Stores With Stories: Danahy’s

By Nancy J. Parisi

Published on | Last Updated

Danahy’s boutique sells fine, well-curated collections of women’s clothing lines, focusing on women-owned companies’ wares, exemplary quality goods, and attentive customer service. The shop, now in its third home, is located in Picadilly Plaza in Amherst on Sheridan Drive near North Bailey Avenue.

Now owned and operated by its third proprietor, Elizabeth Lennon, the store is celebrating a successful run of over 90 years. Lennon inherited the business from her aunt, Ruth Peachey, former President and CEO of Mabel Danahy, in 2012. Peachey had taken over the business from its founders in 1961. 

Danahy’s buyer, Patrica Seitz, and current owner, Elizabeth Lennon

The store’s buyer, Patricia Seitz, makes sure that casual and dressy options are covered in styles that are both classic and more on-trend. While the store is in retail forward momentum, there is deep reverence for the store’s rich history: the first store’s original wooden sign hangs in the store, near a display of vintage 1970s photos of Bill Blass creations when Miss Peachey hosted a charity fashion show for the Buffalo Philharmonic.

“When Pat buys,” Lennon says, “we try to really be unique so it’s more selection not depth, we tend to have only one of a size.” Seitz says her aim is to be different and unique and not carry lines spotted at other stores. One notable line carried is Bosom Buddies — handbags and accessories created with both local and ex-pat Buffalo women in mind with golden bison, and oversized 716’s festooning handbags and necklaces.

Danahy’s began as Mabel Danahy’s in 1925 at 443 Delaware Avenue (between Edward and Virginia Streets), the distinctive, historical, and elegant Art Deco building designed by Duane Lyman, now headquarters of Schneider Development and Architectural Services. Two sisters started the business and catered to the sartorial needs of the ladies of Buffalo’s upper crust: women arrived in limousines, their chauffeurs waiting outside as they shopped.

Photo of Danahy’s original co-founder, Mabel Danahy

The next home for Danahy’s was in Northtown Plaza on Sheridan Drive – for two decades – before their move to their current large, sunny storefront just down the street. Seasonal clothing is displayed by label and color, presented with complementary accessories for outfit inspirations. Crisscrossed radiating walls at the center of the store create a circular layout, alluring and moving customers through the space. 

“What you find here is service,” says Lennon. “We like to take care of our customers: we will be whatever anybody wants. Some come in and know what they want – all they really need us for is to cash them out; then there’s the other extreme and we help customers put outfits together, acting as personal shoppers or stylists. We’ll keep tabs on if she loves Eileen Fisher, for example, and let her know when a new grouping comes in.

“We will also let her know if we get in an item in a color that she loves – we always want to be helpful. We offer alterations on the premises: they can buy something here and don’t have to run around to get it altered and that closes a sale so many times. Most of our customers like that we offer alterations, as all women know it’s rare to put something on and have it fit perfectly – we can fit you where you need it.” 

Seitz has a “story with the store.” She was hired by Miss Peachey “to do her windows downtown, and I’m self-taught. Miss Peachey did a fashion show at the church I was going to and she asked afterward who did the decorations for the event. They gave her my name and she later called me and asked me to work for her. I said ‘I don’t know how to do windows’ and she said ‘If you can transform that gym the way you did, you can do windows.'” 

Seitz took a hiatus for several years raising her kids, moving out of town, before returning to work for Miss Peachey, finding that she couldn’t say no to her former boss, especially after she was told that she was in her prayer journal and “she had been praying me back into the store for years.”

“We just want to help our customers with fashion, to enjoy it,” says Lennon. “We are very honest with everyone — we are not doing ourselves any service if you don’t look your best when you have our label on. We want our customers to look great whether they’re going to their kid’s wedding, giving a business presentation, or conducting a Zoom meeting.”

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Danahy’s / 3206 Sheridan Drive, Amherst / (716)831-0773 / Facebook / Instagram

Nancy J. Parisi headshot

Nancy J. Parisi

Nancy is a social documentation photographer based in Buffalo, NY.