New City Market shop offers traditional household items with a twist

The City Market’s new Yoki will have you smiling as you shop.

The store, which will have its grand opening from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, offers a variety of home goods including many “Japanese-inspired” items that are “high-quality but affordable,” the owners said. An inventory list includes housewares, kitchenware, dishes and ceramics, stationery and home office items, health and beauty products, gifts, novelties and seasonal items.

But it’s the twist on these traditional items that brings the smiles.

There are contact lens cases shaped like little desserts, Hello Kitty safety scissors and dress-up figures, Japanese soft drinks (one brand that has a marble inside the bottle), elephant-shaped watering cans and pig-shaped pencil sharpeners, plush black cats to hold your cell phone, stickers of sushi rolls and kimonos, socks with shamrock decals to put on chair legs, and “arm covers” that women wear when they want to avoid tanning, the owners said.

Yoki also carries such items as sushi boards and sushi roll molds, green teas, plastic document cases and false eyelashes.

“My sister, Teresa, wanted me to carry those. She says everyone wears them,” said Donny Lo, a partner with Peng Her in Yoki.

The partners, who have been friends for about seven years, named their shop Yoki as a spin on the Japanese word for “cheer” or “encouragement,” something they hope the store will bring to their customers’ lives.

“We wanted to bring a piece of Japan-town to Kansas City,” said Lo, who is of Taiwanese descent. “We definitely feel like these items have been popular on the West Coast, where I am from, and it will fit in with the growing residential downtown.”

The shop is on the northeast corner of the City Market, at 400 Grand Blvd., Suite 426.

Hours will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Friday and 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.

With this new tenant the City Market’s occupancy is now 94 percent.

Superlatives to close

Superlatives, a home furnishings, antiques and gift store, is closing its retail location after more than 40 years of operations.

The owners plan to concentrate on their interior design business.

Dan Flannery founded the company in 1972 just south of the Plaza and later moved it to Crown Center. Superlatives moved to the Plaza in 1984, and Judy Barlow later became a partner. The shop has been at its 320 Ward Parkway location since 1996.

“Our lease will be up in April, and our core business, interior design, is taking so much of our time,” Barlow said. “So we decided to devote our energies toward that.”

The retail shop is open daily, and it required the owners to travel to Europe and elsewhere to stock the inventory with antiques and unique new items.

“We’re not getting any younger. Now we will be able to set our own hours and continue to work on some interesting projects in town and out of town as well,” Flannery said. “But we wanted to remain on the Plaza. We have been here for 30 years.”

Superlatives is working on a lease for a second floor studio space at 411 Nichols Road that will be open by appointment only.

The store is having a sale with most items 40 percent off. It will start a “liquidation sale” with more aggressive discounts in late April that also will include fixtures. The store is scheduled to close by early June.