Wally Kennedy: Boutiques finding a home in Joplin | Local News

At first, I thought it was an interesting development. Kind of a novelty. Now, it’s a full-blown trend. I have been watching Range Line Road and Main Street for a long time, and I have never seen anything quite like this.

It’s as if someone offered a course on how to open and operate a women’s boutique, and all of the graduates came to Joplin to try their hand at running their own business. Main Street is getting a new boutique this week, and another is on the way. I’ve lost count, but I think we are approaching a half dozen in the last year or so. These boutiques are being opened primarily by women who are venturing into the retail world for the first time.

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The Freebird Boutique, 911 S. Main St., will have its grand opening on Saturday. It’s being opened by Heather Kahtaman, who moved here with her family six years ago from Springfield. About the interest in boutiques, she said, “It’s a huge trend. It has a lot to do with getting personalized service.”

Freebird Boutique will offer a mixture of new and old. Name-brand women’s clothing and home decor — including some items Kahtaman has found in antique stores, flea markets and thrift stores — will be featured in the store. The clothing lines she chooses are reflective of her tastes and that of her 17-year-old daughter.

“With home decor, I like to find unique things that can be reused but not for the original purpose,” she said. “When I go to market in Dallas, I also like to check out the antique stores there. Things like baskets, wood benches and bread boxes. I am always looking for a cute way to decorate.”

Kahtaman could have opened her boutique in a shopping center, but she chose a historic building in the downtown district to start her business. Several boutiques are now operating in the downtown area, where they often have convenient, front-door parking. She sees this clustering of boutiques as a good thing in that more distinct brands will be available. Brands, for reasons of exclusivity, often place restrictions on how many retailers can offer their brand in a specific retail or geographic area.

The clustering of these boutiques, along with niche restaurants, also can fuel a synergy that is needed to create “a shopping experience.”

The Freebird Boutique has opened in the recently-restored Eisen Building, which was built in 1921. There are three storefronts in this building and all of them are occupied. The other tenants are Tech Hound, a computer-repair store, and Vazzo Promotional Products.

Photo opportunity

The Easter Bunny has arrived at Northpark Mall and will be in his garden near the JC Penney court through April 20. The mall will be closed on Easter Sunday.

Kids young and old are invited to visit and take pictures at the Easter Bunny’s garden. There are several photo options to choose from, all of which include a Shutterfly promo card redeemable online for a free 8×11 inch photobook. All little ones will receive a coloring sheet to decorate.

Also, Pet Photo Nights will be held from 6-9 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays during the Easter Bunny’s visit. All pets must be on a leash or in a carrier.

Northpark Mall will host Bunny Cares, a sensory-friendly event for children with special needs, from 10 a.m. to noon today. On Friday, April 19, local kids are invited to come down to the Easter Bunny set to decorate Easter Egg Cookies, courtesy of Great American Cookie. Cookies are limited to the first 150 kids in attendance. This will take place between 10 a.m. and noon. Kids will also have the opportunity to decorate aprons and chef hats.


Tartan Traders Collectibles, 300 N. Range Line Road, has closed. The antique shop and flea market has been operated by Patrick McGlashan, a true Scotsman, for the past 6 1/2 years.

McGlashan has moved the shop’s inventory to Etcetera, another shop he owns, at 5215 N. Main St. The shop is next door to the Habitat for Humanity’s Restore and the Fancy Flamingo flea market. Here’s another example of effective clustering.

The building at 300 N. Range Line Road, which started as years ago as Bicycle Specialists, has about 4,000 square feet of space. It is now available for lease.

Another closing

A Booze Brothers Liquor store at 1006 S. Range Line Road has closed. The liquor store, a former Kum ‘N Go convenience store, opened about this time last year.


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