After two years of selling vintage wares and handmade original art pieces, Eleonor Leon is closing her downtown boutique La Fashionista
. The funky little shop located at 45 S. Sixth Ave. will shutter by the end of the month, which Leon attributes to many different factors.
"It's not just one thing," she says. "Everybody start out down here with good intentions but the longer you have to wait for things to change, the harder it is."
She points to other stores, like Buffalo Exchange, that have closed their downtown spaces and even the lack of gallery space downtown.
"We're getting a Super Cuts where the Buffalo Exchange used to be and we're losing the flavor of downtown, she says, "I mean where's all the art? It's up on Sixth and Sixth."
While the street car did seem to drive more people downtown, Leon says the student crowd it brought wasn't really looking for what she was selling.
"My aesthetic is more of a fashion artist and that wasn't appealing to them," she says. "I just look at downtown and I think, 'where are all the galleries? Is it just bars and restaurants? Is it just a party town now?"
While Leon has spent the last two years as a business owner, manager, buyer, artist, single mother and teacher, she says the time has come to take off some of those many hats she wears and focus on other things.
"You get to a point where you're just exhausted and you have to be realistic," she says, adding, "I feel very happy and fulfilled. I had a dream and I did it."
While Leon's boutique is closing, she assures us she, her art and her unique taste in fashion will remain downtown through Second Saturday tables, performance art shows and fashion shows. She's also excited to release never before seen photography from a series she shot on the streetcar before it was operational. However, if you see Leon in the future, be careful not to say one thing to her.
"Don't say I'm sorry," she says. "That's what you say when somebody dies."
You can visit La Fashionista now through the end of the month, though Leon says the stores hours will begin to taper off towards the end so they can move out in time. Currently the store is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. After that, Leon says she will be donating her wares to Re-Threads Thrift (66 E. Pennington St.) and St. Vincent de Paul (820 S. Sixth Ave.).