Kori Crum’s life is a bit crazy — she lives in a big house with a combined family of five kids ages 8-19 — so it’s fitting she named her rustic retail shop Chaos Boutique.
The downtown Parkville storefront brims with handmade decor, home goods, jewelry and gifts. She also refurbishes cabinets and furniture, and teaches classes on how to do so. The shop is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, plus longer hours during events like Parkville Days, this year on Aug. 21-23.
Follow ChaosBoutiqueKC on Facebook for class events and new merchandise.
How would you describe the selections in your shop?
Unique and quirky, with a rustic vibe. There’s a little bit of everything: things in all price ranges and things other people don’t have. When I advertised for vendors, I had them submit pictures of their stuff before committing to working with them. I have four vendors: one makes T-shirts, two make handmade gift shop-type things, there’s some consignment and everything else is mine.
You started out as a vendor in a West Bottoms warehouse selling your refurbished furniture?
I wasn’t there too long; I was getting bored. I learned from my experience in the Bottoms that you’ve got to have little stuff too, so I started going to estate sales to get some inventory. But I still try to focus mostly on custom work for clients, which I do in my basement at home, and I’ve also got small furniture like side tables and dressers in the basement here in various stages of completeness. I’ve probably got 19 things almost ready to go, but I can’t hardly finish a sentence much less a piece of furniture.
Why the move to Parkville?
I’ve always loved Parkville so I moved here two years ago when I got remarried. I worked in finance my whole life and I couldn’t work my hours and get the kids to all their activities. I’ve always done this on the side, and it was time to give it a real try. It’s chaos here, so busy on Saturdays. My mom and daughter help me, but I’m thinking of hiring someone full time so I’ll have more time for custom work.
You make a lot of the products you sell in the store?
I make yard games like yard dice, left/right/center and Jenga. It started as a family thing. When we’d have a cookout we’d play the games. Then I made s’mores sticks and dominoes for a bridal party and it was a huge hit. I also made a lot of dominoes for Father’s Day.
Where do you get all the old wood?
My grandpa’s farm in Tonganoxie. He’s got an old barn that’s been there as long as I’ve been alive. I grew up playing there. He’s got wood stored inside, and he got real mad when I started pulling wood off the building. At some point, though, it will have to come down.
Some of your other vendors use wood, too, to make signs with cheeky sayings. Tell me about those.
Those are best-sellers; I go through about 100 a week. Some people can be offended, but more often I hear people cracking up, laughing.
What are some of the favorites?
“This wine is really making me awesome.” People also like “My family is a circus without the tent.” I have that one at home. I also have “Seriously??? Keep calm in this house?”
You also teach classes?
I teach a few paint classes in the evening: distressing techniques and how to use chalk paint on old cabinet doors. I show them the basics so they can do it on their own, but it’s really easy. A lot of people think they have to do things the old-fashioned way, but the way I teach there’s no stripping, sanding or polyurethane.
What is it about chalk paint that makes the job so easy?
It’s like Plaster of Paris. It attaches to whatever you put it on and even blocks old lead paint from chipping off.
Of all the jobs you do here, which part is the most fun?
Going to find my treasures. I love flea markets and swap meets. I go to the Boulevard Drive-In theater on Merriam Lane and out to Sparks, Kansas, where they have 500 vendors set up two weekends a year. (The next one is Sept. 3-6.)
People also call me and say: “I found this, do you want it?” There’s not much I can’t find something to do with. I’ve picked tables up off the side of the road and fixed them up. I turned an old box spring into a place to hang lights in my front window. Thankfully, I have a really large basement.