Tiffany Town’s owner Bob Harsh was in his seventies when his store closed in January. The owner of Spangler’s, WIlliam Spangler, was 94 when he closed his 60-year-old shop in the Village Shopping Center this February. Fleet Feet was next to go. Then it was Bruce Smith Drugs.
In the last few months, four long-standing shops in the Village closed due to retirement of shop owners and the need for retiring outdated products and services, according to Donna Potts from the Prairie Village Merchants Association.
Senior Chace Prothe filled his prescriptions at Bruce Smith Drugs and bought birthday cards at Tiffany Town. He remembers Bruce Smith’s being a hub as a middle schooler at Indian Hills.
“[The stores] were very convenient to have,” Prothe said. “I’m not really sure where else to [buy those things] in the Village now.”
The Village will primarily be filling the open spaces with services like restaurants, Potts said. In order to modernize, Prairie Village city planners have to comply with the internet and online shopping, which decreases the demand for retail stores.
“Shopping malls are going to services,” Potts said. “You’re going to see more restaurants and things like that.”
Village Shops’ real estate agent, Anna Rainbolt from First Washington Realty, said that the shops leaving is the “normal rhythm of retail.” Retail goes out in groups, services fill their spots. Most recently, places like Story, Chocolate Frog, Chipotle Mexican Grille and Etiquette Boutique took the place of decade-old shops.
One well-established shop in the Village, TCBY, has been standing for 19 years, so co-owner Nancy Bream has seen businesses come and go. She knows that this change is inevitable.
“We all know things change over the years,” Bream said. “I am going to have faith that they will bring in stores that will keep that friendliness and that local flare.”
This year, with Tiffany Town, Fleet Feet, Bruce Smith Drugs and Spangler’s leaving, the Little Gym and the owner of the Mixx are among the first to officially sign leases to replace these storefronts. Both replacements will ultimately attract a younger crowd and comply with the tight-knit community feeling of Prairie Village, according to Potts.
Although no other future stores are set in stone, Potts said the Village’s stable places anticipate the addition of more local-friendly businesses to increase the customer traffic the Village has recently lacked.
Based on the popularity of the Mixx, Potts hopes the owner Jo Marie Scaglia’s plans for the village location will fix this lull. However, the traditional Mixx is not what will appear in the Village, as she is in the process of creating a variation of the same concept.
“[The] new concept has a different name and will offer different foods, but stay in line with the Mixx food philosophy of making everything from scratch and customized meals,” Scaglia said.
Scaglia’s original motivation for creating the Mixx stemmed from noticing a lack of healthy, fast-casual restaurants in the Kansas City area. Her vision was clear: “There’s no simpler pleasure than a good lunch with good friends. I truly believe that it nourishes the soul. I crafted the Mixx first and foremost as a space where I would want to have lunch with friends.”
She utilizes other local markets such as Farm to Market bread, the Roasterie coffee and Scratch Bakery, while creating an uplifting and casual atmosphere which meshes will with the Village community. According to Scaglia, the Village will also offer a marketplace for prepared salads, meals and side dishes.
Junior Katie Uresti, who lives along the perimeter of the Village, is excited for the upcoming variation to be close by.
“I wish there were more restaurants that teens could go to in that price range,” Uresti said. “Right now there are a lot of random expensive places [in the Village] so more casual [restaurants] will be good.”
On the other hand The Little Gym, which was previously A Fairytale Ballet, will open April 10. As a center for “parent/child classes, kids dance, gymnastics, sports skills and karate,” it aims to attract younger families, according to their website.
“The Little Gym will be great for mothers with kids,” Potts said. “[And] there’s a lot of those in Prairie Village.”
Although the increase in customer traffic will benefit business, Bream hopes the diversified clientele which new stores and restaurants attract, will maintain the local, friendly and safe appeal Prairie Village currently provides.
“Customers become friends and you are interested in each others families and kids and you go through hard times together and that’s what Prairie Village [has always] meant to me,” Bream said. “The people that live in PV are what make it special, it’s a real neighborhood.”