Stores with Stories: The Monocle

By Nancy J. Parisi

Published on

The Monocle owners, David Brugh and Michael Poczkalski

North Buffalo gained a bustling, welcoming, and visually arresting place to shop when Monocle opened in spring 2022. Home to three businesses under its roof, The Monocle focuses on home interiors, high-end design and artful embellishments for body and home.  

Room, the Crockett & Co. barbershop, and Michael P. Design all relocated from their longtime homes a few blocks east on Hertel Avenue to a former synagogue that’s been creatively renovated to house the business ventures of partners in business and life David Brugh and Michael Poczkalski.  

“We purchased the building in 2021 and began construction in August and completed in April of 2022,” says Poczkalski. “That was relatively fast, considering that it was completely gutted. There were no windows, no electricity – we were running everything off of generators until November of 2021.”  

The Monocle building is now painted a matte charcoal gray. What were the front steps are now a place for seasonal displays and a three-sided sunroom spotlighting fine furnishings replaces the upper steps and doors. There is a small parking lot to the right of the ground-level entrance. Artwork by local artists – always for sale – hangs in the vestibule, and throughout the building. Among the building’s 9,000 square feet are vignettes to inspire one’s home space or office: lighting, tabletop items, wallpaper, as well as a gorgeous inventory of furniture for which Room is renowned.  

“We took a very derelict building and made it a magical space that will always be evolving,” says Michael, adding “We are striving to do a lot of pop-ups and to make this a place of community.”   

The space features sumptuous experiential amenities: an Art Deco-inspired bar, a design book library of books for sale and others for perusing with a cozy seating near a gas fireplace. There’s also a café with tables and chairs that harmonizes with the bar area. 

The Monocle hosts seasonal markets, has outdoor seating in their alleyway, and art exhibitions (complete with opening receptions for the artists) happen monthly.  

“This is a big deal for us, it’s not a small investment,” Poczkalski says. “We are happy and proud of what we’ve made. We spend more time here than at home, and when you come in here, we want your shoulders to relax. It’s welcoming and each of the spaces has different vibes.”  

“We are outside all the time and have conversations all the time with our neighbors on this block of Hertel. Everyone has been very welcoming to us,” says Brugh.  

“We want to be community leaders,” Poczkalski says, “and preserve this shopping district. We’re creating The Monocle Foundation, that will be hosting events that raise money so that we can go into our community and assist and beautify other businesses, that’s our personal goal. 

“The Monocle will always be evolving,” he adds. “We will always feature the newest, most fun, and finest products. We want things to happen here. Come in, relax, shop, and forget about things. Enjoy the space.”

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The Monocle
1235 Hertel Avenue, Buffalo, NY

Nancy J. Parisi headshot

Nancy J. Parisi

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