The Brookside Shops is over 100 year old, and generations have cherished the businesses and employees, and experiences and celebrations shared here. It's likely why so many feel the shops are part of their home and connect so deeply with our history. We hear stories about first jobs, first dates, proposals, after-hours gatherings, favorite restaurants and stores, kids growing up, generations of small businesses, moving away and coming back, reunions, parades, art shows, family gatherings, goodbyes, and so much more. We love that the shops mean so much to so many. One way we connect with people that love the shops is through our history. Whether you're new to the Brookside Shops or not, we hope you'll enjoy some fun facts and share them with others.
Did you know that the Brookside Shops has fostered generations of employees becoming business owners?
Two recent examples – Brookside Toy & Science and barre3. Holly Pollard, owner of Brookside Toy & Science, started working at Brookside Toy & Science in 1999. She knew, early on, that this was the place she wanted to come every day for the rest of her life. So, it was no surprise she bought the business when she had the opportunity 20 years later in 2019. She works hard to continue the legacy of an incredible selection and exceptional customer service. She hopes that everyone who comes to visit the store can feel her energy and genuine appreciation for the customers.
Natalia Stamm, Studio Owner of barre3, was the founding instructor at barre3 Kansas City when it opened in Brookside in 2017. She fell in love with the business and Brookside and took over as owner in 2019. One thing she loves most is how connected Brookside is. Brookside feels like a small town in the big city – it’s a walkable neighborhood with services neighbors need like lots of restaurants, shopping, and specialty stores.
Which shopping center opened first, The Brookside Shops or the Country Club Plaza?
Both are recognized for their architecture and history, but many assume the Plaza was developed first as a logical continuation of growth that started in downtown Kansas City and continued south. In fact, the Brookside Shops came first, breaking ground in 1919 on the northeast corner of Sixty-third Street and Brookside Boulevard where Bank Midwest now stands. On September 1, 1919, the headline of the Country Club District Bulletin read “Construction Begun on Frist Group of Neighborhood Shops at Sixty-Third and Brookside Boulevard.” The Brookside Shops was designed as a key element of the Country Club District, a community master plan started in 1905. The Country Club Plaza project did start until 3 years later with an announcement in April 1922 and construction starting that Spring.
Did you know Brookside small businesses prioritize supporting our community?
According to a recent survey, small businesses donate 250% more than larger businesses to local non-profits and community causes, and a staggering 75% of small business owners donate an average of 6% of their profits to charitable organizations annually. As of 2019, 81% of small businesses planned on giving back to their community. Businesses in the Brookside Shops embody these same priorities. One example – A Store Named STUFF, a small but well-loved family business. They have an expansive program that supports local charities, schools, and not-for-profit organizations. Beyond that sisters and owners Sloane and Casey Simmons both serve on community organization boards of directors and have committed time, expertise, and money to over a hundred charities.
What came first, the Brookside Shops, mass produced cars, or the first electric automatic traffic signal?
Brookside broke ground in 1919 and the first shops opened in 1920. Cars were being mass produced prior to Brookside developing and the first electric automatic traffic signal wasn’t developed until 1923. Although most Kansas Citians didn’t own automobiles in 1919 and the shops would have access by trolleys, Brookside was designed from the beginning to embrace cars. Although not dominating like today, autos were a viable mode of transportation and becoming more and more common. Brookside was ahead of its time and was designed as a walkable shopping center with a vision for convenient auto access. The Marie Antoinette Shop at 63rd Street and Brookside Boulevard pictured here, shows cars parked on the street out front and empty fields beyond. The shop was described as having “the most exclusive art gift line in Kansas City” in the November 27, 1920 edition of The Independent.
Did you know we have businesses that are 100% women owned and run?
Currently there are over 25 women owned businesses in Brookside. Shop Local KC, which opened Summer 2023, is 100% women owned and employed! Also, 95% of the artists and makers they support in the shops are also women. Hooray!
Want to learn more fun facts about the historic Brookside Shops? Read “The Brookside Story – Shops of Every Necessary Character” by LaDene Morton. The book, a well-researched history of the Brookside Shops, is available at local libraries or for sale at CVS and Westlake Ace Hardware in the Brookside Shops. The now updated 100th Anniversary Edition tells the history of arguably the nation’s first suburban shopping district built outside of a downtown area and unquestionably Kansas City's favorite shops. The book is full of facts that may surprise even the best of Brookside historians.