The Meads bring an eye for style to North Kansas City
The 7-foot cactus behind the cash register catches your eye first (sadly, it’s not for sale), but the competition for your attention remains fierce inside Tyler Kingston Mercantile.
“We’re just finding cool stuff and bringing it in—a curated collection of a little bit of just everything that we love.”
Jessica Mead owns the store in North Kansas City with her husband, Ryan, and admits the couple doesn’t have a strategic master plan of the type of goods they stock. Instead, they just rely on instinct.
“Really, it’s just anything that catches our eye,” she says. “Cool stuff.”
That’s about as good as a descriptor as any for the collection of furniture and home goods you’ll find on the various shelves and tables. Adjacent to the mid-century style club chairs you might notice the collection of vintage maps. Atop the industrial side table made from reclaimed barn wood you’re likely to find key chains with kitschy sayings or handmade brass jewelry.
Mead said it’s all part of the evolution of the business, which first began in 2011. Back then, Ryan was making furniture and selling it through an Etsy page. But as demand picked up, he pushed pause on his day job so he could devote more time to the side business. One year later, Jessica quit her job as well to help out.
The two focused on furniture for the following four years, much of it designed for retail store clients (such as garment racks and shelving). Working out of a downtown studio/workshop, they opened on First Friday weekends while word of mouth grew. In April 2017, they decided to take the leap and open their first retail store at 422 Armour Road.
The new store is on the way to their downtown studio from their Northland home, and Mead says the energy of the area made it an easy choice.
“The location is so great,” she says. “And we love the kind of rebirth that’s happening in North Kansas City, with all of the fun new breweries, restaurants and just cool stuff that’s opening.”
The store sells a variety of handmade furniture built by Ryan, including one of their best-sellers, a mid-century hickory hexagon side table. Many of his pieces prominently feature reclaimed wood, salvaged from barns or other buildings across Missouri and Kansas.
While many items for sale aren’t locally made, Tyler Kingston does feature the work of a number of local artists and sellers, including some live-edge furniture by a fellow North Kansas City craftsman, stained glass sun catchers, vintage men’s clothing from Cable and Company, and Kansas City-themed prints from local designer Ryan Hubbard.
In addition to choosing what artists to partner with, Jessica can also be found out and about on Mondays and Tuesdays picking vintage goods to add to the store’s selection. While many of the pieces could fall into an industrial or mid-century modern category, she says it’s more about finding those pieces that reflect their character—whether they’re decades old or brand new.
“It’s really just paying attention to trends, colors that are coming out, things we personally like,” she says. “We’re loving brass fixtures and brass everything, so we’re stocking a lot of brass coming up in the spring.”
With three employees on the team, Jessica and Ryan also rent out their downtown studio for photo shoots and just recently wrapped up a large project for Lee Jeans, building tables and shelving and providing vintage goods for the company’s denim lab.
The couple hopes to eventually add a second retail location and further expand their furniture options. But for now, Mead says the store is in a good place, and they’re excited about the potential.
“Everyone we work with, from the city to our landlord to the people who live here, have been so welcoming, and just easy to work with,” she says. “It’s been awesome.”