By Kevin Collison
Katie Mabry van Dieren is bringing Strawberry Swing’s flair for helping makers of all kinds prosper to a permanent location, opening Friday (June 25) at 3630 Main along the planned streetcar route.
“This location is amazing,” said van Dieren, founder of Shop Local KC and the Strawberry Swing Indie Craft Fair.
“It’ll be off the streetcar route and I wanted to be in Midtown. I build everything grassroots style felt we needed a place here.”
The new 6,000 square-foot Shop Local KC includes not only space for 30 makers at a time to display their wares, but also has studio space for 10 artists. A grand opening is scheduled Friday from noon to 7 p.m.
The shop is located in a small retail strip with its own off-street parking lot next door to the Kansas City Armory building. The historic armory is slated to be renovated and van Dieren said the developers approached her about the the adjoining space.
They approached her at a good time.
The Strawberry Swing Indie Craft Fair she founded in 2011 had been doing very well up until the time Covid hit. A two-day holiday season fair at Union Station in 2019 had attracted 20,000 people and sold $3.5 million in merchandise made by local makers.
In 2020, during the pandemic, van Dieren attempted to sustain those makers by selling online, offering products made by 300 different local makers.
“But I realized I had to figure out a way for these people to sell in person again,” she said.
A modified outdoor holiday fair over several weekends at Union Station last December attracted 14,000 people and sold roughly the same amount of goods as the previous event the year before.
Then Caleb Buland and Ilan Salzberg of Exact Partners approached her about the space next door to the old Armory. Van Dieren knew the pair through the Troost Market Collective and Troostapalooza.
“The said they believed in me,” she said.
Van Dieren’s journey to being a patron and promoter of the Kansas City area maker scene was circuitous. After graduating from Kansas State with a journalism degree and minor in French, she lived in the Provence region of France and then New Zealand.
She then took a job as a paralegal for 12 years before launching Strawberry Swing 10 years ago.
“It’s my passion to help others start small businesses,” she said.
Van Dieren ultimately would like to offer classes at Shop Local KC in areas including jewelry making and flower arranging, and also offer those activities as vehicles for birthday parties and other festive occasions.
The shop hours will be Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Sundays.
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