Kansas City's West Bottoms Shopping District: The Next National Antique and Vintage Shopping Sensation?
For local Kansas City shoppers, First Friday weekends in the West Bottoms are like a warm, friendly hug. Locals know that they can come by themselves, or with family members and friends, and have a wonderful time browsing, shopping, visiting, eating and taking a break from the everyday. As word about the wonderful deals to be had has spread, shoppers are coming from farther away, making Kansas City's West Bottoms district a destination antique and vintage shopping event.
It seems eons since one woman had the crazy (some called her a lunatic) idea to open a store in Kansas City's then decrepit West Bottoms warehouse district. Trish Moore's vision did not include any old store with run-of-the-mill merchandise. She created a space where customers could find one-of-a-kind, repurposed furniture and decor infused with, as Trish put it, 'good juju.' And so, Good Ju Ju was born. It was slow going at first. Original vendors fondly reminisce of days when they played solitaire or read magazines to pass the time between customers. That certainly isn't the case now.
Expanding on Good Ju Ju's success, other stores soon followed. Bottoms Up, Bella Patina, Restoration Emporium, Hickory Dickory, Nook & Cranny and scores more have joined Good Ju Ju in creating a truly wonderful weekend shopping experience in Kansas City’s West Bottoms area. National brands now realize the benefits of partnering with West Bottoms stores. Chip & Joanna Gaines' Magnolia Market recently joined with Restoration Emporium. West End Salvage recently created a popup space at Good Ju Ju. Vintage Whites Market's first Kansas City event was held on the 12th Street Bridge this summer and they had HGTV's Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond as a special guest at this event.
As the West Bottoms customer base grew, word of mouth spread. Interior designers now flock to the Bottoms with customers' wishes in mind, tape measures and Smart phone cameras at the ready. Every First Friday weekend you are sure to hear a couple talking about the very reasonable price on an item and wishing they hadn't already purchased a dining set/dresser/hutch somewhere else. And it's those reasonable prices on high quality furniture and decor that are beginning to draw antique and vintage dealers to the West Bottoms. Dealers from as far as Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Michigan, California and more are hauling empty trucks and trailers to the Bottoms, filling them to the tip top, and taking them back to their stores and markets. Imagine if you will. A dealer can spend gas and time to buy a trailer-full of merchandise here in Kansas City, return to their location, price the same merchandise, AND make enough of a profit for them to come back and do it again, and again, and AGAIN. Those are the kinds of bargains to be had at Good Ju Ju and other stores in the West Bottoms.
Adding to the shopping ambience, food venues have opened in many of the stores. Joined by food trucks lining the streets, the Kansas City West Bottoms shopping district wears a carnival atmosphere on the First Friday and Saturday of every month. The smell of hamburgers, BBQ, roast beef, tacos, vegetarian fare, kettle corn and more waft through the streets, accompanied by seasonal music (often provided by live musicians). Pickup trucks, SUVs and vans safely traverse the crowds, loading up their purchases to take home. Security keeps a watchful eye over the proceedings. All are safe -- all are welcome. Come on down and enjoy yourselves.
Good Ju Ju and the West Bottoms shopping district, as if a living thing, breathes positive energy and good will. A tiny 'Trish' seed, planted and lovingly tended, has grown into an event of which Kansas City can be proud.
Need a map to all of Kansas City's West Bottoms vintage and antique stores? Here you go! Roughly 30 stores open up on First Friday's weekends in Kansas City, just 1/2 mile West of Downtown KC.
By Mary Farley