BUFFALO, N.Y. — What makes the city of Buffalo so unique is that it’s full of small and local businesses started by families and real people who turned an idea into a reality. Because of the tight-knit and supporting community, local businesses thrive all throughout the city and the surrounding suburbs.
Ashker’s Juice Bar, located at 1002 Elmwood Ave. right in the middle of the city, is just one small business that has become so successful because of its loyal customers and authenticity.
Ashker’s, the first juice bar in Western New York, was started nine years ago by Sarah Nasca and her boyfriend, Angelo Ashker. When looking for a location for the juice bar, Nasca and Ashker wanted to be right in the action of the city, near colleges, families and the busy Delaware Park right next door.
“When we moved to Buffalo, we just went out on the streets and talked to the community,” said Nasca. “We wanted to base our business on the neighborhood and the people, providing a comfortable and friendly environment where everyone felt accepted.”
Business owners, such as Nasca, face many challenges to maintain stability within their company, especially financially. For Ashker’s, it’s all about staying affordable and making sure the customers have freshly made products every day. In order to keep their prices down, the employees must make sure they are not over using the products.
“We want to keep our prices low enough to make a healthy lifestyle part of people’s daily routine,” said Nasca. “To maintain our finances, we work with our employees to make sure the exact amount of product is in each juice and they are prepped correctly so we don’t waste and cause it to become costly.”
Supradeep Dutta, an Assistant Professor of Operations Management and Strategy in the School of Management at the University at Buffalo, says the most important things about managing a small business are recognizing your customer profile and targeting those consumers.
“The biggest challenges would be finding your financial resources and catering to the culture of mixed people in Buffalo,” said Dutta. “To utilize your capital and make operations more efficient, one option is obtaining advice from other business consultants on how to reduce your costs.”
Dutta says that maintaining a local business in a city such as Buffalo is much different than managing a local business in a city such as New York City or Chicago. However, as the economic challenges vary from business to business, you must always stay aware of the customer profile you want to target.
Thomas R. Ulbrich, Assistant Dean for Entrepreneurial Leadership at the University at Buffalo School of Management and Executive Director of Blackstone LaunchPad at UB, says there are many aspects in maintaining a local business, including hard work, passion, a great team and smart funding.
“Consider how you will fund your business knowing that you will likely need a runway that is twice as long and cost twice as much as you predicted,” said Ulbrich. “I always encourage entrepreneurs to bootstrap the early stages of their venture as much as possible.”
Ulbrich also explains that there is a difference in starting a business in a small community like Buffalo than starting a business in a larger city. One difference being impactful entrepreneurial support.
“Buffalo has its advantages in that you have a clearly defined market space within which there are many entrepreneurial support services that communicate with each other and are eager to support you,” said Ulbrich. “This type of community may give you the advantage of having the opportunity to identify and work with experienced serial entrepreneurs, which is invaluable to a startup company.”