Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Designing Kansas City

Recently my retail friend, Karen from Rochester, came to visit me on her way to the Atlanta market. We only had two days to hang out but I managed to cram it full by showing her the best of the best in eating and shopping here in Kansas City. I also had the August copy of Kansas City Home Design (KCHD) magazine which has a current story about me and the store.

(click on photos below to enlarge text)
Karen was blown away by this magazine and when I told her K.C. has about four other home design publications she was floored. She continued to be impressed by the size of Kansas City- from Blue Springs (home of American Idol David Cook), to Briarcliff (home of the new Nell Hills), downtown in the bohemian Crossroads (where Curious Sofa began), south to 119th (with our new West Elm and the incredible Apple store), Olathe (home of the soon to be crowned HGTV Next Design Star Jennifer Bertrand) and on to Prairie Village (that's me), Fairway, Brookside with lots of great Stuff; Crestwood Shops, 45th & State Line Antique Row, 39th Street, Westport and then ending our evening at the Classic Cup on our legendary Country Club Plaza. All of us in K.C. take these small neighborhood districts for granted as Karen wasn't the first to tell me she had nothing like this to choose from in her town. What this also shows is that for the small independent retailer, there are many tempting shopping districts to choose from if you want to open a store- and we have many great ones.

I have come to learn that outsiders think if the word 'Kansas' is in the title they think there are miles of flat prairie, cows and cornfields everywhere. Well sure, that's here but not inside the city! We are a widespread booming metropolis and although a little behind the style radar, we managed to finally get a Crate and Barrel, Dean & Deluca, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and so much more.

We are also a town for outstanding antique junkin'. We have great antique malls in every corner of the city and beyond. I haven't even listed here the great small towns less than 40 minutes out of the city limits for great weekend antiquing. (Parkville, Weston, Lexington, Greenwood, Topeka, St. Joe).

The staff told me recently that we had some retail visitors from St. Louis who were not finding anything to resell. Sorry! But you need a good guide to show you the best haunts. It is just like any city- you have to be shown around by someone who shops a lot and knows where everything is. The 'average' person does not know, nor does the hotel concierge or local cab driver!

Two years ago I cringed when I ran into the editorial staff from Country Living magazine at the High Point market. They said they were on their way to scout my home town and I was worried that 'just anyone' was going to show them around K.C.- so I jumped at the chance and when they arrived, I wore them ragged. As I was driving them to their hotel, at 11:30 on the last night of our scout, I said, "Wait! I forgot to show you 39th Street!" I drove past frantically through this neighborhood, talking a mile a minute, explaining this shop and that restaurant and Monica the travel editor looked dazed and confused at Frances Bailey (the features editor) and said dead pan to her, "You got that?" I knew my time was up!

Anyway, many of you write and say you have visited our town before or want to. My goal in the next year is to have a page on our website to show you where to stay, shop, junk, eat and so on. If ever there is a time to visit Curious Sofa it is during Halloween (premiers September 6) or Christmas (Open House November 8)- so plan ahead! Everything may not be 100% up to date in Kansas City, but- I will make it worth your while for a long weekend.

Note: A week ago, in the local newspaper this article ran:
Please email starmag@kcstar.com and tell them of your local favorites and why. (You can start with us if you like!)