No, it wasn’t the play Fiddler on the Roof that I saw this past weekend; it was a three metre (10 foot), statue of 83 year old Ed Vidler sitting atop the roof of the Vidler’s 5 & 10 store (www.vidlers5and10.com or 1-877-843-5377) in East Aurora, N.Y.
You see, Ed Vidler, who retired a few years ago, operated with his brother Bob, this iconic East Aurora landmark. Ed’s daughter Bev Vidler, who with her brother Donald now operate the store said, “My father thought it would be a great way to capitalize on business since many customers would quip to him that they didn’t see him on the roof today”. Well, he’s there now, at least 226 kilograms (500 pounds) of him in clay with his feet dangling over the rooftop, waving his right hand in the air.
One of the first things that will strike you when you visit this village of 6,000 only 25 minutes from the Niagara /Buffalo border is the wide red brick road of Main St. with street lights that look like gas-lamps and where parking is free (one of the secrets to a vibrant down-town). Then your eyes are drawn to Vidler on the roof. Entering Vidler’s is quite an experience. This is an old fashioned five and dime but so much more.
Vidler’s opened for business in the midst of the Great Depression in a 1930 building that was already 40 years old, and it’s still going strong. So much for the nay-sayers that said it wouldn’t last a year.
It has expanded several times and now has two levels occupying four connected 19th century buildings carrying over 20,000 items. As you walk down original uneven well-worn wooden floors you’ll find items from yester year. Mind you, the prices aren’t from that era but the nostalgia is vintage.
There was silly putty, Slinky’s, and a variety of candy like Turkish Taffy and Dubble Bubble. There were plenty of things from my Mom’s kitchen such as tin cookie cutters, wood and rubber spatulas and glass topped percolators.
Vidler’s even has an old tired looking mechanical horse, called Sandy that the kids ride for a dime.
Years ago when I visited the store I remember Ed Vidler telling me, “Nostalgia might bring the customers in but we change with the times. We don’t sell buggy whips any more”. True, but they still sell Daniel Boone Coon skin caps!
After Vidler’s had whet my appetite for things of yester year, I continued walking this lovely main street and discovered the restored 650 seat Aurora Theatre (www.theauroratheatre.com or 1-716 652-1660) circa 1925.Current movies are now shown. Adults cost $7 and seniors and students $5.50.
Next door (you’ll probably smell it before you see it) is sleek and sexy Fowler’s Fine Chocolates (www.fowlerschocolates.com).
They’ve been in operation since 1910. If you step inside you won’t be able to leave without something under your arm.
More interesting stores to explore on the main street are, Head Over Heels. You might need to wear your sunglasses when you step inside this funky colourful not-like-any-other shoe store you’ll ever find.
Prima Oliva is another find. This is a classy place specializing in Olive Oils and vinegars from all over the world. A six pack of 60 ml bottles can be customized. I chose three oils and three matched vinegars for $24.75. It will make a nice Christmas gift.
When you drag yourself away from downtown, head towards the Roycroft Inn ( www.roycroftinn.com or 1-877-652-5552) which has been, “opened to friends since 1905”. It was established by Elbert Hubbard, an artist, writer, publisher and craftsman. The lobby is filled with a simple straight – line mission style furniture. Check out the beautiful carved oversize oak entrance door. Things aren’t cheap, but if you want to pamper yourself this is the place to put your head for the evening.
Where to Eat
Downtown offers a nice selection of places to eat with different price ranges. We choose a new place in town simply called Taste (www.tasteofeastaurora.com) for lunch. When we entered it had the feel of an oversized Starbucks. This turned out to be a fun low-key leisurely place with no attitude and all the entrees were under $10. We’ll go back there again.
For More Information
East Aurora Chamber of Commerce at www.eanycc.com or 1-716-652-8444.
How to get There
From the Niagara/Buffalo border at the Peace Bridge take I90 West towards Erie and take the 400/16 exit to East Aurora. GPS users punch in 676 Main Street, East Aurora.