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New Beginnings on Main Street

Written by Jane Trabert Schmitt
Imagery by Sandra Kicman

The grand opening last fall of Furnishings Gift Home & You in downtown Buffalo was a dream come true for Joseph Incao, who left town decades ago to see the world but eventually came home to roost.

His new store at 500 Main Street, casual yet sophisticated, is a reflection of a life well-lived in big cities like New York and exotic locales such as Hawaii, where he managed five retail stores for Italian design house Prada.
    “This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and it finally came to fruition. I’m very excited to nurture this,” explained Incao, who sports a neatly-trimmed beard and a warm smile. “I designed every nook and cranny of the store and picked every single piece of product in here. I filled it with things that I really like.”
    Things are happening in the Buffalo area, thanks to an on-the-rebound economy and a downtown reawakening, including the 500 block of Main Street. Once a bustling shopping district with fine retailers such as the L.L. Berger department store, it lost its luster and became stagnant. Now, business owners such as Incao are sharing in the rebirth.
    “I did a lot of research before I landed this location,” he said. “It fit my aesthetic, my expectation.” He designed the store as something customers can “experience,” not simply visit, with lots of layers just waiting for them to explore. Neutral walls and industrial
style steel shelving are warmed by a rich wood ceiling. Oriental rugs, atop the sleek gray tile floor, mix the modern with traditional. Music plays in the background.
    “There’s an Asian influence in the store. We love both Chinese and Japanese art and architecture. Then there’s a mid-century vibe that is part of the mix. And there’s a bit of industrial thrown in. It’s a hodge-podge of ideas but they all come together. I think they really hum,” he said.
    The home accessories on display at Furnishings are key to creating inviting, personalized space, says Incao, whose resume includes high-level positions with luxury retail brands such as Ferragamo and Alfred Dunhill.  At Prada, he was Senior Vice President of Operations for its U.S. stores.
    “I have a very eclectic idea of what is décor. A European sensibility, in a way,”  he explains.  “I don’t like… cookie-cutter perfect.  I like seeing things that have a bit of layer and texture and maybe are juxtaposed to one another and aren’t necessarily expected pieces. When you walk into Furnishings, I think that is immediately apparent, from the materials the store is constructed out of to the materials of the products we sell.” 

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