Think, Act, Be, LOCAL

Dear Fellow WNYers,

Buffalo First! is a nonprofit that believes in the power of locally owned and independent business to transform the Western New York region and economy. We are primarily focused on supporting social entrepreneurship, educating consumers on the importance of shopping local and businesses on the importance of sourcing local, encouraging diversity by supporting women and minority-owned businesses, advocating for better policies for homegrown and mission-driven businesses, and fighting for a local living economy that benefits workers, environment, businesses and citizens throughout Western New York.

     We envision a future where businesses are investors in the quality of life for all citizens. We challenge and support the business community to build profitable enterprises that serve community needs, share wealth, and protect the environment. READ MORE...


Day 1 Challenge


This idea was born in Buffalo and has now spread to over 70 cities and three countries. It’s received coverage in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Inc. Locally, it features Buffalo First! members exclusively.

Answer Here...


Fast Growing Companies


As a community entering into a season of renewed vitality and fresh possibilities, we are encouraged to shed the preconceptions of a long, barren winter. For many across WNY, the struggle of the wintery months is perfect analogy to a considerable period of stress facing a majority of Buffalo-based businesses. Despites widespread belief that local businesses are experiencing losses or remain frozen in the status quo- there are numerous organizations experiencing expansion, rebirth and surplus. From the perspective of local Human Capital Firm, APA Solutions Inc. and business leadership expert, Joan Graci, there could not be a better time for businesses in Buffalo, NY to grow. From Graci’s perspective, “organizations that are succeeding are doing different” and “those organizations that can successfully connect their unique corporate mission to niche markets, emerging technologies, holistically-connected employees and lean business practices are the first to break the cycle of stagnation.” Drawing from her extensive research on Inc 500|5000 companies, Graci and her team have made it their mission to mentor local organizations on the demands of “doing different” and strategically planning for advancement on a local, national and international scale. With respect to the emerging leaders of today’s vibrant Buffalo business community, APA Solutions recognizes the local businesses that embody the many forms of today’s growth, innovation and success: READ MORE...


Buffalo Branding Project

Most people are unaware of the incredible assets our city possesses. Could part of the problem be a “branding” issue?   Follow us as we explore some of our region’s most under “marketed” assets.

Text By Kyle Patterson.

Artwork by LJ Anderson, Kyle Patterson, Reilley Group

The perception of cities, and the mental image held of them, became active components of economic success or failure,” says Ann O'M. Bowman and Michael A. Pagano  in their book, Terra Incognito.  The fact is when it comes to building a global brand, companies like Coca-Cola, Proctor and Gamble and Nike have it down. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year assuring the brand names are on the tip of our tongue. The more exposure they have, the more mindshare in a consumers thoughts. Case in point—Kleenex became so good at branding, that the name, READ MORE...

Let Them LOL

An Interview with Co-Founder and Director of Let Them LOL, Kate Vacanti. Let Them LOL is a non-profit organization based in Buffalo raising funds for clean water wells in Sierra Leone, Africa.

Photos by Courtney Campbell

Sierra Leone is considered the poorest country in the world right now...what motivates or inspires you to do what you do there?

Sierra Leone has been at the bottom of the index of developing countries for a long time now. Although extremely poor, its people are some of the most inspiring, beautiful people I have ever met.

They have absolutely nothing, and yet they will give you whatever they do have. They have infectious smiles despite a daily struggle to simply survive.

There are a lot of needs in the world, we can't meet them all, but we can do something.  Nearly one billion people on our planet don't have access to clean water. The people involved with Let them LOL say that this is unacceptable. We can and we must do something to change that. Clean water gives the people of Sierra Leone a hand up, not a hand out. It empowers them to embrace a better future. READ MORE...

Church on Tap

Pearl Street Grill & Brewery offers more than just food & drinks.

By Kyle Patterson

After the dust has settled from the weekend gatherings at one of Buffalo’s premier city destinations, Pearl Street Grill and Brewery, there is another type of meeting that happens each Sunday morning within the four story brick structure at the corner of Pearl Street and Seneca. This group however isn’t there primarily to eat and drink, though they do serve a continental breakfast each Sunday gathering, they are there to meet as a community of faith, sharing the word of God from the Bible and singing together about the goodness of God through Jesus. 

Church on Tap is a growing community of Jesus followers who are, in their own words, intentional about breaking down barriers that have existed between “church world” and the rest of the world. This group of believers is composed of mostly young adults ages 20-30 something, and, READ MORE...


Seven Seas Sailing Open Enrollment

For 42 years Seven Seas Sailing Center has taught families around the region the love and art of sailing. Classes are open now for enrollment. Don't miss the opportunity that living next to one of the Great Lakes affords Western New Yorkers! Enroll Today.

Buffalo Branding Project

Our latest issue features a special new addition to the magazine called, The Buffalo Branding Project. The project is meant to be a collaberation of artists and creatives who want to lend a little of there talent to ideas and concepts around branding our city forward. In the article we put together a mock campaign for the city of Buffalo to communicate our value to the world and attract tourism and interest once again in our region. But this is just the beginning. There is a place for you to submit work and contribute to the conversation.

Does Shopping Local Make a Difference?

Our THRiVE! For A Cause section of our magazine featured Buffalo First! a non-profit that educated the community around the impact of supporting local business as oppossed to the big box retailers. Here is our infographic we designed to communicate the value of local. (Click image to enlarge)


Forward Motion

Business is good for many companies in Buffalo. Despite the recession, despite what the media has told us, good things are happening. In this issue’s cover story we explore some of the companies leading the way and showing us it is possible to thrive in Buffalo.

     We take that theme and carry it through the rest of our issue with coverage of this year’s Venture Forum hosted at the University of Buffalo Center for the Arts and the Albright Knox Art Gallery. The forum featured 33 companies leading the way in innovative business models. We also graphically explain, “How Cash Mobs Work,” a growing phenomenon amongst urban dwellers supporting a local business with a good “mob” of new customers.  Interestingly, the phenomenon has spread across the country and world as far as Australia and Europe. READ MORE...


Table of Contents Spring 2012


SPRING 2012 

Editor's Note, Around Town, Church on Tap, #BuffaloCashMob, LOL, Buffalo Branding Project, Fast Growing Companies, THRiVE! For A Cause (Buffalo First), Greasy Spoons, Spring Fashion, Trico, Atheletes in Action, Robbie Raugh, 8 Hour Drive, Music Studios, Faith, South Buffalo, Clarence Bungalow


A Sneak Peek At Our Next Cover

Here is a little behind the scenes look at our next cover. Couple tweaks still to be made but thought it was worth sharing.

Couple of great ways to be involved:

If you are a business your advertising helps support our partnership in this issue with Buffalo First!.

Also for businesses you can sell our publication at your place of business to raise support for our non-profit of choice in this issue. 

If you are a reader you can participate in our 30 Day Challenge and share the opportunity with your friends. 

Also for readers, you will be able to download this issue on your iPad and iPhone from the Apple Newstand.


Our Next 30 Day Challenge

THRiVE! is excited to announce that our Spring 2012 issue will be produced in support of Buffalo First!.

Each issue THRiVE! "adopts" a non-profit and joins forces to expand awareness, create exposure and challenge readers to take small action steps to support the non-profit. THRiVE! also creates something they call impact marketing where business, causes and engaged individuals intersect.

 Buffalo First is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization comprised of local independent "Main Street" businesses, organizations and concerned citizens. The mission of Buffalo First is to build a local, green and fair economy in the Buffalo-Niagara region. We encourage people to shop locally, we help independent businesses access local goods and services and we give independent businesses a united voice to shape better policies for local independent and green businesses. The goal is to root more dollars here, preserve community, and create a healthier environment.

Around Town

Tom Brady's careless (and uninformed) comment about Buffalo hotels sparked a wave of local reaction including but not limited to The Mansion on Delaware Avenue (MoDA). The luxury hotel has offered Tom Brady a free night stay in the luxurious hotel in downtown Buffalo and opened up a Facebook contest for participants on the social media site to join in the fun. Participants were encouraged to simply post, "Tom doesn't know what he is missing" on MoDA's Facebook wall and share it with your friends. Overall a fun way to build Buffalo camaraderie around a dirty shot at Buffalo.


Approval of UB’s NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant application by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher provides a critical piece of funding needed for UB to move ahead with its UB 2020 plan for academic excellence.

     In securing the $35 million Challenge Grant—together with additional funding provided through the NYSUNY 2020 legislation approved by the state Legislature in June—UB will move ahead with plans to hire new faculty across the university, expand its academic offerings and facilities for all students, and relocate the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.


Pro Football Hall of Fame Member and former Buffalo Bills Quarterback Jim Kelly, his wife Jill, and the Hunter’s Hope Foundation, hosted the 14th Annual Hunter’s Day of Hope for Children on Saturday, February 11 at the Buffalo Bills Healthy Zone Fieldhouse in Orchard Park.  This free    community event took place from 1:00PM - 4:00PM and included food, activities and entertainment for the whole family.







Every year for the past four years Buffalo City Mission in conjunction with technology partner Noobis launches their campaign to raise funds to continue ministering to the poor and homeless. Since February is one of the coldest winter months in WNY there is no better time to do it.  Because of that—this is also the time when many families in our area must make heartbreaking choices between rent costs, heating bill and feeding their families.  Locals are encouraged to join and help "Stamp Out Hunger" through hungerhunt.com.



On January 1, 2012, Mark C. Poloncarz was sworn in as Erie County’s eighth County Executive during a ceremony held at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.  Poloncarz said, “We’re going to do it by working together, finding common ground, listening and respecting one another.

     Erie County is much more than any one of us or any one place.  It’s urban, suburban and rural communities; its cities, towns, villages and even a few hamlets….And although issues and opinions differed from one place to another, we need to realize that we are all in this together.

     I am here today because Democrats and Republicans, Conservatives, Liberals and Independents put their faith in me.”



The search for an anchor tenant continues at Canalside with the community speaking out in favor of a local tenant rather than a heavily subsidize  national chain that takes money away from the local economy.



MERCYME and special guest Bebo Norman came to the University of Buffalo’s Center for the Arts this past December for a night of Christmas inspiration.  The strong dedication that MercyMe has shown to their music and ideology has helped the band reach a higher level of success than many of their contemporaries. Their career first took off in 2001 with the number one crossover smash, "I Can Only Imagine."