Sunday, September 25, 2022
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Made in KC is making local art accessible

  For Keith Bradley, there is power in keeping things local. As a part owner of Made in KC, Bradley believes in the importance of celebrating the creatives of Kansas City and giving them a platform to showcase their work. 

    “There’s more meaning to your purchase when you shop locally,” Bradley said. “People in this community have relationships with the artists and makers. They’re our neighbors and friends, and they’re your neighbors and friends.”

   Made in KC started in 2015 as a one-weekend pop-up shop in a 300-square-foot staircase in Prairiefire shopping center in Overland Park, KS. Tyler Enders and Thomas McIntyre organized the event to feature 15 local artists. 

  The pop-up was more successful than either could have imagined, and the two men founded Made in KC, a one-stop shop for local makers and artists to showcase their work. One month after the pop-up, Bradley joined the team as a third owner.

   “We wanted to make it easy and convenient to shop locally,” Bradley said. “We thought, ‘how can we best support these artists and makers? We wanted to make local shopping accessible for everyone. We didn’t want to do pop-ups every weekend, so we thought, ‘let’s open a store.’” 

  Bradley was integral to the opening of the second location in Briarcliff Village. Within six months after the initial pop-up, Made in KC expanded to three locations around the Kansas City area. Today, there are 10 Made in KC stores: three marketplaces, four neighborhood shops, and three cafés and bars.  

  The Country Club Plaza marketplace opened in 2018, though the owners had sights on opening a store on the plaza from day one.

  “The Plaza is the most popular retail center in Kansas City. It’s well known throughout the region, and it’s the best exposure for these artists,” Bradley said. “It’s a great opportunity for a lot of people who never even dreamed they could have a presence on the plaza.” 

  The 10,000-square-foot location offers a place for patrons to eat, drink, and shop locally, all at once. The plaza marketplace has a full bar, café, ice cream shop, and patio, designed to be a communal gathering space. Bradley said his favorite moments are when he finds customers looking through the makers’ booths with a coffee or a glass of wine in hand. 

  According to Bradley, Kansas City’s status as a small midwestern city creates a unique art culture where people have the time and space to be creative.

  “It’s not like New York or Los Angeles where you’re stacked up in studio apartments. Most people live in houses with basements or detached garages that give them a place to be creative,” Bradley said. 

  The difference between living in Kansas City and a large city is the opportunity to focus on art, but Made in KC is changing that. 

  He believes there is a significance to supporting local artists that benefits the entire city. Made in KC has given creators a platform to make creativity their focus. The vendors in Made in KC can sell their crafts as a supplemental source and in many cases a primary source of income.

  Based on Made in KC’s research, 90 cents of every dollar spent at Made in KC goes back to Kansas City. Bradley says that many of Made in KC’s over 100 vendors employ other community members, source their materials from other local businesses, and then sell their products to individuals who live in their city. 

  Shopping locally creates an ecosystem that Bradley believes every community should have.

mlb583@mail.umkc.edu

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