pictured above: Rapper Westside Gunn speaking during his grand opening of Buffalo Kids at Galleria Mall photo by A. Dorcely
The vibration was high at the Walden Galleria Mall with hundreds who came out to show their love and support for Griselda Records visionary and artist Westside Gunn at his grand opening of BUFFALO KIDS, a one-of-a-kind art and lifestyle gallery he envisioned some years ago that is now a reality.
“The city has never seen anything like this… as soon as they open up the borders people from all over the world will come see our city. They’re going to come see Niagara Falls and they’re going to come see BUFFALO KIDS” said Gunn confidently speaking to the crowd outside his gallery that stretched as far back as the apple store.
Fans from near and far and all walks of life and ethnicities were masked up and proudly sporting their signature and exclusive apparel from the brand, ready to purchase new merchandise and meet the artist to congratulate him on his latest come up.
“ I’m so proud of Westside Gunn for investing in the City of Buffalo and Erie County,” said Erie County Legislature Chairwoman April Baskin after presenting him with a proclamation and thanking the mall and other organizers who helped bring Gunn’s vision to fruition.
Gunn does it for the culture and has plans for programs in the arts for the city he loves that loves him back.
“I just want to push the culture forward” said Gunn swagged out in his signature scorpion jacket and colorful café lid after being presented the proclamation from Legislator Baskin. “I want to push the artworld forward. I know for a long time there hasn’t been a lot of music programs or a lot of art programs. I think that’s my calling for the city, so I’m gonna do what I can to make that happen.”
“This is a monumental time for the city when you have one of Buffalo’s own who’s leading the pack in the industry right now coming back home to open not a store, but a Gallery, because all his cloths are art. It’s just amazing ” said Buffalo’s Go Getta and multi-airwave radio host Adri V.
With the recent decline in traffic and store closings long before the pandemic, the vibrant 1,320 sq ft storefront that sits across from Starbucks on the malls lower level is a true attraction. Inside the store’s bright décor is featured a curated collection of original art, apparel and merchandise including the ever popular and brightly fashioned “Fly God” A1 custom sneakers that were in high demand opening day.
“ I hear they have baby merch too” said a man who identified himself as “Detroit” who had just arrived from Michigan. BUFFALO KIDS Art Gallery is a whole new wave with something for everyone.
Young artist Kenzie Tarantino from Atlanta wanted to be there for the moment. “It’s important what he’s doing for the culture, for this city, for music and hip-hop, its something that nobody else is doing.”
“Its just more about the next generation” said Gunn. “Somebody has to lead by example and show people it’s time to make a change. There’s so much negativity in the city it’s like a dark cloud,” he continued , raising his hand to the store front. “But look at the line outside, there are people from the suburbs, the inner city …all over the country right now in unity. So if I can do that, just imagine if we keep doing it over and over again,” said Gunn.
Buffalo Influencer Valentino Shine shared his enthusiasm about the impact the artist has had overall. “This is great for the community, I know everybody used to want to be from NYC, now I think everybody’s gonna want to be from Buffalo NY. I’m proud to be a Buffalo Kid born and raised.”
“This was a longtime dream, and so It’s time to do a lot more for the community…Buffalo has had it rough. We’ve been through a lot, experienced a lot of heartbreak, a lot of poverty.I want to be the face of showing people that you can do whatever you want to do if you put your heart to it, trust God, trust your family and trust your vision.”
Westside Gunn who along with his brother Conway the Machine and their first cousin Benny the Butcher are the artists behind Griselda Records signed with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation.
The store will feature Buffalo Kids and Westside Gunn apparel and footwear, along with his popular wrestling company’s clothing line, Fourth Rope, and items from Griselda by Fashion Rebels. On the refreshment tip, you can now purchase Libby’s Lemonade by 11 year old youth entrepreneur Olivia Brooks who began her brand when she was 5 years old. “ It’s the best lemonade in the world” he said sipping at the podium during the ceremony.
The rapper also has plans to host several meet and greet events with celebrities inside the store. Follow @BuffaloKidsGallery on Instagram for updates