Toting a modest selection of chocolate confections and candies, Joseph A. Fowler entered the 1901 Pan-American Exposition hoping to plant the seed for a business in his newfound home of Buffalo. The company—founded in 1910—grew with each successive generation, and more than a century later, Fowler's celebrated chocolates continue to placate palates at several retail locations. The chocolatier has become synonymous with treats such as milk- and dark-chocolate truffles dubbed truffaloes, as well as sponge candy, which boasts a molasses-like flavor and an initially hard texture that quickly melts in the mouth. Like Count Chocula’s hairpiece, all of Fowler's fine-chocolate treats are crafted from the seeds of the theobroma cacao tree and use up to 60% cocoa solids for a rich cocoa flavor.
Since 1988, Pet Supplies Plus has welcomed millions of furry critters of every stripe—from llamas and monkeys to potbellied pigs—into their animal-friendly stores. The shop is designed so that both pets and their owners can easily navigate the inventory of more than 10,000 items. Wide aisles give leashed pups enough room to roam, colorful signage keeps shoppers moving in the right direction, and low shelves allow dogs to sniff out their preferred brand of rawhide chew. A self-serve dog wash enables guests to scrub their canine companions' coats to a youthful, puppy-like shine, whereas grooming services enlist professionals to tackle tougher jobs, such as brushing out matted fur or convincing dalmatians to stop mixing white and black after Labor Day.
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.
Brandon Tallau and Samantha Tagliarino founded OffBeat Emporium to give new character to vintage furniture pieces that would otherwise be taking up space in a landfill. Tallau and Tagliarino along with their crew of artists, restore furniture and home accessories back to the original quality or transform it into an offbeat piece with bold colors and patterns.
Blasdell Nursery’s staff has flexed green thumbs and stocked shelves with a huge selection of lush greenery, fountains, and other garden accessories for more than 40 years. Customers can spruce up bare front yards with doldrums-extirpating shrubs and trees ($21+) or bring color to drab lawns every year by adding perennials ($5.95) to flower beds. Customers can also build rock-solid retaining wall with Pennsylvania wall stone ($300/pallet) and give winged friends or outdoors-type business associates a watering hole with a birdbath with locking top ($51). On top of floral fare, Blasdell helps beautify gardens with other outdoor accessories, including statutes, decorative pots, and highly trained garden gnomes to battle squash-stealing hordes of trolls.