The area that we Kansas Citians call the West Bottoms was originally named the French Bottoms. In that area the Kansas Indians and French traders would meet to strike deals. Being along a confluence of two rivers meant good trapping grounds. Later the area would serve as a vital point for offloading goods transported along the river-way. The railroad built lines to serve this growing commerce and soon (1871) the stockyards were constructed. Kansas City grew out from this area, but the tie with the stockyards meant continued activity. The 1903 flood destroyed vast amounts of housing and residential properties, which moved to higher grounds in subsequent years. The stockyards continued to flourish, and at one time were the second largest in the nation. (Only Chicago’s were larger.) The end of WWII, as well as a second destructive flood (1951) signaled the end of the stockyards and with it the industrial machine of the West Bottoms.
We want to thank Sincerely, Ellis for their hospitality. Rest assured that all opinions are our own.
Breathing New Life
The large vacant warehouses were a reminder to the residents of the past, but the only businesses that seemed to re-engage were a handful of haunted houses. These were a perfect fit in the creepy old industrial buildings that sat empty in the majority of the area. Slowly other businesses began to find their way into the West Bottoms. Antique dealers loved the unique setting, which went well to highlight their merchandise. Artists saw an opportunity to be seen by large crowds when the First Friday Weekends were introduced. These one weekend a month events would draw shoppers from all around the region and have become a much anticipated occurrence. The next phase of regrowth for the area is to see businesses open on a more regular basis. This is finally happening and these days there are a growing number of shops that open their doors throughout the month.
We dropped by the West Bottoms on a Saturday in the middle of the month and found that the crowds have started to realize that stores have extended their hours. We parked the car and headed toward our destination. I wanted another cup of coffee, so first I popped into The Pink Daisy. A small coffee bar is set up inside, and soon it was back to our mission. With camera in hand, we made our way next door to Sincerely, Ellis.
The day was a little cool, but so was almost every weekend in what should have been the Spring of 2018. Our main focus for the day was to stop in Crystal’s favorite boutique in the area. We shop boutiques because they offer a selection that is usually a little different than the big box stores. In many of the cities that we visit, we make time to seek out these unique shopping experiences. We have never really included articles about them, but with our recent redesign of the website felt that these would make a good addition. Crystal assured me that we were not the only people who like to shop.
Sincerely Good Prices
Since we have been visiting boutiques for quite some time, we have seen the evolution of the mindset of many of the shopkeepers. At first this type of shopping was expensive and left us leaving empty handed. Over time, a new generation of sellers have arrived, and understand the principle of increasing volume by keeping prices manageable. At Sincerely, Ellis they like to keep all of their items priced below $40.00 each. This has made them quite popular with shoppers.
The open industrial vibe at the shops in the West Bottoms is a perfect fit for boutiques. It allows plenty of space for displays, while still feeling like it’s not too crowded. The bright colors of the merchandise play off of the faded brickwork and concrete floors. There is a feeling of history that surrounds you when you are wandering through the buildings in this part of the city.
On this particular day, Crystal got her first opportunity to play model. The staff at the store had selected a few of their pieces that would highlight the styles that they offer. I was surprised at the wide range of outfits and accessories that they have in stock. Crystal put her own spin on the selection by helping with the pairings. Many of the fashions that they carry are the current trends, so obviously the stock will change over time. Overall, we are both quite pleased with the pieces that Crystal has purchased from the shop.
We spent a while having fun with this photo shoot. Crystal enjoyed trying on all of the cute clothes, and I was happy to get to hone my skills at photography. (I usually don’t photograph many human subjects.) By the end of the session, Crystal had selected a few new pieces to add to her wardrobe. The owner was gracious enough to make an amazing offer. Anyone using the code “OURCHANGINGLIVES” will receive a 10% discount on their purchases. This can be used in the store or online. Wow! We are honored that she would do this for our readers. It looks like we will be spending even more time shopping the West Bottoms in the future. Fortunately, the area is returning to life. Perhaps we will see you there. Happy shopping!