Rally House Aggieville opening in former Varney’s spot in Manhattan

Lenexa-based Sampler Stores Inc. is expanding to Manhattan.

It plans to open Rally House Aggieville at 10 a.m. Saturday at 623 N. Manhattan Ave., in the former Varney’s bookstore space. It will have 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.

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 stores 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 good for the city of Manhattan and Aggieville,” Levin said.

Joyce Smith: 816-234-4692, @JoyceKC