After nearly 35 years, the Nell Hill’s store in Atchison, Kan., is closing.
The store will close at the end of business June 15 and consolidate with its sister store in The Village at Briarcliff in the Northland. The Atchison store’s five employees also will relocate to the Briarcliff store.
“I like to change things, shake things up,” said Mary Carol Garrity, owner of the home furnishings store with her husband, Dan Garrity. “My goal was not to have two stores. My energy comes from seeing everyone who comes through the door.”
Never miss a local story.
While one Facebook commentator said the road trip to Atchison is half the fun, many of Mary Carol Garrity’s loyal customers also want to see her when they come into the stores.
“But I can’t be in two places at once,” she said.
Garrity was working in Wichita when her father coaxed her to return to her hometown of Atchison to open a gourmet food shop, The Gourmet Corner, at 501 Commercial St., just across the street from the clothing store he owned with Garrity’s mother.
That was in 1981, and Garrity was 25 years old.
Because she hated to cook, she didn’t enjoy selling kitchen gadgets. She soon opened another shop on the second floor of the space, Nell Hill’s Above The Gourmet Corner, to sell the home decor items she was passionate about. She named it after her maternal grandmother.
At first, Garrity would select pieces that she knew would sell well and that reflected the latest trends. But later she learned to stay closer to her own style, things she would showcase in her own home, and that look has evolved over the years. She calls her style “new traditional.”
Nell Hill’s drew a strong following and was featured in national publications like Fortune and The Wall Street Journal, as well as national television shows.
In 2000, Dan Garrity retired from his law practice to oversee the business side of Nell Hill’s.
In late 2007, Nell Hill’s expanded to Kansas City with a freestanding, 18,000-square-foot showroom spread over two floors at 4101 N. Mulberry Drive in Briarcliff. It features living room vignettes so customers can get ideas on how to style their own homes.
Customers often stop on the way to and from the airport, or when they fly in for a day of shopping.
“The Atchison store is a little more about accessories, and in Briarcliff, it’s a little more about room design. Now Briarcliff will have both,” Mary Carol Garrity said. “Someone can come in and buy a little terra cotta bird for $5 or a $10,000 cabinet. Every year, we want to make it more interesting for you to come in and shop.”
Two years ago, the Garritys sold their historic Atchison home and moved to a new Kansas City home that she dubbed My Cottage by the Lake, which she often features in her Nell Hill’s blog.
Garrity turned 60 in January but said she is “not even close to retiring. If I ever will.”
Muscle Maker Grill in Olathe
Muscle Maker Grill is entering the market with a new Olathe location, and more locations are planned.
The fast-casual restaurant brand is taking a 1,600-square-foot space in the Olathe Pointe Shopping Center, 14967 W. 119th St.
Founded in 1995, Muscle Maker Grill said it provides “healthier versions of mainstream-favorite dishes.” Menu items include chicken, seafood, pasta, burgers, wraps, entree salads, fruit smoothies, protein shakes and energy bars. It has gluten-free and vegetarian selections, and it uses grass-fed steak and all-natural chicken.
The area franchisee, Raymore-based Muscle Corp., signed an agreement to open 15 locations in the Kansas City area and surrounding region, including Lawrence, making the franchise agreement the largest single developer deal for the company thus far this year.
The locations are scheduled to open over the next eight years, with the second area location scheduled to open in spring 2017.
“I’m from New York and have worked out all my life. I trained, my wife trained, and when I first went to (Muscle Maker Grill) in New Jersey, I thought it was the greatest thing. People want to eat healthy,” said Harry Kang, a partner in Muscle Corp. along with his wife, Sim Kang, and another couple, Jay and Vinni Jathaul. “So we wanted to bring this to Kansas City. People can pick up a good meal that’s healthy, clean eating, tasty food, and you are paying the same price as you would for a fast-food burger.”
Jay Jathaul has lived in the Kansas City area for 18 years, including the last 13 years in Raymore, and said he wanted to bring more jobs to the area.
The locations have 15 to 18 employees, depending on the size of the restaurant. They seat about 30 to 45 people, again depending on the size of the location, and offer carryout and delivery.
Muscle Maker Grill currently has nearly 50 franchised and corporate restaurants in 15 states.