By Mary Heyl

On days when it’s so cold that the snow squeaks under your boots and the wind makes your eyes water, it may be tempting to imagine a place where it rarely snows and the sun shines all the time. Although it’s impossible to walk into a building and experience just that, walking into Daff Dry Goods is about as close as it gets. Owner Laura Solly’s eye for fashion and experience out west come together to offer visitors an inspired collection of men and women’s clothing, shoes and homewares that bring a much-needed ray of southwestern sunshine to snowy Ellicottville.

Daff Dry Goods (short for Dina and Arleen’s Fish Fry) opened in 1997 and was originally owned and operated by Solly’s mother, Arleen, and Dina Dipasquale, who both owned businesses of their own: Kazoo II and Dina’s restaurant. Upon graduating from the University of Montana (where Solly transferred after studying in New Mexico) and returning home in 2000, Solly began managing the store for her mother and eventually bought out Dipasquale’s part and her mother’s part of the business. Since then, Daff, which is still right next door to Kazoo II, has continued to grow and become part of the unique history of this particular block on Washington Street.

A visit to Daff reveals that it actually occupies two connected buildings, which have a unique history. Built in the late 19th century, Solly’s building has been a liquor store, a cutlery store and even a schoolroom. Like many older buildings, Daff is comprised of multiple rooms, both large and small, much like the dry goods stores that early settlers of the American West would have depended on.

One of the store’s rooms is actually a “shoe store within a store,” making Daff a destination shop for many. Solly explained, “In the earlier years of our store, we had about 10 pairs of shoes and now we have over 100 pairs!”

Daff is known for its excellent selection of name brand high-quality boots and shoes including Danskos, Jambu footwear, Uggs and more. In keeping with Solly’s American West-inspired merchandise, Daff also carries a beautiful selection of Ariat riding boots and Minnetonka footwear including moccasin-style slippers for men, women and children.

Toward the back of the store, Daff houses a unique collection of homewares that you’ll want to take advantage of to ward off chilly weather. Shop a great variety of Pendleton and Woolrich blankets and throws in striking patterns and color combinations, many of which are inspired by Native American designs. These soft, warm wool blankets make a wonderful gift, although you may find it hard to part with them.

Speaking of gifts, Daff Dry Goods is the perfect place to start your shopping, whether it’s for Valentine’s Day, a birthday gift, or just because! “Our customer service is what sets us apart and gives customers an experience they can’t get when shopping online. We’re happy to offer gift wrapping and gift boxes year ‘round,” said Solly, whose store also carries gift cards. Even for those gifts that miss the mark, Daff Dry Goods is happy to accommodate their customers with a 30-day exchange and return policy (for credit card purchases). Why go through the hassle of mailing back a return and waiting for the refund or new item when you can take care of it all at Daff Dry Goods?

In addition to an impressive assortment of shoes, boots and homewares, Solly’s store regularly carries men’s and women’s clothing and accessories from brands including Brighton, Patagonia and Pendleton. For those looking forward to warmer days ahead or traveling to Florida for the remaining winter months, Daff Dry Goods will soon be stocking their spring items, which include a selection of Patagonia clothing in beautiful pastels and lighter fleeces and cottons that are perfect for warmer temperatures.

Daff Dry Goods, which is located at 17 Washington Street, is open daily at 10 a.m. Learn more about Solly’s story at www.daffevl.com, and be sure to follow Daff Dry Goods on Facebook and Instagram.