I came across this old ad for Buffalo Plumbing Discount while digging around in a basement crawl space in my other life. There were several old newspapers, Buffalo Evening News and Courier Express from the 1960s and 70s.
Most were in pretty rough shape, but they were still better to work around then the pile of broken windows on the other side of the crawlspace. The few Metro pages that didn’t disintegrate had some cool old ads in them. Most were pretty much what you’d expect; Sattlers, Kleinhans, Sears. One smalll ad that caught my eye was for Buffalo Plumbing Discount Center.
When I saw it, I thought it was actually for a different plumbing place we’ve passed over on Fillmore on our way to B&L. For some reason, that place had stuck with me, so when I saw the ad I took a few pictures of it. It wasn’t until later I double-checked the addresses and it looks like they’re different bison plumbing companies. There seems to be (or at least have been) a lot of “Bison Plumbing” companies.
Apparently naming every business in Buffalo with some variation of Buffalo, Bison, Queen City or Nickel City in the name wasn’t limited to the city’s renaissance and was just as prevalent back in the day when Broadway and Fillmore were lined with successful businesses.
The Bison Plumbing City on Fillmore is now a boarded up building, and Bison Discount Plumbing Center on Broadway is just an empty lot. It isn’t the only empty lot along Broadway or throughout the city’s East Side and the Broadway-Fillmore District. Those empty lots, sadly, represent the sum total of redevelopment that the city had invested in for those areas while Canalside and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus swell and absorb millions of dollars.
The newspaper wasn’t in the best shape, but that was cool, it gave the logo a distressed look. The problem was keeping that distressed, worn look without there being a lot of white scratchiness in the letters when I added a background color. There are probably actual ways of fixing that, but I don’t know what they are; I layered a couple copies each of the logo and background color of varying opacity, merged them, and then tweaked the lighting. It’s worked for the past when I’ve wanted to layer in a texture or old paper look, like on my Whistle Pig logo, and it did the trick here, too.
Four years ago on December 17th, I received a message while I was out with some friends, from someone who had found this “Welcome to Cheektavegas” design on CafePress, where I had some designs up on glasses or water bottles or something. She asked if it was available as an art print and although it wasn’t at the time—I hadn’t had a chance to really get my Society6 page going—I asked her to give me an hour, at which point I raced home and worked on uploading the design.
I’d used Society6 for some other work I’d done, but only had my personal stuff up on CafePress and I hated (and still hate) the process there to upload designs on new products. Society6 was so much easier to use, even if there was a lot of resizing involved to meet each items pixel requirements and dimensions.
My shop wasn’t set up because I’d been dragging my feet a little on it; some of the designs weren’t ready or needed to be updated, cleaned up a little, or just weren’t good enough. I was figuring things out with Photoshop as I went, I’m amazed some of those early designs o came up with looked as good as they did. And I didn’t really think they looked that great, but it was the best I could do.
I was able to upload the design and message her back that it should show up shortly; I opened a beer, sat back and waited then for my first sale with Society6, the first $1.46 I earned on my own.
That would be the only money I made until the following September, but it was still pretty cool. That first year, I sold only three items. A few years and the Christmas season makes a big difference, since I sold three items today alone. And while I’m not selling massive amounts of stuff, usually enough a month to cover a tank of gas, I’m always going to be proud of what does sell, what people out there decide to buy, to bring into their homes or offer as gifts to the people in their lives. And I’ll always be grateful to that first customer who messaged me and got me moving.
And also a little terrified that my stuff is garbage. That’ll never change.
Recently, I came across an old clock hanging in a customer’s bathroom. It was a cool Buffalo skyline illustration, and then I noticed the AM&A’s name and year and thought it would be cool to clean it up and make a new clock.
The original one was square, so looking at it now, I may need to go back and move the 9 & 3 out a bit to fit the new circular clock face Society6 uses.