By Deb Everts
Repeat customers who keep coming back to purchase their favorite items and new customers who are discovering Kazoo II for the first time all agree the store is unique.
Owner Arleen Solly said when she moved her business across the street six years ago,
the move gave her a chance to create a whole new store with a new look where customers still find unique, hand-picked items including home decor, folk art, jewelry, Americana and American Southwestern items, toys and a large children’s section stocked with books Solly hand-picked herself.
Everything has a story and Solly is happy to share details of the cultural selections with her customers. There is an entire area of the store devoted to beautiful handcrafted Mexican folk art. On the other side of the store, shoppers will see a wall area near the checkout counter covered with Milagros — meaning miracles — which are metal religious charms found in many areas in Latin America.
Solly, who makes her home in Colden, said she travels around the country in search of special items to carry in her store. She goes to trade shows all over the country, where she finds the biggest selection of merchandise to buy for her store.
“I pick things I think are appropriate and would appeal to my local customers, as well as those who are visiting from other areas,” she said. “Whatever I like, I buy to sell in my store. I don’t buy something because it’s popular or a so called ‘hot item’ because I’m not trendy. I really buy the kinds of things that touch me.”
When asked how she happened to open the first Kazoo II store in Ellicottville, Solly said a friend of hers bought the Kazoo Company in Eden and asked her to help on a consulting basis to restore the building and put in a little museum explaining how the kazoo was made, along with a gift shop.
“When my friend suggested we expand the business, I told him I’d like to expand it in Ellicottville because my kids skied here,” she said. “The storefront had a ‘for rent’ sign on it, so we rented it and Kazoo II was there for 20 years.”
Solly’s future plan is to retire at some point but, she said, she’s having fun right now. She loves the business, she loves going to the shows and buying, and she loves the people she works with.
“For right now, I have no desire to hang it up,” she said. “People kind of count on certain things we usually carry and I’m not going to be dramatically changing anything. I continue to evolve my store with what’s available and what I find. As I discover new and different things, I change it as I go along.”
Kazoo II is located at 21 Washington St. in the heart of Ellicottville. For more details, including store hours, call 699-4484 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.