Tiffany Town has been a fixture in the Prairie Village Shopping Center for more than five decades.
But now the shop, at 3924 W. 69th Terrace, is shutting down. It is scheduled to close when its lease expires on Feb. 28. Most items are now discounted 20 percent with holiday ornaments discounted 50 percent.
Bob Harsh, who opened the shop in 1964, said sales at greeting card shops were down across the country. Still, he was in talks to extend his lease for the 4,800-square-foot space, or even move to a smaller space in the center.
But he said common area (fees charged on top of a tenant’s base rent to pay for maintenance on common areas of a property) had been increasing at a rate that would make it hard for a mom-and-pop operation to make a good profit.
“The lease is up and we owe money to nobody,” he said. “I’m 75 years old and I was even working Thanksgiving and Christmas changing the seasons out. So it was time to retire and see what else you can do with life besides work.”
One of those things will be visiting his granddaughter, Ella, 3 1/2, in New Jersey more than twice a year, when he would also be in the area for trade shows.
Tiffany Town first opened in the space now housing Chico’s and then expanded into what is now Cafe Provence.
It moved to its current location in 1977, offering a wide selection of Hallmark cards as well as wrapping paper and bows, jewelry, candles, T-shirts, photo albums and toys.
Harsh works the early shift and his wife, Diane, works in the afternoons.
Friday morning, the store had a steady stream of customers, one even bringing cookies for the staff from neighboring Dolce Bakery. They voiced such comments as “I’m not happy about this” and “I’m sorry you are closing.”
Gene Propp said his family has purchased most of their greeting cards at Tiffany Town since moving to Prairie Village 50 years ago. He came for the helpful staff and friendly atmosphere.
Bob Harsh said: “It’s been very hard. Some come in and are crying.”
His son, David Harsh, graduated from Kansas State University in mid-1998. At the time he celebrated over a Saturday lunch with his parents and told them he would see them at the shop on Monday morning. He has worked there full-time ever since.
Now he wants to reopen Tiffany Town in a smaller footprint, perhaps 900-to-1,200 square feet, and is looking in several areas of Johnson County.
In a statement, First Washington, owners of the Prairie Village Shopping Center, said: “Maintaining the Prairie Village Shops as a longstanding local landmark and preserving a unique shopping experience for Kansas City patrons is always our top priority. Our management team has worked diligently to try and reach an agreement with Tiffany Town, but Mr. Harsh has decided it’s time to retire. We wish him all the best going forward and will always cherish the Tiffany Town legacy.”
Late last year, Bruce Smith Drugs abruptly closed in the Prairie Village center, saying they hoped to reopen after restructuring the business. But the landlord has since filed a lawsuit seeking back rent and possession of the space.