A century ago, Halls department store took a tiny space on fashionable Petticoat Lane in downtown Kansas City.
Since then it has survived generations of ever-changing tastes and shopping habits, economic downturns, several relocations, and a flood that soaked it in several feet of water.
Now spread out over 60,000 square feet on the top level of the Crown Center Shops, Halls on Grand is celebrating its centennial Sunday, Sept. 18, through Oct. 2.
Halls’ president and chief executive officer Kelly Cole said the department store’s success is from “staying consistently ahead of the curve, in merchandise, retail environment and customer service.”
“Very few privately owned companies have been around for 100 years. We’re very proud of that,” he said.
Retrospective showcases featuring vintage Halls fashions, photos and ads are currently displayed throughout the store.
Halls also will host two pop-up shops. Finefolk Shop + Studio, in the Crossroads Arts District, will showcase some of its women’s apparel during the two-week anniversary celebration. Milan-based Eleventy, Italian-made men’s and women’s tailored clothing and sportswear, will set up in Halls on Sept. 23 and 24.
Customers also can bid on more than 60 auction items displayed in the store and valued at between $20 and $4,500, including Charlie Hustle T-shirts signed by hometown celebrities Paul Rudd and Jason Sudeikis; handbags by Gucci, Francis Valentine and Michael Kors; women’s shoes by Jimmy Choo, Stuart Weitzman, Donald J Pliner and Rebecca Minkoff; sneakers signed by Ellen DeGeneres; a Polo Ralph Lauren made-to-measure tuxedo; and a Titleist golf bag signed by pro golfer Bill Haas. Proceeds benefit neighboring Children’s Mercy Hospital.
Bidding will be held Sunday through Oct. 2 during store hours. Bidders can get a number at the Halls concierge desk, which also will have the master bid sheet with updated bids. Winners will be notified after Sept. 19 via email.
Halls began as just a showcase in the lobby of the Gordon and Koppel building in downtown Kansas City in 1913. It displayed samples of the paper craft and postcard line being sold throughout Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska by Hall Brothers, the fledgling firm founded by Joyce C. Hall.
In 1916, Halls opened in a storefront on Petticoat Lane, displaying a variety of high-quality merchandise. It later expanded on Grand and then opened Halls Plaza in 1965, covering an entire city block. A couple of display cases were set up on the sidewalk in front of the store to draw customers in.
Inside, the “crown jewel” of the Plaza was outfitted with Baccarat chandeliers and ebony-embellished pear wood furnishings. It housed the Midwest’s only Steuben Gallery.
The downtown location closed in 1973 to make way for new development and Halls opened a three-level store in Crown Center that year.
September flooding in 1977 caused tens of millions of dollars in damage to Plaza businesses, including Halls. In 1979 the Plaza store was extensively renovated and a second floor was added.
Then in June 2013, Halls announced a striking realignment: It would close the Plaza store and consolidate it with a relocated and expanded Crown Center store. At the time, Halls said it no longer made economic sense to operate two Halls stores within about 20 blocks of each other. Rent was less at Crown Center, which already held the corporate offices as well as operations such as shipping and receiving.
The new Halls reopened in September 2014 with an expanded shoe department, the H Bar full-service cafe, a 5,000-square-foot interactive beauty department, larger dressing rooms with lounge-like waiting areas, and wider parking spaces on the third floor of the parking garage leading directly to the store.
It continues to feature designer brands exclusive to the market, including Oscar de la Renta, Gucci, Prada and Ermenegildo Zegna, but also merchandise by brands such as Levi’s and Hobo handbags.
“We have great offerings of style at great value along with these luxury exclusive brands,” Cole said. “But we work really hard to find the best quality at those price points that they can’t find at those other stores.”