In the middle of downtown Scottsdale stands Buffalo Collection, a furniture and accessories store offering finely handcrafted pieces made of American buffalo leather. It’s where the old American West meets today’s luxury, and people travel from all over the world to view the pieces and make purchases for their own abodes. Owners Michael and Laura Levenberg share their story.
How did you become involved with a buffalo ranch and a furniture-making business?
Well, an incredible woman acquired an overgrazed ranch in western Colorado more than 25 years ago. In order to return the land to its native grasses, she introduced a herd of 300 bison. It worked so well, in fact, that the heard grew larger than the land could support. So, they were culled and a local bison meat business was started. Not wanting the hides to go to waste, the hides were tanned, and she began to store them.
A few years later, one of the guests at the ranch was a third- or fourth-generation furniture builder. A collaboration began whereby handcrafted, heirloom-quality furniture was built here in America the old-fashioned way, with the highest quality, and then upholstered with the bison leather from the ranch. The sofas, chairs, ottomans, benches, beds and pillows began to furnish the main lodge and guest rooms.
As people visited, they asked about the furniture. They often inquired how they could buy something for their home. This was the beginning of Buffalo Collection.
As the business began to grow, a showroom was opened in Aspen, run by Laura and a friend. We both became so interested in the story that we proposed to open a showroom in Old Town Scottsdale, which we did at the end of 2011. The founder retired in 2014 and we purchased the business, continuing everything that had been accomplished.
Who tends the ranch in Colorado? And who are your furniture artisans?
The ranch is still there, but was handed down to her daughter, son-in-law and grandkids. Many of our artists and craftsmen/women have been with us from the very beginning, of which we are very proud. We are very passionate about the fact that each piece is handcrafted in the United States. This personal touch, along with the stories, creates an interesting and unique shopping experience for clients.
Your Scottsdale showroom is visited by lots of travelers.
We have the pleasure of meeting thousands of people each year from all over the world, many from Canada, and of course, throughout America. That in and of itself is fascinating. We have worked with famous athletes, leaders in business, judges, rock stars, authors and people from all walks of life.
What are some of the current places of honor for Buffalo Collection furniture?
We have done some very interesting projects over the years, one of which was The Ritz-Carlton in Aspen, Colo. We did our now-famous “Ritz” King Size sleeper sofa for about 75 of its suites, in addition to chairs, sofas and tables for the lobbies.
Also, we have a life-size taxidermy buffalo, and when we heard about Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West opening in downtown Scottsdale, we wanted to meet the folks and offer our buffalo to have on display, since what could be more American West than a buffalo? They welcomed the idea and the buffalo has been there since. They tell us that he is the most photographed object in the museum.