Kaplan’s Fabrics has been a Country Club Plaza staple for decades.
But not for much longer.
The store, at 430 Ward Parkway, will close when its lease expires at the end of the month.
“I decided not to renew my lease,” owner Alan Rubin said at the shop on Thursday. “I’m retiring from the fabric business.”
The late A.J. Kaplan opened Kaplan’s in late August 1948 in “air-conditioned quarters” above a Kroger grocery store. Its mandate? Carry “only the finest merchandise.”
Kaplan sold the store to his employees, Rubin and Steve Chaskelson, in 1979. But Rubin said Kaplan still came into work each day until a couple of weeks before he died in his early 90s.
Rubin, who became sole owner after Chaskelson retired in 2012, said they never considered opening additional locations. The business is so personalized they wanted to be in the store when their customers came in.
“Kaplan’s has had three generations of weddings,” he said. “People who spend time sewing want to sew something nice, not something that will fall apart soon. We have customers who made a coat 30 years ago and they still wear it. It is just quality, like driving a car for 300,000 miles.”
Nataliya Meyer, owner of Oblivion Clothing Design, agreed.
“High-quality fabric becomes a high-quality product,” said Meyer, who has shopped at Kaplan’s since moving to Kansas City a decade ago. “I look at fabric online and you find different costs. But it is definitely different when you can’t touch.”
Professional seamstress Saundra Breiby also was at the shop Thursday. She said she could remember the exact spot in the store where she found the lace for her niece’s wedding nearly a decade ago and brightly colored silk chiffon for a dress that her daughter recently wore to a Jazzoo fundraiser.
Rubin used to go to market for his purchases. Now the companies send him samples.
“I’ve known them for 38 years,” he said. “I can trust them.”
The store is stocked with Italian wool, cashmere gabardine, Hugo Boss cotton, a Santa Claus pattern tapestry and delicate lace.
But Kaplan’s has started a “retirement/going out of business” sale, with fabric, patterns, notions and buttons 50 to 75 percent off.
Rubin’s father recently passed away, so he plans to spend some time with his mother in Florida.
“I’ll recharge my batteries,” he said. “I’m still looking for a buyer for the business, someone to carry on the tradition of fine fabric. But no one has made me an offer yet. And I can still sell.”
A gray/black/red woven fabric catches Breiby’s eye.
“I can make you a good deal on that,” Rubin said.