816 Business

Vending machines with a distinct KC connection

The Kansas City Star

A father and son, waiting on their long-delayed flight back to Maryland, killed some time recently checking out a new vending machine at Kansas City International Airport.

The son, a high school senior, already had all the souvenirs he needed. Still, he was intrigued by the various Kansas City products offered. His father was more interested in the business aspect, saying the vending machine was such a good idea it should be on ABC’s Shark Tank, a reality show where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to investors.

The vending machine is the brainchild of Tiffany King, who lives in Leawood, and Suzanne Southard, who lives in Westport. They launched Souvenear in late 2014 with a vending machine in Terminal B near Southwest Airlines.

It features items from Kansas City-based artists, designers and producers — jewelry, artwork, T-shirts, specialty foods and other travel-sized mementos — many with a Kansas City theme. Prices range from $2.50 to $40.

“So often when you are looking for that last-minute item it’s hard to find something that really connects with that city,” King said. “And these don’t feel last minute. There is a lot of care and artistry put into the products.”

Souvenear’s goal is to give local artists more exposure and sales opportunities in a well-traveled location where locally-made goods typically aren’t represented. Often companies just put out a generic item and sell it all over the country with only the name of the city or state tagged on to give the souvenir that local feel.

Souvenear also makes Shuttlecock earrings which also are available in The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s museum store, as well as Unique Finds and The General Store & Co. in Overland Park.

The earrings are in the new vending machine, as well as prints by Allan Chow who is based Brookside, postcards by Hammerpress Letterpress & Design Studio in the Crossroads Arts District, notepads featuring an illustration of the Country Club Plaza skyline by Tammy Smith Design in Westwood, laser-cut bamboo coasters and necklaces shaped like a buffalo and coasters Decoylab Design Studio in Kansas City, T-shirts by Normal Human in Westport, and Chai Pistachio Brittle by Little Freshie on the West Side, and more.

Last Wednesday, Souvenear set up a second vending machine in the United Airlines gate area in Terminal C and the partners hope to add other locations.

Blow dry bar for P&L

Posh KC Blow Dry Bar plans to open later this month in the Power & Light District.

It will offer services for men and women, including hair styling, head massages and makeup applications, but no haircuts or coloring services.

It is taking a 1,000-square-foot space at 1211 Main St., next to Polished Nail Salon. MeMa’s Old-Fashioned Bakery formerly occupied the space but recently relocated to a larger space in the district.

In addition to walk-in and appointment services, Posh will offer bridal packages for weddings and special events, as well as memberships and packages for frequent customers. The monthly membership will be for regular services and discounts on products costing $60 or more.

“We’ve always loved the downtown area and thought it was a great location,” said Ashley Patton, owner of Posh KC with Kelly Ragsdale.

Cupcakery for Crown Center

Smallcakes Cupcakery and Creamery plans to open in the Crown Center Shops by late spring.

It is taking a first-level space near The Coterie Theatre that was formerly occupied by Big Momma’s Bakery-Cafe.

Smallcakes Cupcakery and Creamery specializes in gourmet cupcakes and cupcake ice cream. The shops offer 18 signature cupcake flavors daily, all made fresh from scratch. The Crown Center store also will feature 12 signature ice cream flavors daily.

The locally owned Smallcakes first opened in 2008 and currently has 98 locations in 19 states. Founder Jeff Martin has been featured on The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars and other national shows.

“We have looked at Crown Center for years, but with Halls and Spin, it felt like the right time,” Martin said. “We are super excited. I’ve been there all week, and it seems like it is getting alive and kids are everywhere.”

A new 60,000-square-foot Halls store opened in September, and Spin Neapolitan Pizza plans a March opening in the shops at 2450 Grand Blvd.

In a statement, Greg Russell, Crown Center’s vice president of leasing, said: “We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Smallcakes to Crown Center. Their renowned success speaks for itself and we know the store will be a huge attraction for our customers.”

The family-owned Big Momma’s Bakery-Cafe closed in January. One of the sisters wanted to go into full-time ministry.

To reach Joyce Smith, call 816-234-4692 or send email to jsmith@kcstar.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter at JoyceKC