Thin Ice gift shop has made a home for itself at 719 Elmwood Avenue in the past nine years. Jewelry, pottery, and other local products are the staples of the shop, but the local artists and store cats give the business its character. Owner Therese Deutschlander sat down with us and told us more about her contribution to the village community and about her treasure of a shop.
EVA: Tell us a little about yourself.
TD: My name is Therese Deutschlander. I am the owner here. I opened in 2006 to have a place where local artists would to be able to sell their work to the local community.
EVA: Who is responsible for creating everything in your inventory?
TD: About 90% of everything in this store is handmade by local artists and everything in the store is handmade in the states. I work directly with all the artists.
EVA: What attracts you to a certain piece that a local artist created?
TD: The quality workmanship, but also if I think that there is a market for it. Some of the selling points are if I think that it’s something the community needs, something that will sell, and is mutually beneficial.
EVA: Can you tell us about your cats?
TD: The original store cat Atticus came with me when I was opening up the store. I didn’t mean for her to be the store cat, but she was a ham and loved all the people so I just let her stay. Then Simon will be two in August. I adopted his pregnant stray cat mom and fostered the kittens out of the store, but let him stay.
EVA: In what way has Elmwood influenced your business?
TD: It’s such a strong community here. I love Elmwood because they have the local artists I think that the community appreciates that I sell locally-made art. Foot shoppers are really great, but you get foot-shoppers at the mall. It’s like-minded individuals that live in Elmwood. They want to support the local artists. I want to support the local community and the local artists. It kind of works hand in hand.
EVA: How do you go about selecting classes to host?
TD: Again, the artists approach me. The vision boarding and the perfume making are from the artists I carry in the store already. It’s just a deviation of what they already make. There are other classes like health and wellness classes on Saturdays. Those people approach me and say, “Hey, can I host an event in your store?” If it’s something that would be beneficial to the community and I can stand by their product, then I absolutely would let them have an event here.
EVA: What are the most popular products here?
TD: I would say jewelry and pottery are my top sellers. I sell a lot of wedding gifts. Pottery makes a really good gift and people love the jewelry.
EVA: What’s your favorite part about running a business with a focus on local products?
TD: Definitely dealing with and working with all the local artists. It’s a lot of fun. Each artist is very individual in terms of personality and business sense and I love it. I love working from the ground up and watching them grow and evolve.
EVA: What is it about your products that make them special to give as gifts?
TD: The people connection. I could tell you everything about the product right down to what the artist was wearing when he or she brought it in. Because I work so close with artist, I think I know how much they put into each product. Some of them don’t want to let their art go because they worked so hard on it.
EVA: What’s something you think people might not know about the store?
TD: I have a lot of Buffalo- themed things too. It’s kind of become unexpected destination for when people are traveling abroad or when their kids travel abroad and take gifts for the host family. I am kind of capturing that market now and that has been an evolution.
EVA: What can we expect from Thin Ice in the next nine years?
TD: More classes. I want to get the community involved more and I want to bring the community together with the artists more. I love being able to sell the artists work, but I think that’s the appeal with local artists I want to have more events with artists where community can meet who is making their products.
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