Artisan market I Heart Local opens in downtown Shawnee

Local makers Breck Liston (left) and Haley Crosser have opened I Heart Local, an artisan market for Kansas City area makers, in downtown Shawnee. Photo submitted

Two local makers have opened a pop-up artisan market in downtown Shawnee.

I Heart Local is a storefront for makers in the Kansas City area to sell their products in a brick-and-mortar space. Located at 10919 Johnson Drive, the shop opened Oct. 11 and will stay open until New Year’s Eve.

Haley Crosser and Breck Liston, co-owners of the market, said they opened I Heart Local as a gathering space for local makers like themselves as well as a place for customers interested in an entirely local shopping experience.

“Everything in here is a local business and handmade,” Liston said.

The shop has already maxed out its space, catering to 22 local vendors. That includes merchandise from Liston and Crosser, who still run their own maker businesses. Liston owns Good Vibes Metal, and Crosser owns Nice Clothing Co.

Crosser noted that all of the vendors at I Heart Local are minority-owned businesses; almost all of the products came from businesses owned by women, and another is owned by a same-sex couple.

The two makers had been in business for the past three or so years, participating in craft shows like Strawberry Swing Indie Craft Fair and Overland Park Fall Festival, before they decided to embark on this new venture.

“We kept seeing each other, and we became friends because the maker community is really small,” Crosser said. “We had always talked about wanting a storefront where our other maker friends could sell their items because one of the hardest parts about being a small business owner is getting your product to the consumer.

“We wanted to give our maker friends an opportunity — and ourselves as well — to be in a store with each other and really have everything be handmade, have it be local and different.”

I Heart Local offers a range of items from food products to clothing to ‘giftables’ and decorations. Photo submitted

I Heart Local offers a range of items from clothing, baby items, metal signage, hand-poured candles, honey from local beekeepers, print art and art from a variety of media, items that have Kansas City pride and items that have nothing to do with the Kansas City area at all.

“It’s a boutique atmosphere; it’s not like when you go to a craft show and everyone has their own booth and everyone has a set amount of space,” Crosser said. “We wanted to make it a cohesive shopping experience because we want people to shop local, and we want people to be able to shop local in one space.”

I Heart Local is just one part of the flurry of recent commercial activity in downtown Shawnee. Since last year, the area of Johnson Drive and Nieman Road gained two microbreweries, and several sites are in the planning/design or construction phases, including Aztec Theater, McLain’s Market, a mixed-use residential and retail development and Stag’s Spring luxury apartment complex — besides public improvements along the Nieman Road corridor.

The two makers also have strong connections to the Shawnee community. Crosser, a Shawnee resident, said she and Liston were “really excited” about opening a pop-up shop in downtown Shawnee, particularly because of the new momentum there over the past several months. Liston has also been working in downtown Shawnee for the past decade — she, her husband and her father-in-law operate Avies Tech, which does home theater and security tech installations.

“With everything up and coming in Shawnee, this just felt like the perfect fit for us to open a store down here,” Crosser said.

While the makers aren’t planning to keep the store open after New Year’s Day, the outpouring of enthusiasm from local makers wanting to participate might have changed that. In fact, they have already have a waitlist of vendors.

“We didn’t know that the reaction was going to be so positive and that people were going to love it so much,” Crosser said. “We still have to have the meeting of what it’s going to take to move this forward. We’re hoping to open full time in this location in downtown Shawnee and be permanent. For right now, it is a pop-up, but we are hoping to evolve into a permanent store.”

A grand opening for the store is Nov. 1-3 with giveaways, in-store samples, raffles and a food truck, also in partnership with Servaes Brewing Company, which has planned a Fall Pairing with Mr. D’s Donuts.

The shop will also offer classes, including this one by local vendor Yaya.

I Heart Local is also participating in Small Business Saturday and Sip & Shop event with Servaes Brewing on Nov. 30 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The shop will also be open Nov. 29, the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday), as well as Dec. 24, Christmas Eve.

Starting Nov. 5, hours of operation will be as follows:

  • 12-7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday
  • 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Saturday
  • 12-4 p.m. Sunday