By Kevin Collison
Chentell Shannon wants to keep the friendly, lively, enjoyable–in a word–“convivial” vibe of the former YJ’s Crossroads space when she opens her shop there May 1.
After all, Convivial is the name and spirit of the ceramics design and manufacturing firm she started in 2014.
Right now, it’s producing handmade products from its West Bottoms location that go out to more than 200 retailers around the country.
Her new venture at 128 W. 18th St. will be her first foray into retailing.
She’s calling her new place Verdant.
“Our vision is to create a neighborhood shop that fits into the neighborhood and becomes part of people’s daily or weekly routine,” she said.
Convivial makes products intended for the home, table and garden literally from scratch. The company makes its own clay from a special recipe, handcrafts the designs of its tableware, vases and pots, and then fires them on the premises.
“It’s a timeless style, very clean, simple and modern,” Shannon said. “Timeless is our key principal.”
She is thrilled to have the opportunity to open her first retail shop in the former YJ’s Snack Bar space in what’s known as the Monogram building. The property was sold to a new owner last spring, a move that prompted a Crossroads uproar.
YJ’s Snack Bar owner David Ford eventually relocated to a new location at 1746 Washington St. The space then was briefly occupied by Wheat Neighborhood Table.
Shannon said Convivial was approached by the new owner of the Monogram to see if her firm might be interested in the space.
“My husband and I loved YJ’s,” she said. “He grew up in Kansas City and I moved here five years ago.
“It was introduce to me as the hub of Kansas City and downtown. I was sad to see them leave, but I felt honored to be approached and we agreed to consider the space.”
Shannon originally is from Hawaii and went to school in Chicago for ceramics, community art and urban studies. That’s where she met her husband Stephen.
“He knew the vision I had to grow Convivial and said Kansas City was a uniquely supportive place for entrepreneurs and artists,” she said.
“After a year of living in Kansas City, I knew he was right – this city is a wonderful and unique place to start a business, especially one in the arts.”
As part of her effort to retain the YJ’s spirit, Verdant will feature the former cafe’s distinctive green wall and a couple of its built in window-sill benches.
On the outside storefront, distinctive diamond-shaped tiles that decorated the exterior are being replicated by Convivial.
The Verdant product line includes:
-Planter + Plant Pairings. All planters will be made by Convivial. The shop will provide pairing recommendation and on-site planting services.
-Mini Floral Bouquets. Each week mini bouquets swill be designed to fit bud vases that are handmade by Convivial. They will be available Friday mornings in limited quantities, until sold out. Botanical “punch” cards will be available – buy 10 bouquets, get the 11th free.
-Gift Wrapping. Verdant will provide full service gift wrapping to provide ready-to-go gifts including planters, candles, mugs, vases and flowers.
In addition, Verdant will introduce its own line of greeting cards designed in-house. And in another nod to conviviality, customers will be invited to sit down in the shop and have a cup of tea furnished by Verdant to write their notes.
“We want it to still be a place where people can sit and hang out,” Shannon said.
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