In our 5 Shops series, we’ll point you in the direction of our favorite independent shops across some of the world's best cities. From food markets to bookshops, vintage and homegrown design, we've found a diverse and exciting mix of local retailers where you can pick up one-of-a-kind pieces.
Perhaps it was Jason Sudeikis’ portrayal of Ted Lasso that put my beloved hometown on your radar. Or when Taylor Swift made a surprise appearance in a box at the Kansas City Chiefs football game. Or rumors A$AP Rocky is shooting his newest video in the West Bottoms.
Whatever the reason, Kansas City – the City of Fountains, the Heart of America, the Paris of the Plains – will surpass your expectations. It’s a place where sports, museums, art, music, and great food reign equally. Whatever your interest, you’ll find it in KC.
If there is one thing you should know about my hometown, it’s how proud people from Kansas City are of being from Kansas City. They vigorously support all things local – not just businesses, but native sons and daughters, as well as anyone who develops a tender spot in their heart for the city.
Civic pride is so strong that you’ll notice locals wearing t-shirts dedicated to the city. (If you look in the first episode of Ted Lasso, you’ll see KC native Sudeikis sporting the Three KC Joearthur Gatestack shirt.)
So it’s no surprise that there’s no shortage of great spots to do some local shopping. Here are some of my picks.
Best for souvenirs: Westside Storey
Located in Kansas City's Westside, here you'll find a range of clever souvenir options including hats, pins and candles however, most people visit the charming store for its range of new and vintage Kansas City tees.
You'll find a ton of locally made options dedicated to Kansas City civic pride as well as its array of sports teams. This is also one of the spots where you can find the locally beloved Charlie Hustle KC heart shirt, which you'll see sported by locals all around town.
Best for local design: Dear Society
Located in the artsy Crossroads district, Dear Society was founded in 2015. Here, building a sustainable wardrobe is top of mind and you’ll find a blend of both new, contemporary pieces and vintage ones, sure to give you that perfect statement piece for your wardrobe. (You can also find a collection of small gifts like candles and stationery if you are looking for something smaller to take home.)
Owner Chancel Jezek says on the shop’s website that she “wants to shine a light on female designers and entrepreneurs while curating a minimal yet timeless collection that will be relevant in your closet for years to come.” For instance, right now you'll find the sustainable fashion line Cvet Préri and artwork of locally-based ceramic artist Katherine Moes on display in the store.
By the way, if you're looking for help building a sustainable wardrobe, you can also purchase styling sessions to help you both style the pieces you have or pick out ones to complement your wardrobe.
Best for vintage/thrift: the West Bottoms
The West Bottoms has recently made headlines as the setting for A$AP Rocky’s new music video there and rumors that Travis Kelce might have been shopping for someone special at Fetch KC. But in the historic area surrounding the 12th Street Bridge, you’ll find blocks of charming antique shops like Vintage Posch and Bella Pantina. Several have multiple stories of nooks and crannies to explore, with so much inventory that things can feel overwhelming. Be sure to pace yourself and call ahead, as stores have staggered hours. Typically, they’re all open at the same time for First Friday (the first weekend of the month).
Come here in the weeks leading up to Halloween to enjoy several of old buildings that become multi-level haunted houses that will give you both fun and fright.
Best for food: French Market
Take a short drive across the state line into Kansas to nearby Prairie Village to visit French Market. Owned by the Quillec family, the market is the more casual sister to the family's upscale and acclaimed restaurant Café Provence (located conveniently around the corner).
The market features a café with a great patio where you can savor French food, pastries and wine while in while the market portion, you'll find grab-and-go meals and treats as well as French imports, premium home goods, vintage items, cookbooks, and local KC foodie favorites.
Best for books: Afterword
Literature lovers know that there’s no better combination than a cocktail and a spirited discussion of a great book. Here, you can find both. Located in the Crossroads Arts District, Afterword is a buzzing bar-slash-bookstore offering craft cocktails, mocktails, wine and beer – as well as shelves of titles by both nationally acclaimed and local authors.