YOU GUYS. I have a new obsession.
Justin and I have been wanting to take a weekend trip with the kids — our first ever family vacation — and my niece, Alex, is doing an internship in Kansas City, which is a quick three-and-a-half hour trip away from us, so it seemed logical to make KC our first destination. I wasn’t particularly excited about it; prior to going, I hadn’t read much about the city, but I did know it had some kind of antique mall district that opened up on the first weekend of every month, so I figured the first weekend in July was a safe bet to schedule our trip. Once I started researching the West Bottoms Antique District, I started getting ridiculously excited…and had to repeatedly remind myself that this was a trip for the FAMILY, not a trip for ME. Dadgummit.
West Bottoms is the warehouse district located to the west of the city — once home to thriving stockyard businesses that were shut down long ago. For a long time, it was a forgotten part of town, active only during Halloween, when some of the warehouses were used for haunted houses. In the past five or ten years, its renaissance as a major center of antique stores and flea markets has continued to flourish, and right now there are 30+ different stores open on the first weekend of each month — and some of those are starting to open every weekend.
We pulled into town on Friday, at about 3 pm, checked into our hotel (more on that later), and had a quick, late lunch (more on that later as well!). Then we zoomed over to West Bottoms to see what we could find. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I had put together two scavenger hunt lists to try and coerce the kids into being willing participants of this shopping trip…they were met with mixed results. First of all, if it weren’t for my endlessly patient husband, they wouldn’t have been useful at all, because they needed a lot of guidance (and of course they needed supervision to make sure their zeal for finding items on the list didn’t lead them to knock fragile things over). It is a miracle that I have such a patient husband because the second I stepped out of the car, all of my focus and attention was on the shopping: we parked in a paid parking lot by The Red Shed, and it was just awesome vintage treasures as far as the eye could see — right out of the gate. (By the way, I happily paid $10 for parking, because I had no idea where I was going and I needed to get to shopping ASAP. When I went back on Saturday and Sunday, I was already familiar enough with the geography that I easily found street parking and didn’t pay a second time). Classic country and western tunes were piped into the streets and there are apparently no open container laws, as most stores were handing out free wine and beer and happy customers were roaming from store to store with cups in hand. PEOPLE, it was heaven. There was a huge variety of price points: some treasures to be found for not a lot of money (on the whole, I found the furniture to be outrageously affordable) and some treasures to be found, priced as TREASURES. I would not say that there was a lot of opportunity for purchasing things for re-sale (except for the furniture — some of it was so reasonably priced, I probably could have flipped it for a profit if it weren’t such a pain to get it home). If you’re going to look for your own collection, though, you will be in heaven.
I took a TON of photos, of course, but neglected to institute a system by which I would remember which photos were from which store. The best I can do is give you a list of the stores that I liked the most (keeping in mind that I didn’t hit them all).
- Bella Patina was definitely one of my favorites and the only one I returned to twice (once on Friday and once on Sunday). Three floors, multiple vendors, mostly very good prices, and well-curated booths.
- Top Hat was GORGEOUS and so different — it was the type of flea market set-up where different vendors were in each booth, but there was a shared aesthetic that was very different from the other stores. Spent a lot of time looking around in there (and don’t miss their basement, which has a ton of supply-type of stuff for those of us who are on the crafty side).
- Good Juju is full of color and fun. Great store.
- Stuffology is a FANTASTIC resource for Art Deco-era lighting. I saw some STUNNING fixtures in here, reasonably priced, and the man who owns it could not be nicer.
- Speaking of nice men, the guy running The Red Shed was lovely and could not have been friendlier, even after he saw the two five-year-olds trailing behind me. His store is chock full of treasures and the kind of store you get to dig into, which are my favorite kinds of stores! His furniture prices were AMAZING. There were several pieces I totally would have snatched right up if we only had had a way to get them back home.
- Nook and Cranny is three (maybe four?) floors of awesomeness. Lots of different vendors, lots of different merchandise and price points.
- There were two sides to Bottoms Up (I think), and one side (the right, as you’re facing the front door) is much more conventional antique mall than the left, which I found to be more interesting. Definitely worth a trip in.
- Hello Sailor was GORGEOUS and INTERESTING and…EXPENSIVE. Too rich for my blood, but I would definitely recommend going in to see what you can find.
Some of these I will be able to identify…this was taken outside of The Red Shed.
Still Red Shed.
This was the BEST worktable — metal, with a great patina. $85!
This spinner was chock full of little treasures.
This is The One That Got Away for this trip. I should have bought it. I love everything about it. So unusual.
These next few are from Nook and Cranny, I think.
Oh, man, I wanted this so badly. Not sure why I didn’t get it. It could have so many uses and if I remember correctly, wasn’t priced that expensively.
Another thing I almost bought…I just couldn’t justify another tchotchke purchase when I have NO shelf room left.
Loved the patterned paper they used on this little dresser.
This little tricycle would have been ideal for photo shoots!
Oooooh if I could only have this I am CERTAIN I would be totally organized for the rest of my life!
So many pretty light fixtures there.
This was from Good Juju. What a fun store. Really happy vibe. Good prices, too, for the most part (there are a variety of different vendors and price points there).
I think the horse/globe photo was from Hello Sailor. That globe was 5 or 6 feet across!
Loved this original art…it may have been in Top Hat? Maybe? Not sure.
The best blue velvet couch EVVVVVVEEEERRRRRR. Seriously thinking of changing my blog name to “The Velvet Couch” and JUST posting pics of vintage velvet couches.
I’m telling you, KC is the PLACE TO GO if you need vintage lighting. All of the chandeliers I saw (and there were many) were VERY reasonably priced. I think this one was around $125, maybe?
Soooooo many metal vintage file drawers. And we ALL KNOW how much I love those.
Here, have some baby doll heads.
These last three pictures were from, I think, the left-hand side of Bottoms Up.
I found Little Red Riding Hood’s dress!
This is from Bella Patina, I believe. One of my favorite stores.
Oh my golly gee. These photos do not even begin to capture the magic that I saw. I have really, truly, never seen so much gorgeous vintage all in one place. Well, maybe at Round Top? If you have a chance to go to KC, fellow junk lovers, TAKE IT.
Of course, as I wasn’t the only person on this trip, we couldn’t stay down in West Bottoms for three solid days (UNFORTUNATELY). Which leads me to my next section…
For the Kids.
The big draw for our kids was going to be Legoland, where they’ve wanted to go for over a year now. Of course, they’ve seen lots of pictures of the Legoland in CA, which is a true theme park, but when they found out KC was closer, they started asking to go to that. They were THRILLED with their experience there, I’ll say that, though Mom and Dad were less so. It was expensive, to start out with: around $100 for all of us to go. It’s all indoors, and close quarters, at that, with what seemed like MILLIONS of kids and their parents all crammed in. It smelled like dirty socks. The two “rides” they have took forever to wait in line for and were underwhelming. It was kind of like a souped-up McDonald’s Playland, if you ask me, and I was thrilled that the kids enjoyed it but less thrilled with how much bang for our buck we received. Our plan was to go Saturday morning, which was foolhardy of us, given the holiday and the fact that it was raining cats and dogs and it was one of the only indoor attractions in the area. We arrived to a line winding around the building and waited (me, grumpily, I will admit, because all I could think about was FLEA MARKETING) for about fifteen minutes until an employee came out and told us that 1. we were in the wrong line (in line for the aquarium instead) and 2. Legoland was sold out until 3:15. Harumph. So my first bit of advice for you is to order your tickets online (it’s a timed entry).
While we were trying to figure out how to while away the time, we realized that Kaleidoscope, Hallmark’s free art studio, was in the same complex and we popped over and got four tickets for the next entry, which was about twenty minutes away. Then we shopped around in the Crown Center, a an oddly engaging mall with all-Hallmark store merchandise. I would give Kaleidoscope a thumb’s up, though on a holiday weekend, it was terribly loud and crowded. There are a variety of different art stations in which the kids can use all kinds of paper and markers to create masterpieces — the highlight is the black light room where glow in the dark markers are employed. The fact that it’s free was a big selling point as well.
All the Nom Nom Noms.
Holy Tamales, we had the BEST food in KC. When we first got there, we got some appertizer-y things at Seasons 52 in the shopping center across from our mall — delicious. We kind of touristed out and ate at Jack Stacks for our BBQ meal, instead of going to any of the older, more authentic spots (Gates or Arthur Bryant’s) but it was right across from our hotel on Friday night, we were tired, and it was DELICIOUS. Like, food coma delicious. I ate to the point of discomfort, which is never advisable but sometimes unavoidable. Breakfast on Saturday morning was a major disappointment — we ended up at an IHOP because were were kind of in an out-of-the-way place due to an estate sale detour I insisted we take (AHEM) and the kids were behaving atrociously that morning and we sat next to a person conducting a job interview which made me SO NERVOUS. For lunch on Saturday we ate at the hotel restaurant, Chaz On the Plaza, which was far too fancy for the likes of us yet they were still just as kind and sweet as they could be and the food was delicious. They had these little rooms for just one table that they put us in, so I didn’t feel so terrible about the way my children were behaving (they were continuing their reign of terror they started in the morning). And dinner was probably the highlight — Chez Elle. This is a charming, unassuming place where you place your order at the counter. It’s tucked back in a residential area (across the street from Bluebird Bistro, which was also on my list but which we did not make it to) and it is quite possibly one of the tastiest restaurants I’ve ever eaten at. In fact, Justin is still angry I didn’t let him go back to it on Sunday. We had the Suisse and Pollo Verde crepes for dinner (both delicious) and, for desert, the Au Chocolat and the Pomme Tarte. THE POMME TARTE WAS HEAVEN IN A CREPE. The Au Chocolat was a little weak, I have to say, but the Pomme Tarte more than made up for it. Because we are gluttons, we also ordered one of their glazed donut muffins (as tasty as it sounds) and their cinnamon roll croissants, which, I’m pretty sure, Justin would happily have traded one or both of our children for seconds of. Sunday breakfast at Eggtc. was solid, if underwhelming, but lunch came roaring back in the success lane with Char Bar a totally fun, totally delicious BBQ joint (if you’re there on a Sunday, order the fried chicken: you will thank me). And then, finally, we hipstered it up by going to the Doughnut Lounge in a VERY hip neighborhood — where we were VERY out of place — and though I am in love with the concept (decadent donuts served in a bar-like atmosphere) I was not blown away by their donut selection or quality. Sorry, Doughnut Lounge, maybe you’re just TOO hip for this old lady.
Glory hallelujah, if you’re still reading this, you may have gotten the idea that I loved KC. I DID. LOVED IT. LOVE the idea that it’s so close. All I can think of is…when do we get to go again???