Mediocre Products Need Not Apply
Northland shoppers looking for a Crossroads or Westport selection of local artisan products now need go no further than Main Street in Historic Downtown Parkville. The Middle KC put an end to that.
Owner Michael Hollaway and his family live in Parkville. They, along with their neighbors and friends, were tired of having to drive South of the River to find the type of product they like to buy. The remedy was the inspiration: Hollaway opened his own store, The Middle KC.
“My intent at the Middle is to celebrate goods created in Kansas City and the Midwest. I’m proud of where I live and am consistently in awe of the creative culture here. It’s a great way to showcase the talent and provide a service to my community.”
Once inside this carefully crafted space, you’ll find a well-edited assortment of local products. Every item has a story. Every t-shirt, every candle, every local coaster and leather good comes from Midwestern artists and small batch vendors. Each unique, eye-catching piece of merchandise has earned its space on the cut away shelves that can easily be moved to make way for an event.
“When a vendor comes in wanting us to carry their merchandise, we sit down and listen to the story behind its creation. What was the maker’s inspiration? The story brings to life the reason for the item’s being. If it feels right, we welcome it to our selection.”
“Much of the inspiration for the merchandise selection comes directly from the community, “ adds Hollaway. “I partner with local businesses like S.D. Strong Distilling and Park University.”
Park University has been around for 140 years; yet merchandise featuring the Pirate mascot had never been sold off site until The Middle moved in. Now, Park Pirate fans can buy the burgundy and gold collegiate wear on Main Street. It’s one more first for the Middle.
“We are the first, the originals,” confirms Hollaway. “It just seemed like a natural fit.”
In addition to Pirate wear, cuddly soft t-shirts giving a nod to the World Champion KC Royals and the KC Chiefs hang among designs shoppers won’t find just anywhere. Simple, iconic figures come to life on clothing ranging from newborn size to adult. Memory provoking images on coasters entice visitors to pick up some for a friend or family member, and of course, a few for themselves. Part of the magic is in the personal connection created by the enchanting product mix.
What sells best? “Anything with local beer on it sells well,” says Hollaway. “Our local foodie area has also really taken off: Kansas City Canning Co., Wood + Salt, and Meat Mitch BBQ; the local favorite is our Boys Grow. Our Pickwick and Co. candles are always in high demand, also. We’ve had a hard time keeping them in stock since people discovered we carry them.”
The eclectic mix at The Middle also includes Coasters to Coasters, Basement Soap Co., Carly Rae Studios, Locally Grown Clothing Co., and Leather Works Minnesota.
While The Middle is primarily known for its merchandise, Hollaway created the interior to be flexible and conducive to hosting events. So far, he’s hosted a Park University alumni social and a joint event with Kansas City Canning Co and S.D. Strong Distilling that featured the infamous “Blood Orange Ginger Moscow mule” using S.D. Strong vodka and KSCS Shrub mix. Most recently, The Middle partnered with Park University to host a 96.5 The Buzz Beach Ball 2016 ticket giveaway.
Upcoming event dates include Aug 20, during Parkville Days. S.D. Strong Distilling and Boulevard Brewery will be in the store from 11am to 3pm serving their “Radler Moscow Mule” signature drink. S.D. Strong vodka, gin, and whiskey will also be available at The Middle that day.
Open since October of 2015, The Middle is really just beginning. Hollaway says he’s grateful for how generous, supportive and overall loving the Parkville community and surrounding areas have been to his family and him. By all measures, this business is a huge success.
“One of the best things about owning my store is being able to spend more time with my wife and son,” beams Hollaway. He points to a picture of his four-year-old son, a mini-version of himself. “This is one of the main reasons I did this. Need I say more?”
His smile says it all.