Retail

In Kansas City these days, the phrase “tax-increment financing” generates lively conversation. But a different type of economic development tool, called the “community improvement district,” is in broad use around the metro, even though a lot of people may not know anything about it.

Guest:

  • Kevin Collison writes about development for KCUR.
Kevin Collison for KCUR

Whenever you make a purchase at the Ward Parkway Center, say a pair of shoes or a dress, you pay the customary 8.35 percent Kansas City sales tax on every dollar you spend.

You also might enjoy the new renovations and upgrades that have made the 50-year-old shopping center a brighter, more attractive place. Take a little pride of ownership; after all, you helped pay for it.

Coy Dugger / KCUR 89.3

Stepping through the doors of the Harry J. Epstein Co. hardware and surplus shop in downtown Kansas City, Missouri is like stepping through time.

At first glance, Epstein’s looks like an old-fashioned, everyday hardware store. The shelves are lined with packages of bolts, and bins are stocked with piles of steel hand tools. 

But not all of the items are what you would find in an everyday tool shed. Some of Epstein’s more unusual products would make even the most proficient garage guru green with envy.

Coy Dugger / KCUR

Hardware store memories are about more than that tell-tale hardware store smell. How the story of industry in Kansas City mirrors the story of hardware stores, and what communities lose as those mom n' pop neighborhood shops fall away. Plus, how one of the oldest hardware stores in town has reinvented itself to survive. Hint: it involves a flying dolphin.

Guests:

The day after Thanksgiving remains the biggest shopping day of the year, but some researchers say that Black Friday is losing steam, as online shopping becomes the norm.

Guests:

  • Jessica Lee and Noelle Nelson are professors in Marketing and Consumer Mentality at the University of Kansas School of Business.

A local blogger has collected and published photographs of the little corner grocery stores that used to fill Kansas City's midtown neighborhoods. It elicited a passionate response. What is it about the history and demise of mom n' pop groceries that touches a nerve?

Guests:

Frank Morris / KCUR

This story was rebroadcast as part of our best-of 2015 series. It was originally reported in May 2015.

Just a few years ago, downtown Hamilton, Missouri, looked a lot like many other forgotten, rural towns. Abandoned, forlorn buildings marred the main drag.

But in recent years, an explosively fast-growing startup business in rural northwestern Missouri has shaken up a staid industry, producing a YouTube star and revitalizing a town with a proud retail history.

That's why Dean Hales, who has lived here 77 years, is so delighted now.

The Rise And Fall Of Metcalf South And Indian Springs

May 1, 2015
Christina Lieffring

Metcalf South and Indian Springs were built when indoor shopping malls were cropping up all over the United States. Both rose to prominence and became destinations during the same time period of the late 1970s and early '80s. But they declined for very different reasons, which reverberate in the aftermath and redevelopment of their spaces. 

The pre-opening hype would be hard to deny. Just ask the people who spent two nights camping out to be among the first to enter the new Merriam IKEA on opening day. So what is the IKEA story, and how do we expect the global furniture retailer to affect the local economy?

Guests:

When Chris Fleck began working on a commercial for the East Hills mall, he knew he wanted to go "different." He succeeded. The commercial has gone viral, generating more than two million hits on YouTube. The bait getting people to watch it? Suggestions that it may well be the worst shopping mall commercial of all time.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Swedish furniture retailer IKEA opens in Merriam, Kan., at 9 a.m. Wednesday, and a line has been forming outside of the store since Monday.

IKEA's promotion for the grand opening includes giving away free furniture to people who start standing in line up to 48 hours in advance of the opening. The first 40 people in line will get a free couch worth $399, the next 100 people will get a $69 chair. On Thursday, the second day the store will be open to the public, IKEA will give the first 40 people a $299 mattress and the next 100 people $59 towards home delivery.

Mike Calasnic / Creative Commons, Flickr

Shopping malls across the city and across the nation are closing their doors or re-imagining their futures. With the recent closure of Metro North and a meeting called to gather community input on redevelopment possibilities for Metcalf South, Central Standard convened local experts to look back on the significance of the shopping mall, in our city and in our lives. 

Laura Ziegler

Black Friday was  ….well… Thanksgiving Thursday as many stores opened their doors for the holiday shop-a-ganza anywhere between 3 and 9 p.m.

I went out to Best Buy and Wal Mart at 10:30 p.m. expecting to find the fabled Black Friday frenzy. Instead, I found what looked to be a pretty typical Saturday or Sunday’s parking lot and customer traffic.

The craziness, I was told, happened earlier in the day.

Running low on Two Buck Chuck? If so, it may be time for a Trader Joe’s run.