A popular retail marketplace concept made in Kansas City is headed east — to the sixth-largest city in Missouri and a customer base eager to support local makers, said Thomas McIntyre.
“We want to keep growing our footprint, but only where it makes sense,” said McIntyre, co-founder of Made in KC, detailing the decision to replicate the Country Club Plaza’s successful Made in KC Marketplace in Lee’s Summit at the Summit Fair shopping center.
The new space — a 5,600-square-foot anchor location that previously housed a Coldwater Creek womens clothing store — is a natural fit for the brand, which fuses a boldly crisp and clean aesthetic with maker products full of color and character. (Goods range from artisan foods and local apparel brands to Kansas City-made wood and leather works.)
Click here to shop Made in KC.
On Thursday, McIntyre and co-owners Tyler Enders and Keith Bradley visited the new store for a walk-through of ongoing renovations. They expect to have the space ready and open to customers by early to mid-September.
“It’s laid out much more efficiently, so it doesn’t feel that much smaller [than the Plaza location],” McIntyre said. “When you’re inside, you see it has a very high ceiling, lots of big windows.”
Like the well-known Plaza spot that opened in July 2018, the Lee’s Summit marketplace will feature a collection of more than a dozen Kansas City makers who essentially operate stores within a store — though all products are barcoded by Made in KC and sold through a centralized point-of-sale system manned with Made in KC team members.
At least initially, 85 to 90 percent of the makers featured in the Lee’s Summit marketplace — from among more than 200 represented across Made in KC’s stores — will overlap with the Plaza location, McIntyre said.
“There’s not a whole lot of nerves about opening during a pandemic,” he said. “It just feels like a winning combination of location and the people involved.”
Lee’s Summit jumps out
The retail curator of Kansas City-made goods has grown in leaps since the mid-2010s, opening stores across the metro and tweaking its format with new additions to the Made in KC family. It now operates locations on the Plaza, at Briarcliff, Corinth Mall and Prairie Fire, as well as downtown at the original Made in KC Cafe.
A new location at Martini Corner in Midtown is set for a fall opening. Click here to read more about plans for Made in KC’s relocation to the site from its Crossroads headquarters.
“We’ve been a very north-south company so far — as people often are in Kansas City — focusing on that downtown-to-suburbs spread,” said McIntyre. “We’ve definitely intentionally started looking east-west in the past year for different opportunities. And as soon as you do that, Lee’s Summit just kind of jumps out at you.”
Among the factors drawing Made in KC to Lee’s Summit: a zip code that kept popping up in analyses of Plaza and online customers.
“Demographically, it’s a really good fit for our target market,” McIntyre said.
And Summit Fair adds its own benefits, he said, acknowledging he among the co-owners was originally the most reluctant to embrace a shopping center over a more standalone structure for the Lee’s Summit retail site.
“When you start drilling in, the center gets really good traffic right now, it has a great feel, and we have an ability to serve existing customers,” McIntyre said. “We also feel confident in our ability to drive traffic ourselves, so even if a customer is not already a Summit Fair shopper, we think we can draw them to the marketplace and help out other tenants in the surrounding area as well.”
Thirsty for an experience
In addition, the center lacks an existing coffee shop — a feature that has long been a passion for McIntyre, who was the force behind the hybrid retail-coffee concept that debuted at Made in KC’s downtown cafe in late 2018.
The new Lee’s Summit store is set to feature a coffee shop and bar area that is connected to the retail space, but removed enough to have an independent vibe, he said, noting the Plaza’s coffee option is perceived as a retail add-on, as opposed to a destination of its own.
“We hope to have more of a traditional coffee shop where people will want to come and hang out, work — not necessarily feel the need to shop [the retail space] while they’re with us,” McIntyre said, also emphasizing that a large walk-in refrigerator will boost the selection of beer on tap in the bar area. “The coffee shop and bar component will have their own sense of space with a big garage door that opens to a massive patio. The option to consume in that space will be much more inviting and offer more variety.”
Evolving and expanding Made in KC beyond its existing bounds was in the works before 2020 and the COVID-19 retail challenges that followed in the new year, he noted, expressing little reluctance to move forward with the new iterations in Lee’s Summit and at Martini Corner.
“We decided they were good deals beforehand and would be good deals after,” he said. “We’ll just try to get between those two points as smoothly as possible, but we’re still very excited about everything we have on our plate right now.”