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5:26 am
Wed April 2, 2014

New Kansas City Store Serves Up Midwestern Pride

Raygun owner and founder Mike Draper cracks himself up a little bit in his new Kansas City store.
Raygun owner and founder Mike Draper cracks himself up a little bit in his new Kansas City store.
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR

It’s not hard to find stores catering to people proud of their schools or sports teams, but a shop opening this week in Kansas City, Mo., called Raygun, is all about a perennial underdog: the Midwest.

Owner Mike Draper is from Iowa, and this will be his first store outside his home state.

Like a lot of Midwesterners, Draper left home when he could, but came back to take part in a big shift he sees taking place in the Midwestern self-image.   

“We wanted to have this reverse eastern exclusivity,” says Draper. “We wanted to build an exclusive company, but it’s exclusively Midwestern. Whereas normally, it’s kind of exclusive to wealthy enclaves on either coast, and ours is just exclusive to, I guess, middle-class Midwesterners."

Credit Frank Morris / KCUR-FM

Draper says that when he started the business in Des Moines a few years ago, he ran into half a dozen other people who were freshly back from the coasts, doing cool things in his underdog city — things they wouldn’t likely have been able to pull off back east.

And Draper thinks the whole region is going through a transition.

“Thanks to the Internet, you don’t really need a city of 12 million people. You can do the same things anywhere,” Draper says.

Draper's Kansas City-specific items include shirts that read: "Kansas City: Rock out with your shuttlecock out" and "Kansas City: Too much city for one state."

Raygun's official opening is April 4 at their location in the Crossroads Arts District.

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