Kerstin Block is President and Co-owner of Buffalo Exchange, one of the few national companies headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. She started Buffalo Exchange in 1974 in Tucson with her husband, Spencer Block. Kerstin and her daughter Rebecca still own and run Buffalo Exchange out of their Headquarters in Tucson.
Honors & Achievements
Kerstin served as a trustee at the Arizona Sonora-Desert Museum for seven years, the last two as chair of the board. She unveiled the new Spencer Block Memorial Scholarship for Achievement in Retail Entrepreneurship at the University of Arizona’s Terry J. Lundgren Center on April 7, 2011.
Ernst & Young LLP named Kerstin as a 2009 Regional Entrepreneur of the Year in the Retail/Consumer Products category. At the time, Kerstin was the only female recipient of this award and the only Tucson business owner out of seven winners in the Orange County/Desert Cities region.
Leading the Resale Fashion Industry
Kerstin Block has successfully transformed the retail apparel marketplace by pioneering the resale fashion industry. Buffalo Exchange was the very first store that bought, sold and traded clothing items and accessories. When the store opened in 1974 in Tucson, resale shopping carried a stigma. By selecting only quality, fashionable items and reselling them at fair prices in a clean, fun atmosphere, Kerstin Block led the reversal of this trend.
On a Greyhound Bus to Tucson, Arizona
Kerstin grew up in Sweden and came to the University of Arizona on a scholarship in 1960, travelling solo on a boat to New York and then via Greyhound bus to Tucson. She loved thrift stores and swap meets. When she failed typing and shorthand classes at Pima Community College and her job in furniture display wasn’t panning out, she realized it was time to forge her own path.
Kerstin decided to open a unique kind of clothing store where people could buy, sell and trade used clothing. Expansion was the last thing on her mind until, one day, about a year after the store opened, she and Spencer looked around and realized that they had no room to put anything. That was the beginning of a growth pattern that still continues.
“If you really want to be successful,” says Kerstin Block, “you can’t just do the expected – you have to follow your ideas, your passion and venture outside your comfort zone. Don’t let fear paralyze or overwhelm you. If you do what you love, you can be successful.”