets d'art, Jenny’s staff will summon flames to bake and glaze the handheld masterpieces to protect them from wear and raw-food dieters. Pintsize painters can polish their brushstrokes at Jenny’s summer-camp sessions, or gather friends, teachers, and New York Times art critics for a pottery-painting birthday party or after-school outing.
In 1919, Henry H. Elbers hung up his hat as director of the Buffalo Botanical Gardens to start a new adventure: founding Elbers Landscape Service Nearly a century later, his enterprise still mows lawns and equips gardeners with trowels to comb their hair. The company’s landscaping experts spend their summers enlivening yards with new shrubs and trees, installing burbling fountains, and paving walkways. Their garden center outfits green-thumbed clients with supplies such as mulch, topsoil, and perennials and annuals. During icy winters, the professionals exchange their mowers for plows to evict squatting snowmen from driveways, sprinkle salt over sidewalks, and chip ice from stoops.