When I think of interesting destinations in Buffalo, CooCoo U comes directly to mind. The mid-century modern furniture and accessories Mecca has stood the test of test of time, thanks to the fortitude of its owner, Michael Merisola. Over the years, Michael has amassed a collection of mid-century modern findings unlike anything imaginable. I consider a stopover to his warehouse a must, for anyone visiting this city. Rarely have I ever paid a visit to scrounge around the CooCoo U warehouse that I have not bumped into other like-minded collectors of Danish modern and Bauhaus furniture, minimalist lighting, and contemporary artwork… many of whom hail from such cities such as Toronto, NYC, and Chicago.
I first remember meeting Michael at his shop on Hertel Avenue well over two decades ago. He eventually outgrew that space. Since that time, I have devotely followed him, from warehouse pop-ups, to Chandler Street, and to his most recent outpost on Tonawanda Street.
When I heard that Michael was dealing with some issues pertaining to City code (outdated sprinkler system), and that he was in search of a new place to conduct his retail portion of the business, I immediately understood the dire circumstance. I could not imagine a Buffalo without an “open for business” CooCoo U.
Fortunately, as luck would have it, Bill Breeser was busy working his own magic around the corner on Niagara Street. Bill has been on a roll for the past few years – busy fixing up a series of warehouse spaces in order to accommodate a plethora of restaurateurs and retailers. You might say that he’s been able to create his own micro-district thanks to his ability to turn around the awe-inspiring spaces (learn more). While it was very sad to hear that Twin Petrels Seltzer Co. will be closing at the end of the year, the demand for retail space on Niagara Street remains strong thanks to the mix of businesses that continue to open in Bill’s buildings, including Mortalis Brewing Company and Beulah’s Diner, among others.
It is that same demand (and virtually limitless space and potential) that prompted Michael to speak to Bill about a retail opportunity at 1261 Niagara Street, in the heart of the corridor. It didn’t take long before the two struck a deal, which means that CooCoo U will now have a 6000 square foot retail presence on the street.
I stopped into the new retail space yesterday, which is currently being converted into a haven for mid-century modern furniture and artifacts.
Upon completion, the storefront will resemble the other sharp facades that flank it (on both sides of the street). In the middle of the shopfront, there will be a commercial-grade garage door that will open and close, to allow for larger pieces of furniture and art to be loaded and unloaded. Unlike CooCoo U’s Tonawanda Street location, the Niagara Street space is all situated on the ground floor, except for an elevated office that overlooks the showroom, where Michael can happily perch when he’s not engaged with customers.
Michael’s vast treasure trove of expertly curated mid-mod merchandise will be a big boon for Niagara Street. As the district continues to make additional strides to become a more walkable neighborhood, the addition of a high profile mid-century modern furniture retail showroom is another transformational piece of the ever-evolving puzzle… sprinklers and all.
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