Almost summer!! This is not one of my favorite seasons as the temp hits 90 today but that is what air conditioning is for. I say it every year, "I can't believe I have stayed in Kansas all my life with this heat". It gets hot here and being uncomfortable is not one of my favorite things, especially when opening a new store!!
Guilty again... of not writing this blog as much as I had promised. It's been a very busy couple of months. Maybe I will take the time now to explain what I have been up to.
Last November I did a Christmas show at Good Juju in the West Bottoms of Kansas City. For seven years now the abandoned warehouses in this downtown district have been reopened and rented by various dealers and a 'pop up' or once a month vintage shopping event emerged. Building after building was discovered, leases were signed, a little renovation, then antique, vintage, and junk dealers rented a booth. In the beginning it was only open the First Friday (Saturday and Sunday) of every month. Now a handful are open every weekend and some open Wednesday - Sunday. But for the most part it is still known as only open First Friday Weekend and this is when hoards of shoppers make their way through these shops to discover what's new.
As I set up and prepared my space during my Christmas show I fell in love with a few other dealers that were veterans at this First Friday thing. I could see their work ethic, humor, and fellowship trying to create something special for their little business. I also learned, although they may only sell once a month, their business was not so little and working to prepare it the other 27 days was on their mind constantly. I felt I found a long lost family. To this day we say, "Why do I feel we have known each other all our lives?!" It was as if we were separated at birth.
This story continues but it is long, with many details, stories and events. I really don't want to waste your time with the minutia, so here are the cliff notes:
- It was announced Good Juju was for sale in 2013, months before I walked through the doors.
- A handful of core dealers there said they had tried to buy it with no luck.
- After enjoying the experience of selling there and meeting these peeps, my wheels started to turn. I found a couple of good friends interested in buying it but they would only invest if I managed the business, which was fine with me because I knew this core group would help the process.
- I announced my interest to buy Juju but it never panned out much to the disappointment of many.
- The core group of Juju dealers decided to look elsewhere and found another warehouse to rent and start their own First Friday business. At this point, I was out financially but they showed an interest in me being involved creatively to help them build a brand for their new store and try to design it with a specific look.
- Months later, a business was formed, a name was chosen, a building was found and the mayhem began.
Since mid April I have been knee deep in helping Top Hat Mercantile get launched. The good news is Curious Sofa will also be reborn! I am not only helping with their design but I am a seller there too. Not one booth, but three!
1. Curious Sofa- as most of you remember.
2. I am also helping to curate and start the Top Hat Gift Shop
3. I am starting a new space called Tobacco Road in which I am tapping in to my manly side- selling vintage clothing (workwear, denim, western) along with rustic accessories (leather belts, bags and boots) and homegoods (trunks, baskets, rugs, lighting).
The direction of Top Hat began with the name they chose, the warehouse location, and mostly the desire to fine tune and execute a new vintage/urban/retail venue that we all felt would be a great addition to the West Bottoms.
My work began with the Top Hat website. I have to gloat a little here and say I designed it and built it all!! And I am no techy! Although I designed my own website, for some reason doing it for someone else was a huge mountain to climb for me. I had never done this before, certainly not with this urban look so I was very happy with the outcome. When the rest of the owners approved it- the overall look of the business was off and running.
Weeks later I prepared and presented a 110 page PowerPoint presentation to show the group the vision I had for their business. This included a logo design, brand colors, exterior makeover, entry design, store layout, unique departments created, signage, bags, counters, lighting, postcards, networking, etc..... once approved, the makeover began.
The building we moved into was a mess. Electrical was a little dangerous (Michael Renner tore it out and did it right), the walls were removed, patched and painted. The floor was a disaster! Weeks of patching, caulking, sanding, pulling nails, screws, leveling... ugh and 25 gallons of paint later we can finally walk on it.
Day after day, myself and others have been down there working endlessly preparing the space. During the day dozens of trips are made to the hardware store, ReStore, and salvage yards. Then we return to paint, drill, wire and weld into the wee hours or until we are starving. Late at night I come home to order items online, research the best place to find this or that then download pictures and post to Pinterest and Facebook to grow customers. Many of us are so tired, covered in cuts and bruises while our nails and hair are being neglected, good clothes are ruined by paint, and our homes a mess with nothing in the fridge and piles of product we need to take to the store because once the building is done, we have to do our spaces!!! So you can see where I have been.
And although we are exhausted to the bone the interior is finally coming together! The colors, art, signage and layout are what the design team had in mind and we are hoping it brings a smile and inspiration to all who enter. Please mark the date; OPEN JULY 4th!!
PLEASE FOLLOW THE PROGRESS HERE.