Shop Local Rochester: Myths, Gifts, + Favs!

{ To The Late Mr. “Klonks” Klondike. My forever Elf + Soul Mate. }








{ This holiday, a curly-haired elf named BESL gift-wraps your season with a whole lotta #shoplocalroc love. We’re dressing-up our normal categories — Lifestyle, Tips + Tricks, Week Wrap-Up — so you can #Roc The Holiday right. From now until 12/24, sprinkle the season with — Myths, Gifts, + Favs — and out-sparkle those snow crystals … just to show them who is boss. }

look good, feel good

MYTHS – Not your typical shopping. Why don’t we #ShopLocal more?? We already know that it’s:

  • affordable
  • unique
  • convenient
  • sustainable
  • fun

Because it’s not a part of our daily habits! Tiny myths we’ve learned along the way have become huge barriers that keep #ShopLocal from our daily routines. This season, BESL dispels these 5 mighty myths:

  1. no parking!
  2. too expensive!
  3. not a 1-stop-shop!
  4. out of the way!
  5. weird hours!

this weekend: rmsc holiday bazaar rwms ultimate women’s expo

{ I’ll be at rwms with ouzon soda sat! }

GIFTS – Not your typical gifting. Gift giving–great gift giving–shouldn’t have to be a mystery. The secret?

  • what
  • where

Knowing what makes a gift great + knowing where to find that gift are 2 very different things. They often contradict! { Many of the greatest gifts, are the rarest. } All season long, #shoplocalroc guides you to more satisfying gifts.

better than a star in the sky + 10 reindeer

Just look at all these resources!

{ Take the Pledge! }
Shop Local Rochester 

FAVS – Not your typical favs. Hidden gems. When shopping, we seek-out hidden gems more than a healthy cookie recipe we’re not ashamed to swap. { Or keep secret. } #ShopLocal is chocked-full of hidden gems! The best part? They’re:

  • directly in our neighborhoods and backyards
  • at familiar spots
  • even in our homes!

This season, here are BESL’s top picks:

  1. Festivals + Bazaars – 3 Weekends of Handcrafted, Fair Trade, Locally Owned Businesses
  2. Thrift – Let the Preparations Begin!
  3. Arts + Reads – Stay Classy
  4. Food + Drink – Hoppy Holidays: Get Cultured
  5. Secret Spots – Stealthy + Strategic

Shopping is inevitable this holiday season.
Make it fun + make it count with Shop Local Rochester.



Spokes + Ink Festival: June 7, 2014.

{Photo taken from Spokes + Ink Website.}






WHERE: 317 WILCOX ST. {That’s my last name. Please do not excuse the enthusiasm.} MONROE AVE, BETWEEN OXFORD + RUTGERS.





“It’s a Monroe Ave block party mashup of cycling enthusiasts, local artists, cold beer, live music, unique vendors, and stuff for the kids.” –Facebook Event

I have been to Genesee Center. But I’ve never been to Spokes + Ink! Both are just down the street from where I live. Genesee Center for the Arts + Education (GCAE), member of The National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts + a community based non-profit on Monroe Ave {near 490}, “transforms lives” and our Rochester community. Celebrating its 4 year this June, I am seriously excited to finally check out GCAE’s Spokes + Ink’s Festival! Aside from general dopeness, here are my Top Pics:



WHO: Locally produced prints by local graphic artists, letterpress artists, + photographers.

WHAT: All $20! This year’s? See examples HERE. {ALERT : High Level of Pure Talent.}



WHO: The Pickpockets

WHAT: Bootleg Ass Cassette Mixtape. I gotta find out more about these guys.

WHERE: 1st saw them live at 1975 Gallery for an event in partnership with The Little Theatre.

WHY: True musicians. Haunting music … that makes you dance!




WHERE: All along Monroe Avenue. Get your FUNK on.


WHO: Skateboards. BMX-ers. Fathers. Athletes. KRUDCO. Community.

WHAT: Fundraising Initiative + Advocacy Group.

WHY: To get a “well-let, safe, outdoor, community center for the entire family” up in Rochester, NY.


WHO: Amber Odhner + Catelyn Augustine

WHAT: Local + Organic artisan ice cream. Gluten free + vegan options! So delicious!!!

WHERE: South Wedge Farmers’ Market, Thurs 4-7 | Joe Bean Coffee Roasters, Fri 6-9 | Brighton Farmers’ Market, Sun 9-1 | Abundance Cooperative Market  | { My 1st time? At Rochester Brainery‘s Brainery Bazaar. }


WHO: Printing + Book Arts Center

WHAT: Classes + Studio Access for “letterpress printing, bookbinding, book arts, paper making, + calligraphy.”

be a spoke, leave your ink

Spokes + Ink Festival spins the wheels of collaboration + creativity within Rochester, NY. Each organization, each shop, each band, each business that contributes to this fest is another spoke in the wheel of Rochester. Growing. Thriving. Connecting. Moving. Spokes + Ink is more than a festival and more than a block party. Spokes + Ink is a lifestyle. Spokes + Ink links us to our greater Rochester community. Ultimately, Spokes + Ink helps us to spin the wheels that keep Rochester moving.

Thank you to Genesee Center for the Arts + Education and to Communications Specialist Kate Edgerton for this indelible festival!!

See ya there!








Shop Local. Park Ave Summer Art Fest in the ROC.

#ShopLocal Park Ave Summer Art Fest:


Crowds. Coffee. Live Music. Park Ave Summer Art Fest.

Delicious. Talented. Unique. With an innumerable variety of vendors up and down the thoroughfares of Park Avenue, it’s impossible to catalog every satiating stand. This year, I’m focusing on the old + the new + the lesser known that must become familiar to you. Older Traditions include VonBrake Spices, mixing it up for 15 years, and Thelma’s Mastectomy Boutique, which has supported women for over 30. Newer include Vegetabowls, from Buffalo, Chartreuse Studios, which sells Blue Honey Jewelry + Candles, and Treasure Trove Vintage, which rounds off a burgeoning Fashion District at the corner of Park + Meigs in its neighbor’s {Peppermint} old digs. #ShopOld #ShopNew #ShopLocal #ShoptheAvenue


Jenn with an array of gourmet spices + spice boxes, made by and which benefit School of the Holy Childhood.

VonBrake Spices.

It was the first stand I saw and the first birthday present I knew I wanted to buy for Momsly. Perched  on the lawn of The Generosity Store, a local boutique whose proceeds benefit School of the Holy Childhood, sat VonBrake Spices. Vegetable sprays, neatly lined spices, spice boxeshandmade by students at School of the Holy Childhood–adorned the tent where smiling faces greeted my arrival. Jenn Brake, relation to creator and Executive Chef Dennis Brake, carefully explained eacspice. From classic to the exotic, she helped me to select the perfect match. What does your mom cook? Does she like savory or spicy? A kid in a candy shop, I skipped from jar to jar. Espresso, sweet yet earthy. Thai Spice, tangy and exotic. Roasting Spice, just like home. Artisan, gluten free, MSG-free, anti-caking agent, and preservative free: all varieties resound with a freshness attained only through quality ingredients and preparation characteristic to what we call the real deal. And, trust, VonBrake Spices is 100% real.

Garam Masala!? My mom shrieked as she peeled back the humble paper bag from whence Jenn packaged the Indian spice. Gracious eyes stared my way. It was the spiciest they had, I answered. I have always wanted to try Garam Masala, my mother responded. Spot-on. Jenn’s expert recommendation was spot-on: Go for the spice + go for something unique. Once I smelled the fragrant and balanced blend emanating from VonBrake’s sample jars, I knew I had to bring home this unique culinary concoction. (If not for Momsly’s cooking enjoyment, then at least for my eating pleasure!) At $7/jar, VonBrake Spices is a tasteful #ShopLocal purchase. Furthermore, buying VonBrake Spices through The Generosity Store, which sits just across from Parkleigh and next to Great Harvest Bread Company, means a gift that continues to give. Support your #ShopLocal. Support your local community. Support your spice pantry.



Thelma’s Mastectomy Boutique has been on Park Ave + has been making women beautiful for over 30 years!!

Thelma’s Mastectomy Boutique.

Brassieres hanging on the porch? I’mt here. Thelma’s is a beautiful anomaly. Perched front + center between Goodman St. and Park Ave, the quaint and quiet storefront can easily be mistaken for a well-kept house. Likewise, while whimsies + trinkets color the store pretty, Thelma’s real beauty lays in the love+ professionalism that opened her doors. Thelma, a corsetiere for over 28 years at a leading department store, and Sandy (still the owner), a registered nurse for over 45 years, began Thelma’s to support women who have had mastectomy or breast-related surgeries.

During Park Ave Fest, 3 lovely women filled me in on the history. Thelma’s, a 30 year mainstay in the Park Ave neighborhood, is not a lingerie shop, per say. Rather, a business that serves women who have or who have survived breast cancer by fitting them with prosthetics, bras, lingerie, and even wigs and headwear. Megan, the great niece of Thelma, explained that Thelma’s (original co-owner) welcomes & fits any women in need of breast prosthetics or lymphedema products.Thelma’s also sells sportswear, which boasts a shelf bra, and super cute/sexy camisoles. From hat pins to homemade chemo beanies: every potential necessity becomes a chic and classy, dignified and fun accessory. You must visit the website to fully understand what this Park Ave diamond offers. Better yet, head over to 251 Park Ave and look for yourself. I am so excited and incredibly proud to know that Thelma’s watches over our sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, daughters, and friends, and at a door closer than you think.


Fruit? Vegetables? How about Vegetabowls! Homemade clay eartenware molded + made right in Buffalo, NY.


Pretty sure I scared this guy. But the earthenware is that exciting! So exciting it’s worth scaring strangers with unbridled enthusiasm. First, look at that name. Vegetabowls. Now, say it aloud. Vegetabowls. …It’s adorable! If you think the name is something, wait until you lay eyes on the product. Earthenware bowls molded from actual fruit and vegetables + colored with the precision of Mother Nature herself. Or more precisely, molded from Mother Nature using clay molds and painted by creators and owners Melanie and Justin McKenney. #ShopLocal. Natural. Beautiful. Functional. Earthenware. I cannot get enough. If you need more convincing, let Vegetabowls’ Press do it for you. (We’re talking Martha Stewart American Made Awards, among others.) Not only are these handmade delectibowls and not only are they incredibly functional, but they are also unique and affordable art!!! I bought Momsly a tomato bud vase/candle holder for her birthday. The woman loves to grow tomatoes, she loves to cook sauce, and this handmade earthenware vase is only $8.

#ShopLocal, friends. Based out of Buffalo, NY, Vegetabowls might not be made in your home city, but Vegetabowls can be found in a store near you and on Etsy. What’s more, Vegetabowls are a home-based operation worthy in dollar + design. Texture, color, price, function: ranging from the Salsa Set to the Artichoke Bud Leaf to the Watermelon Serving Bowl to the Watermelon Mini Bowl, Vegetabowls fit all wants + occasions. I cannot wait to give Vegetabowls as a gift for weddings, as a gift for thank yous, as a gift for housewarmings, as a gift for birthdays, and as a gift for myself. What can I say? Vegetabowls just bowl-me-over.


Julie of Blue Honey Jewelry & Candles holding her handmade trinket necklace. Chartreuse Studio TATTOO umbrella beneath.

Chartreuse Studios.

How many times have you rounded Oxford (or in my case, one of the Vicks)–maybe on your way to lunch at Magnolia’s or Hogan’s, or to a soothing retreat in the RMSC Herb Gardens, perhaps anauthentic dinner at Roam Café or Bacco’s—and you’ve walked directly past Chartreuse Studios?? Think about it. The quietly intriguing façade, tucked inside of a neighborhood home, so true to the architectural flare + personality of Park Ave. How many times? This is exactly what Julie C. Rodda, Designer + Mad Creator of Blue Honey Jewelry & Candles joked as she cashed me out on the lawn of Chartreuse Studios during Park Ave.

Pebbles in my mouth, I completely stumbled upon words before spitting them onto the ground. You ladies are from Rochester!? Vintage umbrella, handmade jewelry, nautical pottery: custom, one of a kind designs unfurled onto the lawn of Chartreuse and the sidewalk of Park Ave. If you’re from Rochester, and you’re located on Park Ave,and you’re not from The City … My eyes grew wide … I can shop here all of the time! And then it dawned on me. How could I, Barbara Ellen-#ShopLocal-RocOPhile, live directly around the corner and, every week, walk by?? Make no mistake, fellow boutique lovers: Chartreuse Studios is not just a hair salon and it is not just fine art. Like the color for which it is named, Chartreuse (which sells Blue Honey Jewelry & Candles), is class + it is sass. Chartreuse is #ShopLocal. My favorite find? Handmade Blue Honey charm necklace: a glass stopper filled with minuscule watch parts that you can replace with any trinket you desire! (But the cogs are so cool.) Even Brooklyn Charm, a jewelry shop that hipster’s gush for openly, would covet this piece. But we are not in Brooklyn. We are not in New York City. We are on Park Avenue. In Rochester, NY. And Chartreuse and Blue are our Rochester own. 


Smitten with Treasure Trove Vintage. (I bought the champagne colored one!)

Treasure Trove Vintage. 

I felt elated when the first piece of timeless, delicate, feminine clothing erected itself, seemingly overnight, in the former façade where Peppermint once stood. Elated that Treasure Trove Vintage, a classically hip, new store, did justice to this space. Similar to Chartreuse, I’m ashamed to say that I’ve not yet stepped foot into this fashion paradise. Moreover, I ’m stoked to say that I will. A lot. Work blouses? Yes. Special occasion dresses? You bet. Vintage jewelry pieces? Please. Gifts? Absolutely. More so, I am happy to report that the Power of Park Ave is ultimately what united me with this boutique.

Pick a decade: 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, earlier, later. Treasure Trove Vintage has a fabulous eye for vintage finds both timeless in style and in feel. The gleam of patterned blouses, one very reminiscent to an Anthropologie herring bone, flopped neatly in a box and caught my eye like doubloons in a chest. Gelato pinks and browns; red, white, and blue with bows: on-sale for just $15. I felt luxurious and silly all at once for buying just 1. Treasure Trove Vintage will revamp my entire work and social-wear wardrobes. Soft polyesters, resonant of a bygone era and still flirty for today: simply too splendid not to hunt-down. Let alone the timeless purses and classic accessories, which I must explore more. X marks the spot at Treasure Trove Vintage. Make sure you find this gem … and make sure to tell me all about it! 

 * * *


Just Chalking Sidewalk Chalk Art! I die.








Vegetarian + Gluten Free Poutine by Le Petit Poutine!! Marty’s Meats Food Truck.

Live music. Garrulous crowds. Sidewalk chalk art. The entire festival is amazing. Park Avenue Summer Art Fest speaks volumes to the dynamic nature of Rochester, its communities, and to Park Ave itself. Support for #EatLocal, with food trucks like Le Petit Poutine & Marty’s Meats, enhance the patchwork while each tent, vendor, cart, bar and restaurant imbues meaning to the next.  My favorite fabric to this quilt? The #ShopLocal texture. Park Ave Summer Art Fest brings vitality to the stores, boutiques, and treats that–right in our own backyard–I never knew existed. What will you find?? Here’s to end of summer next year.



Park Ave Summer Art Fest.