Shop Local KC is bringing the spirit of The Strawberry Swing to Midtown

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Image courtesy Katie Mabry van Dieren

Katie Mabry van Dieren has been delighting Kansas Citians with The Strawberry Swing Indie Craft Fair since 2011. Since opening the pop-up craft fair 10 years ago, van Dieren has continued to build an empire of local makers. At the Swing, one will find hundreds of products created in Kansas City by new and veteran makers. Of course, no one can leave without a bouquet of flowers created by van Dieren herself. 

The Strawberry Swing has been consistently growing since its inception—with over 20,000 people attending some of the events. While the Swing’s fairs and pop-ups aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, van Dieren does have a new project up her sleeve. 

Shop Local KC—an extension of The Strawberry Swing that sells products from over 300 makers online—is opening a brick-and-mortar location in Midtown this month at 3630 Main St. 

The store will feature curated flowers and gifts exclusively from Kansas City artists and makers, just as is done at the Swing. Shoppers will be able to buy jewelry, apparel, paintings, prints, cards, and ceramics—among other things. Eventually, Shop Local KC will offer studio and meeting spaces for small makers and artists. That includes a classroom space where the public can take classes from their favorite makers. 

“The reason I chose this space is because it’s off the streetcar line, on Main,” says van Dieren. “It has its own parking lot, which is great. I foresee we’ll be able to have events in that parking lot, that’s the reason I chose this space. There’s no traffic already there. But I don’t need that—I’m excited to bring traffic there.”

Once at the store, shoppers are immediately drawn to three murals van Dieren commissioned for the space. Each is created by local women artists Jenny Meyer-McCall, Kit Landwehr, and Jess Macy. 

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Kit Landwehr with her mural.// Image courtesy Katie Mabry van Dieren

“It was really great to work with women and let them go. I’m so excited to support [all the makers]—I wouldn’t even have a business without all of them,” van Dieren says. “So I just have the megaphone that highlights them and shows them all to everybody, and then everyone can learn about them.”

The murals cover three sections of the store: two full walls of the interior and the front exterior wall. Each of them incorporates flowers into the theme, which is fitting for a shop extension of The Strawberry Swing. 

“I feel like flowers have really been kind of the way that has brought me, personally—and I think a lot of other people—a feeling of calmness and beauty in this crazy time where we’re all constantly grinding our teeth and not even knowing it,” van Dieren says. 

The entire purpose of Shop Local KC is obvious: van Dieren wants people to be empowered to buy from and support Kansas City creators. To that end, van Dieren purchases all the products in her store wholesale without commission. That way the artists are supported and free to create without the worry of moving products in the store in order to make a profit. Many of the products from the makers at Shop Local KC are exclusive to the store, so shoppers have access to makers like they would at Strawberry Swing events. 

“I’m really trying to make it a whole lifestyle,” says van Dieren. “I’m featuring makers and businesses and telling their story as well. Because, you know, that’s what I’m all about is supporting these local businesses and telling their story.”

Shop Local KC will be hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony at the storefront Friday, June 4, from 12-2 p.m. Mayor Lucas will be there to cut the ribbon between the store and its neighboring storefront, Blakk. As well, Cafe Ca Phe, Avec Moi Sweets, and The What Truck will be there serving their creations to attendees.

Categories: Culture