Editor’s note: Startland News explored Made in KC’s new marketplace at Lenexa City Center in Johnson County as part of the newsroom’s five-part holiday gift guide that highlights locally owned shops and the makers within them. The items identified here were curated by Kendall Kloster, manager at Made in KC Lenexa, and Startland News. Featured stores, makers and products were not asked to pay to be included in this series. Click here to follow along with the multi-day gift guide as it develops.
Opening its doors ahead of Black Friday and the holiday rush, Made in KC’s new marketplace in Lenexa is packed like a wall-to-wall pantry of gifts and goods from Kansas City designers and makers, said Kendall Kloster, but the focus isn’t just on products.
“The whole goal of the marketplace is the experience, so literally our mission is for you to have so much fun when you come into the space,” said Kloster, manager of the Lenexa store, which rang its first sale Tuesday morning. “That leads to a lot of freedom for us — the freedom to genuinely want people to enjoy themselves, not just buy something and get out the door. We get to break a lot of rules in the sense of traditional retail norms.”
The newly opened retail spot — an anchor within the Lenexa City Center development — is the latest marketplace from the Made in KC brand, which operates similar stores on the Country Club Plaza and in Lee’s Summit, as well as a growing string of neighborhood shops and cafes across the metro.
It’s also the first marketplace that began as a blank slate, Kloster said, noting the project started with gravel floors and no interior walls, in contrast to other locations where Made in KC moved into previously occupied storefronts.
“It’s just us. No ghosts here,” she joked.
Click here to read more about Made in KC’s decision to join Lenexa City’s Center’s bustling The District.
Lenexa’s 8,166-square-foot space is split evenly between retail and a soon-to-debut area that features a cafe, ice cream, bar, and three shuffleboard lanes.
“These are the first shuffleboard lanes under the Made in KC umbrella to open, so soon we’ll see if people are as excited about it as we are,” Kloster said, referencing expected foot traffic between the attraction and the popular Lenexa Public Market across the street. “It’s something unique — any age can play; you can drink a beer with your buddies while you’re shuffleboarding, or you can have your 10-year-old’s birthday party.”
Another shuffleboard concept, Ludo’s, is set to open at Made in KC’s Midtown location, which already features a retail shop and the Black Pantry storefront, as well as a soon-to-launch cafe of its own.
Made in KC offers Kloster a chance to promote authentic connections between the brand, makers and shoppers, she emphasized.
“Certain people were born for retail — where the chaos is super satisfying,” Kloster said. “And it’s absolutely more fun during the holiday season when there is a constant rush of people, of serotonin and insanity. But it feels like a good time. It’s not Black Friday shopping at Walmart or Target.”
“Shopping should be a really good time. It’s not a chore. It’s not this boring, un-fun thing to get done or just checked off your list,” she continued. “I’m excited to be on the other end of it saying to people, ‘This is so sick! I’m so glad you’re taking this home!’ and genuinely mean it.”
The new store — with its 21 vendor booths and shelves lined with a wide array of food and beverage items, wine and liquor (coming soon), candles, sundries and gifts — offers a mix of best-sellers and the unexpected. Along with staples like KC Heart shirts from Charlie Hustle, chocolates from Christopher Elbow, and high-quality, locally made caps from Sandlot Goods, expect to find items in Lenexa that you never knew you needed, Kloster said.
“One maker who’s never had a booth with us is Mariah Danielle with Cleary Lane. She’s going to crush it,” Kloster said, detailing one of the first displays shoppers will see when they enter the store. “She has these really cool Kansas City wood cut earrings and has just ventured into the world of acrylic jewelry too. Her brand is getting a lot more youthful, and it’s fun to see her evolve.”
Five (more) unexpected finds at Made in KC Lenexa
Shower steamers by Bear Soap Company — $6
Dial up your shower experience with these quick-sellers from Bear Soap Company, the popular bathtime brand from Mid Coast Modern’s Matt Bramlette. Shower steamers come as singles ($6), as well as in a $15 three-pack hitting shelves now. (Keep an eye out for a new line of $8 “Toilet Bombs” — an alternative to room spray — from Bear Soap.)
Available in store. Click here to shop Bear Soap Company with Made in KC.
KC Drip Tee by We Got Your Back Apparel — $32
A brand with bright pops of color and nods to Kansas City, this local line makes its Made in KC debut with the Lenexa store.
Available in store. Click here to learn more about We Got Your Back Apparel.
The Original Catchball by Sandlot Goods — $42
A limited-edition product from Sandlot Goods, The Original Catchball is a made-in-Kansas City, glove-free gift you can catch with your hands!
Available in store only.
Creamed Honey Gift Tube By Messner Bee Farm — $25
Beyond delicious, there isn’t a bad flavor in the bunch! The gift tube is one of Messner Bee Farm’s newer items, but is a ready-made stocking stuffer.
Available in store. Click here to shop Messner Bee Farm at Made in KC.
Farm Boy Fragrance Potpourri Jars — $25
Farm Boy makes potpourri cool again. With scents like “pumpkin cheesecake,” “apple cinnamon,” and “pinecone medley,” you pick the season and your whole house will fill with cheer.
Available in store. Click here to shop Farm Boy Fragrance.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.