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Message from the President | August 2019

President/CEO A.J. Baynes
President/CEO A.J. Baynes

Is retail dead?

I get asked that question a lot, especially as changes take place at well-known sites such as the former Northtown Plaza, the Boulevard Mall and the Eastern Hills Mall.

The short answer is no.

While there is no arguing the explosive growth of online shopping, buying in stores is still very much alive. Retailers that are surviving and thriving are willing to change with the times. They are closely aligning their stores with their online presence, providing unique products and building customer loyalty by creating a positive emotional connection with shoppers.

The old retail model won’t work anymore, and we are fortunate in Amherst to have many reputable local and out-of-town developers committed to reworking the retail landscape in our area for generations to come.

Real estate mogul Douglas Jemal, of Washington, D.C., is now the sole developer in the Boulevard Mall revamp that is being rebranded as Boulevard Place. He will focus on turning the mall of shops into a lifestyle center with a mix of residential, office, entertainment and retail space. You can read more about this project in the Chamber in the News segment of this newsletter.

Today’s Tuesday Talk is another good example of the positive change happening in our community. David Schutte of Creekview and Oliver’s restaurants is no stranger to the local hospitality scene and is now expanding into the craft beer industry. BriteSmith Brewing is under construction on Main Street in Williamsville and is expected to open by this fall. Check out our video to find out more about Schutte’s beer pub and how the Chamber helped him reach some of his construction goals.

There is no better place to enjoy summer than at Sahlen Field with the Buffalo Bisons, so the Chamber jumped at the chance to team up with the Better Business Bureau and several other area Chambers for a mega-event on the party deck on August 13th. We know collaboration is beneficial to everyone, and we are committing to more joint events in the coming months. We have dozens of people already signed up for the game, but there is still plenty of room for more. For a ticket price of $38, you get to see the game with an all-you-can-eat buffet and unlimited soft drinks. It will make for a great Tuesday night! You can buy your tickets here.

Don’t forget our Sexual Harassment Prevention Training next week (register here) and get a jump on some September events, like our Open ProNet at West Herr Toyota Williamsville on the 10th (register here). Our West Herr Driven to Success continues in September with the person Buffalo Business First named most influential in WNY, Kaleida President/CEO Jody Lomeo. Attendance is limited for that event on September 12, so be sure to register here.

We know you’ll be enjoying these last few weeks before the fall routine starts again, but be sure to keep the Chamber on your radar and remember, my door is always open.

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