Professional and Business Women of Polonia Website. All Rights Reserved

The Professional & Business Women of Polonia, also known as PBW, was created to enhance the status and image of

Polish-American professional  and business women, to network, and to become a force in the community.



Christine Kibler

Vice President
Mary Jane Wajmer


Theresa Tucholski

President Ex Officio
Renee Harzewski

Executive Board
Mary Domanski

Diana Marciniak
Pat Greiner

Professional & Business

Women of Polonia’s

Current Officers

Barbara Wetzel


Theresa Tucholski

President Ex Officio
Renee Harzewski

Executive Board
Mary Domanski

JoAnn Lewandowski
Pat Greiner

by Dawn Myszka,

PBW Historian

The Professional & Business Women of Polonia (PBW) had its November membership dinner on Nov. 7, 2018 at The Columns Banquets in Elma. Sr. Mary Johnice Rzadkiewicz thanked everyone for their holiday donations to the Response to Love Center. She then gave the dinner prayer.

The speaker for the evening was Debra Hall-Stonish from Explore Buffalo. Explore Buffalo is a non-profit organization with 220 volunteers, half of whom are docents, who research and write their own tours of the history, architecture and historic neighborhoods of Buffalo. Explore Buffalo offers walking tours, biking tours, kayaking tours and tours on the Miss Buffalo boat. Debra announced that Explore Buffalo just completed its 5th year anniversary.

The most popular tour is the West Side mob tour. About three years ago, Explore Buffalo instituted a series called "History Talks." As part of this series, Debra put together a presentation on shopping in downtown Buffalo during Christmastime.

Debra is a life-long resident of Buffalo where she lives with her husband. She holds a BA and an MBA from SUNY at Buffalo. Her career revolved along finance and business where she held positions as vice president at Marine Midland and M&T banks, president of her family's construction company, and CFO for a religious order. Debra also taught at her alma mater, UB, for 7 years as well as in the entrepreneurship program at UB for 5 years. She is now retired and can pursue her interests in traveling and giving tours. She is an enthusiastic promoter of Buffalo and proud to see its renaissance.

Debra took PBW members on a tour down memory lane of her Christmas shopping experiences in downtown Buffalo with her mother in the 1960s at some of the legendary Buffalo department stores. She showed us photographs of old retail ads and downtown Buffalo back in the day with crowds of people shopping. Back then, downtown was where the major department stores were located.

She started our journey talking about AM&A’s. It was one of the top retailers in downtown Buffalo with the largest store frontage. They had a toy department that was only there during Christmas time. She and her mother would eat at the Yankee Doodle Room and then go shopping at the store.

The Christmas window displays at AM&A's were the big treats for children to see. Who can forget those? This tradition began in the 1930s. AM&A's would put brown paper over their storefront windows which would not be removed until after Thanksgiving so as not to spoil the surprise. Many of the displays were animated. When viewing the displays, people would form a line outside the store and stroll down the widow fronts.

In 1994, AM&A's was sold to the Bon-Ton. In 1995, the downtown store closed. Some of the Christmas displays ended up at Lancaster Village while others made their way to the theater district and the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

The second biggest retailer was Hengerer's. They were the very first store to close on Memorial Day and Labor Day recognizing those days as Federal holidays. By 1897, they were the largest department store between NYC and Chicago. Hengerer's was famous for their ladies hat boxes.

L.L. Berger's catered to the more affluent shopper. Their clerks wore dresses, pearls and high heels. They were also known for their hat boxes. The L.L. Berger's building is still standing today on Main Street.

Hens & Kelly's, whose motto was "good merchandise at the lowest prices," had the infamous S&H green stamps. When you gathered enough green stamps, you could turn them in for various merchandise at the store.

Remember Brand Names catalog showroom? You would go to their store, look through their catalog, fill out your order on a sheet with a small #2 pencil, place your order in a slot, a clerk would remove the sheet, go into the backroom and come out with your merchandise selection.

PBW members contributed stories of other stores they remembered shopping at, such as The Sample, Sattler's, Niesner's, Kobacher's, Gutman's, Dixie Hat Shoppe, Stride Rite Shoes, Hills, Two Guys and Twin Fair, to name a few. Those were the days.

The next PBW meeting will be held on Jan. 23 at Potts Restaurant. The speaker for that evening will be author Lissa Marie Redmond, a former Buffalo Police detective for over 20 years who worked on the Buffalo bike path rapist case.

Christmas shopping in downtown Buffalo past