When Bill Spangler opened his store at the Village Shops in 1954, Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the Oval Office and the big news was Marilyn Monroe marrying Joe DiMaggio.
Fair to say that a lot’s changed since since Spangler’s opened its doors — and it’s hard to imagine that anyone back then would have predicted a world where we spend so much time talking about “tweeting” and “Kardashians.”
But in all those years, one thing has remained the same: Bill Spangler is still showing up to work 40 hours a week. Spangler turned 90 on Friday — and says he has no plans on slowing down anytime soon. He’s the Village Shops longest-tenured merchant.
“I like having somewhere to go and talking with my customers,” he said. “It keeps me busy.”
Spangler grew up in Kansas City and graduated from Southwest High School. He started his career working at S.S. Kresge Co. (better known today as Kmart), but decided he wanted to strike out on his own after the company moved him around.
“It was a good company to work for, but you got transferred all the time,” he said. “I think I moved five times in four years I was there.”
He chose the then-new Village Shops as the site to hang out his own shingle. The makeup of the store has shifted considerably — though gradually — since Spangler’s opened. At first, Spangler says, he focused on soft goods, like bedsheets and bath items. As the neighborhood and the market changed, he started adding more and more speciality gift items.
“The center itself hasn’t changed that much in all these years,” he said. “What people want has shifted, but the feel of the place is still the same.”