It’s 8:30 a.m. Good JuJu doesn’t open for another 30 minutes but there’s already a hefty line forming outside the door. This is what happens when one of Kansas City’s favorite antique stores is only open two days a month. But not just any two days—the first Friday and Saturday of the month to be exact.
When the clock finally strikes 9 a.m., the store’s blue doors swing open and each customer is immediately greeted with a Twizzler and a cheerful “Thank you for waiting in line!” Not a bad way to start the month, eh?
Read on for more inside information on KC Warehouse Weekends antiquing expedition. Whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced pro, everyone can afford to re-examine their shopping strategy. Here are our top suggestions.
1. Get an early start. You wouldn’t think a shopping event on a workday would attract a very large crowd. Well, think again, because every month hundreds of hard-working men and women play hooky to hunt down the best vintage finds in the land. Some even make a special trip into Kansas City for the occasion!
Most of the shops open between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., so if you want first pick, we’re sorry to say there will be no sleeping in for you. There is free parking available in the West Bottoms—we parked under the bridge right next to Good JuJu—but these lots fill up fast and many lots are now requiring you to pay a small fee. And we’re afraid your parking options only become more limited as the day goes on, so don’t forget to set your alarm and drink your morning coffee!
2. Don’t miss a shop. Down at the West Bottoms the streets are filled with warehouses and storefronts that only come to life one weekend a month. Each shop is bursting with antiques, vintage items and re-purposed pieces, but all of them come with a different attitude that you can feel the second you walk in the door. For example, you will only find real tree trunks that are part of the store’s decor at Rustic Vintage Rose. And Bella Patina’s top floor may surprise you, with its bridal boutique, fresh produce stall and a fully-loaded café. Another one-of-a-kind store, Hello Sailor, feels like a genuine vintage IKEA. Oh and did we mention it comes with cupcakes? There’s a KC Cupcake Company stand in the back. If you’re trying to avoid sugar, here are a few more can’t-miss shops to get you started.
- Top Hat Mercantile 1285 Hickory St, Kansas City, MO 64101
- Bottoms Up Antique Market 1300 W 13th St, Kansas City, MO 64102
- Restoration Emporium 1300 Liberty St. Kansas City, Missouri 64102
3. Know when to bargain. The great thing about treasure-hunting in the West Bottoms, is the possibility of walking away with a steal. (Is that French Neoclassical dresser really only $50? And that Griswold cast iron skillet marked $22?) In some of the shops, bargaining down the price of that antique typewriter you just have to have is welcomed and even encouraged. However, there are other stores with strict no-negotiating policies. Check the walls of the shop for signs on whether or not you should make the owner an offer they can’t refuse, and be sure you know when to fold ’em.
4. Eat food out of a truck. But will there be food? In this the case, the answer is a big ol’ capital YES! A handful of food trucks slowly roll onto the streets while you try to decide between an antique chandelier or a new old lamp. We’re not talking about mediocre burgers and fries, either. Think gourmet street eats like “Crawfish Mac n’ Cheese” from Beauty of the Bistro and carnitas from Crave. For once, it’s a good thing to be able to smell the trucks from a mile away.
5. Bring a flashlight—just in case. The last time we ventured down to First Fridays we just so happened to be in a check-out line when everything went dark. At first we thought it was just an unfortunate event at the particular store we were visiting, but we soon realized that the entire area was without power. This could have easily turned the lights off on everyone’s fun. However, the dedicated shop owners and hard-core shoppers didn’t let this mild inconvenience keep them from enjoying First Fridays to the fullest. Instinctively, everyone reached for their Smartphones and used the light as a guide to continue full speed ahead. It turns out this power outage wasn’t an isolated incident. The excitement of KC Warehouse Weekends is just too much for the 100-year-old buildings to handle sometimes!
As soon as the the sun sets, the music and art comes out to play, but that’s a blog for another day. In the meantime, finish up your antique wish list—your first Fridays are never going to be the same.