The idea sprouted when Dave Eames and Ben Wine noticed more and more people every month wandering into their workshop during Lee’s Summit Fourth Friday Art Walk.
They decided a storefront would be a good idea, so the two craftsmen at Fossil Forge opened a retail location, the Local Foundery, on April 6.
“We knew we had this built-in destination, which was the city, and then it’s like, ‘You know what, why don’t we think about opening a store?’” Eames said.
But they wanted to include more than their own creations.
“We wanted to give everybody an opportunity who was a maker or had really cool things to sell to have an opportunity to do that,” Eames said.
Eames, a former graphic artist at the Kansas City Star, has made art most of his life and taken courses on blacksmithing and sculpture.
During the recession, he turned his home’s garage into a workshop where he created custom Little Free Libraries — nearly 40 of them — and shipped them all across the country. He also designed signs and clocks and other wall-hangings tailored to his customers’ interests.
He opened the 2,000-square-foot Fossil Forge Design on Southeast Main Street when business picked up in 2015. He and Wine had collaborated on several projects, so in 2017 they decided to partner. Local Foundery seemed like the natural next step.
Eames says the new space, which is also 2,000 square feet and occupies the 1960s fire station on Southwest Market Street, fills a need for an outlet where local craftspeople can sell their wares.
“We felt like there was this great potential in it, whether to celebrate other people’s work, or to sell our things, of course,” Eames said. “But also it could become a really cool gathering place for the city, so that we can take part in our art walks; we can have special events to draw people downtown.”
Local Foundery will sell Pickwick & Co. candles, locally printed Kansas City-themed T-shirts, pennants, and stickers, and glassware for both the 816 and 913 area codes. They expect to quickly add more locally created items from what’s shaping up to be dozens of vendors.
In addition to sales, the store offers an area where Eames and Wine can sit on old ice cream parlor stools and meet with clients interested in custom design.
“We want this to be the face of the design company, so if they see something they like, we can sit down and make them a custom piece and do all the design work and fabrication and deliver it back to the store,” said Wine, who’s also part owner of a couple of Lee’s Summit restaurants.
Eames says downtown Lee’s Summit is a “powerhouse of a retail, restaurant and arts district” that he’s proud to be part of.