Shop Girl: Two local businesses — Fetch and Sunlight Day Spa — might help you dread Valentine’s Day less

Those jumbo-sized Brach’s conversation hearts that invade drugstore aisles this time of year? They double as sidewalk chalk. That might be my favorite part of Valentine’s Day, which is an unnecessary garbage holiday. 

I don’t say that as an embittered single person, either. I say it as a jaded married one. This year, though, I’ve decided to follow the capitalism playbook and do something special for my husband on Feb. 14. Still, I prefer to keep Valentine’s Day simple (read: affordable) yet memorable. This goal leads me to Fetch, a paper goods and retail shop that opened down the strip from Blip Coffee Roasters in the West Bottoms last fall. 

With its matte black walls, polished wood floors, and exposed concrete pillars, the space feels elegant and inviting, especially on a cold day. I’m greeted by Stephanie Richardson, who co-owns Fetch with her business partner, Patrick Froman. With warm, reddish-brown hair and an easy smile, Richardson talks to me like an old friend as we walk around the shop.

“We didn’t want Fetch to feel too feminine,” she explains, showing me a shelf filled with eucalyptus and juniper-scented soaps. “We look for stuff that can be used by all genders.”

She spritzes some room spray, and it smells woodsy and kind of dangerous, like that time I went to Big Sur alone in my 20s. Everything at Fetch is made in America, often in out-of-town boutiques discovered by Richardson and Froman on their travels, though they feature a few local makers as well. Most shelves are stocked with a variety of candles, bath products, coffee mugs, and totes, but there’s enough here that you could visit several times and always see something new. On my third walkthrough, I spot notebooks emblazoned with “This Meeting is Bullshit” and “Brilliant Ideas I Had While Drunk.” 

About the latter, Richardson jokes, “We had to include that one because that’s how we came up with the idea for the store.”

The sense of humor runs deep here. Richardson tells me their beer cozies reading “Day Drunk” and “What the Fuck Happened Last Night” get quickly snatched up on the weekends, and irreverent greeting cards by Denver-based Craft Boner are hard to keep on the shelves. The card that reads “Your Penis is My Favorite” is currently sold out. Even the name of the store, a hashtag-ready catchphrase from the movie Mean Girls, is a bit tongue-in-cheek.

But this lighthearted playfulness is balanced with a serious desire to do good. Richardson says she and Froman like to partner with companies that give back. California-based Fable Soap Co., for instance, donates a bar of soap to women’s shelters with each purchase, and local candle maker Untamed Supply gives a portion of its proceeds to national parks. Fetch also carries products by Rudy’s Barbershop, famous for its LGBT outreach and It Gets Better Project.

“We want to support sustainable practices and small businesses that take care of their employees and the environment,” Richardson says. “We see Fetch as a place where you can always come and be among friends.”

Before I leave, Richardson offers me a LaCroix, which is as refreshing to my palate as Fetch has been to my sweetheart-centric shopping experience. I make plans to return for their Valentine pop-up market Feb. 3, which will be held in the shop’s large back room and feature vintage and handmade goods from Village Collection, Whiskey + Bone, and Commonwild, as well as crepes from Seven Swans Creperie.

With a solid gift plan in place, I start considering unique outings with my husband that don’t include our typical overpriced dinner at a restaurant neither of us has heard of because our first choice was already booked for weeks by the time we remembered to call the night before. With its infrared sauna dates, Sunlight Day Spa in Overland Park seems to offer just the ticket.

For me, the thought of sweltering in a traditional sauna sounds unappealing and unsexy; I always emerge from these wooden hotboxes dripping, panting, and disoriented, like a wet dog with low blood sugar. But Brooke Basaldua, Sunlight Day Spa’s marketing director, assures me her infrared saunas offer a different kind of experience. For starters, it’s a bit cooler in there, topping out around 140 degrees as opposed to 200. And there’s no steam involved.

“Traditional saunas get unbearably hot because it just heats the air,” Basaldua explains. “But infrared heats the body directly. The gentle heat raises the core temperature and leads to a deeper, detoxifying sweat.”

I become instantly skeptical at any mention of these nebulous and pervasive “toxins” that have allegedly infiltrated everything we consume, but it’s five degrees and sleeting outside, so I’m eager to get warm. I take off my jacket and step inside the sauna, which can comfortably hold up to three people. Within a few moments, I feel pleasantly toasty and even a bit gooey, like a marshmallow browned over a campfire. The temperature and infrared wavelength can be adjusted via a touchscreen monitor mounted to the wall in front of me. I can feel the sweat beading in my armpits as Basaldua enumerates the sauna’s many benefits, including weight loss, detoxification, and pain relief. I ask her why I’d want to take a date there.

“There are no outside distractions and hopefully no phones,” she says. “You can talk or be comfortably silent while doing something good for yourself. You aren’t wearing makeup, so it creates true authenticity, and that creates intimacy.”

Again, I’m a bit incredulous, but I guess Basaldua would know better than I do — Sunlight Day Spa has been a pioneer in infrared spa technology for the last ten years, with its products in use all over the country and favored by several major celebrities. She even cites a UMKC study showing that regular infrared sessions can improve heart health and lower blood pressure without medication.

And that’s great, but on this frigid day I’m more concerned with how I will feel after a surprisingly affordable $35 session. (It’s $55 for a couple, and packages are also available.) When I emerge, I’m calm and surprisingly clear-headed, as though I’ve just taken a two-hour nap. In other words, the sauna offers instant gratification. And if we’re being honest, nothing speaks to the spirit of Valentine’s Day more than that. 

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