In 1936, two sisters opened a little Brookside boutique called Shop Beautiful.
More than eight decades later it’s still there, now owned by sisters of a different family but with the same mission: meaningful, personal gifts that will brighten someone’s day.
Abbey Fields and Sarah Douglas temporarily shut down their shop on New Year’s Eve. Then they spent three weeks gutting and remodeling the space at 320 W. 63rd St. It reopened in late January with a new white and turquoise decor, new logo and new merchandise.
“We think of Shop Beautiful as a person — a classy Kansas City lady who is generous, vibrant and fashionable,” Fields said.
It now features a SavArt pop-up with works by local artist Mike Savage, including scenes of the Country Club Plaza, Kauffman Stadium and even Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que; pearl jewelry by Pearly Girls in Prairie Village; and socks from Foot Traffic in the Crossroads Arts District with such designs as “Love the Wine You’re With” and its current top-selling llama socks.
Shop Beautiful carries jewelry by a Brookside artist who uses old and new materials in her designs, including stones, pearls, shells, fossils, Bakelite and more. The shop has long carried Trapp and Co. candles but now also offers Fairway-based Lake Candles with two scents created just for it: Beautiful Spring and Beautiful Summer. Beautiful Autumn and Beautiful Winter will roll out later in the year.
And it has a few collegiate-themed items for the University of Kansas, the University of Missouri and Kansas State University.
“The neighborhood has supported us 100 percent, so we want to support them,” said Cindy Price, who has worked the sales floor for 38 years. “And we want to have the right gift for everyone.”
But Shop Beautiful also has fine crystal jewelry made in Israel by Mariana and designs by Spain’s Unode50. Unode50 has one line where it makes just 50 pieces of each design to sell worldwide.
“Once they are gone, they are gone,” Price said.
Bar carts are currently trendy, so Shop Beautiful has polka dot drinking glasses and other unique barware pieces. The shop also is selling more home decor items such as lamps and pillows. Its stuffed doorstops, shaped like cats, a row of pigs or bunnies, have been particularly popular.
“It took us by surprise. People are buying the doorstops and taking them home to take a photo with their pet. So we are going to have a look-a-like contest,” Fields said.
The shop has a section for baby gifts and another for brides with Beatriz Ball pieces made from recycled metalware.
“They are sturdy, they don’t require polishing, they hold both heat and cold, and they are beautiful to look at,” Fields said. “When I first started working at Shop Beautiful we sold so much silver, but people had help polishing it then.”
One recent shopper gazed in delight at the seasonal displays set up for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. When Price asked if she needed help, she replied: “I’m just enjoying this.”
The original Shop Beautiful sign hangs high on one wall, above some shop artifacts including photos of the original owners, a 1946 check for $4.08, custom stamps to advertise the shop, a 1937 dime and an OPA 1 Red Point, change for ration coupons during World War II.
Fields said Frances Brockus purchased the shop in 1966 from the original owners, sisters Dorothy Gangwer and Alice DeVasher.
Ruthelma “Ruth” Martin, mother of Fields and Douglas, had been selling class rings, caps and gowns for graduation with a male business partner. But after he suddenly died, the company declined to let her keep the sales territory because she was a woman, Fields said.
Her attorney, who negotiated a settlement, also was Brockus’ brother-in-law and knew she needed help at Shop Beautiful. He suggested Martin, who had an economics degree, use the settlement money to buy into the shop. A year later, Martin became the sole owner after buying out Frances Brockus.
Fields joined the company full time in 1981, and Douglas joined full time in 1993. The sisters also have a location in Overland Park’s Hawthorne Plaza.
“It has always been a place where people come to visit with each other,” Fields said.