Mike Draper has been scoping out the Crossroads Arts District for about six months, looking for a location for one of his "Midwestern-centric" screen-printing shops.
Now he is finalizing a lease for 1803 Baltimore Ave. He would take over the space in January and open a Raygun shop there in early April 2014.
Azalea Home is currently operating in the spot. Azalea Home officials declined to comment.
Draper started selling T-shirts his senior year of college and never stopped. He opened his first shop in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2005 as Smash, but the name was trademarked by a California company. So Draper changed the name to Raygun.
“It is a futuristic, non-existent weapon, something that was dangerous. It also was a name we could trademark,” he said.
He added another location in Iowa City in 2010.
The shops screen-print T-shirts, along with notebooks, posters, and coasters. They also carry buttons, stickers, postcards, clothing, socks, wallets, magnets and more.
Shirts have such cute saying as “Quit playing Ames with my heart” and a popular Kansas City shirt that says “KC — too much city for one state” with the K in Kansas and the C in Missouri.
“Kansas City has made a lot of progress in the last five years and it is on the upswing,” said Draper, from his Iowa headquarters this morning. “Before you needed some sort of reason to go down there. ‘Are you going to a funeral or something?’ But now if you are in your twenties that’s where you go when you want to get away for the weekend.”
Draper also published and has sold nearly 10,000 copies of its book “The Midwest: God’s Gift to Planet Earth,” a humorous illustrated guide to the history and culture of the Midwest.