Lenexa-based Sampler Stores Inc. finally has a Manhattan shop targeting K-State students.
It opened Rally House Aggieville Saturday at 623 N. Manhattan Ave., in the former Varney’s bookstore space. It has a large selection of K-State apparel and gift items, as well as merchandise featuring other teams.
Sampler Stores got its start in 1989 as Mabel’s Kitchen, which sold artisan products and food from small town vendors throughout Kansas. The owners, Tim and Mabel “Peg” Liebert, then founded Kansas Sampler, which is all about Kansas — from apparel to food products to picture and history books.
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When they expanded to other states in 2009, they opened under the name Rally House, and offered apparel featuring a variety of college and pro teams and other merchandise. But the older Kansas stores kept operating as Kansas Sampler.
Sampler Stores now has more than 60 locations in nine states selling regional sports apparel, accessories and gifts.
Varney’s closed in late June after 126 years. It sold textbooks, office and art supplies, and K-State merchandise. Jon Levin starting working in the store in 1957, became a minority partner in the 1960s and then purchased the business 1992. But in the last few years he lost too much of his textbook sales to Amazon and other online sites.
“I’m pleased that they have purchased our building and that we will be replaced with another retailer and a strong retailer. I think it will be good for the city of Manhattan and Aggieville,” Levin said.
Crushed Red expansion
In March 2015, Crushed Red Urban Bake & Chop Shop confirmed that it was targeting the Kansas City market for expansion in 2015.
It was a bit behind schedule, but in mid-July of this year, area franchisee ALW LLC said it planned a fourth-quarter opening for the first area Crushed Red, at 10640 Roe Ave. in Overland Park. The franchisee also wants to open more area locations, including another in Overland Park.
Now a new Tulsa-based area franchisee, CRSW LLC, has signed an agreement for at least 20 units in Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and northern Texas by 2020. CRSW LLC plans to open a location in Tulsa in spring 2017, but in some markets it will help other franchisees open locations under its agreement.
“Our goal is to really build out this region. Our plan is to very aggressively market and open these stores,” said Sean Kouplen, managing director of CRSW.
The fast casual St. Louis-based franchise serves whole-grain pizzas and chopped-to-order salads. It was founded in 2012 and began franchising in 2014. It currently has three corporate-owned stores in the St. Louis area as well as two locations owned by a franchisee in Colorado.
Another franchisee is opening a location at 2540 Broadway Bluffs Drive in Columbia on Sept. 22.
Menu items include build-your-own salads with ingredients like broccoli, roasted corn, black beans, seasonal fruit, pesto roasted shrimp and sirloin steak with a choice of organic dressings.
Specialty pizzas include the Yukon Gold Steakhouse with Parmesan cream, sirloin steak, Yukon potatoes and gorgonzola cheese, and the chipotle BBQ Chicken with black beans, roasted corn, caramelized onion and pepper jack cheese.