My Kansas City // Tobe of Because It’s Awesome

Using all of my travel time to its fullest, while I was in Kansas City for a baby shower I also fit in a few My City features. Tobe and I became friends when I worked at Hallmark Cards. Lots of long lunches and afternoon breaks for shopping at Halls over the years (Hallmark owns Halls so we got a nice little discount). Tobe is a talented lettering artist and designer. She has a passion for interiors which you can see over on her blog Because It’s Awesome.

Bright and early on a Saturday morning, Tobe took me to Genessee Royale Bistro in the West Bottoms of Kansas City. This is an area of Kansas City that has recently had a mini-comeback as far as shopping, galleries, and restaurants. It is where all of the antique shops she goes to are, so it fit perfectly with the rest of her plans for me.

Cornmeal waffles topped with berries and syrup, yes please. Along with a healthy dose of morning coffee and cream and I was ready to shop.

The decor in Genessee Royale screamed Tobe… and antiquing. The perfect start to our day.

The West Bottoms started out as an industrial area, and in 1871 it turned into the better-known Kansas City stockyards. It is right on the Missouri River and Kansas River, so it unfortunately floods every so often, which is why it has always had difficulty continuously thriving. It is definitely in an upswing right now. It was packed with people shopping the antique shops all morning.

One of my other Hallmark friends, artist Amy Kligman, just happens to be an owner at a new gallery, Plug Projects, in the West Bottoms. So naturally Tobe and I stopped by. I was so glad I could see it while I was in town. I had no idea that anyone who contributed to Plug while they were raising money would be listed on the wall in the gallery, but there it was, my name on the wall. What a fun surprise!

This ethereal photo taken inside Plug was actually just my camera ignorance. However, I really like how the photo turned out, so we’ll go with that. The show currently at Plug was probably the perfect one for me and Tobe to see. “Dramatic Chromatic” — obviously I loved it.

We headed to one of the many antique shops that Tobe is a regular at. The shops in the West Bottoms are only open the first weekend of every month, so I lucked out on timing. Tobe was taking me up multiple stories of this somewhat creepy building like she owned the place. She knew where the good vendors were, how to approach them, when you could get the price lower, etc. Let’s just say she’s a pro.

I never thought about it, but these giant shops are perfect for ideas in general. The way this vendor hung all the globes together is genius. I feel a DIY coming on… who will do it? I’m not very DIY anymore… and globes aren’t really my thing, but I can totally see it in someone else’s place. Oooooo, a kid’s room!

These gorgeous glasses and bowls (I’m sure there are more proper terms that I don’t know, goblets?) whatever, they are French or something, and apparently the factory they were made in closed a long time ago so they are “rare”, meaning $50 per item. But they sure made for a stunning display.

Naturally I’m drawn to the art. These nude sketches with no mat and gold frame, hello, just yes. It’s a good thing my suitcase was packed to the brink, otherwise I would have thought long and hard about these babies. Tobe has many other secret antique shops she frequents in Kansas City that she has yet to divulge to many of us who drool over her finds. She says once her house is furnished she’ll tell us. Atta girl. Although, I’m not local anymore, so I think I could get it out of her.

Tobe scored two turquoise pieces (I believe turquoise is one of her favorite colors). The table she is carrying above was only $10, and an old perfume bottle thingy we pooled our cash for. It had to be bought.

We ended our adventure with a trip down to Glacé. A frequent stop of mine while I lived in Kansas City. Only a few years old, this artisan ice cream shop was opened by the local — yet famous — chocolatier Christopher Elbow. I have a total obsession with his No.6 Dark Rocks chocolate bar made with popping candy, you know from our childhood — Pop Rocks! Pop Rocks + Dark Artisan Chocolate = Chocogasm in your mouth! Not to mention it’s just plain genius.  

I have an indecision meltdown in frozen dessert shops like this… do I do chocolate/coffee, chocolate/fruity, chocolate/salty, fruity/fruity? You see my complex. I typically end up doing a chocolate and a fruity flavor EVERY time I get gelato or ice cream because I just can’t choose. I ended up getting the Christopher Elbow Dark Chocolate (heavenly) and the Blood Orange Sorbet. Not great mixed together, however they both were amazing. I’m obsessed with everything blood orange lately. If it’s on a drink menu, I don’t even need to see the rest of the menu. Tobe got the Blood Orange mixed with the Strawberry Lime — YUM! Perfect for the hot day it turned out to be. I have to stop talking about this now as my mouth is literally watering.

Let’s hear from Tobe:

Why did you take me to Genessee Royale, antiquing, Plug Projects and Glacé?
I am a huge supporter of local business, and all of these are tops on my list. Genessee Royale is everything the perfect breakfast/brunch should be; great food, plenty of space, loads of personality, and killer decor. Plug Projects is co-run by some good friends of mine with a serious knack for finding other talented artists that are pushing the envelope. Plus, you can’t deny that this mission is worthy of support. Antiquing is beyond a hobby for me. It’s bordering an obsession, and I would do it in all of my free time if I could. (Doesn’t hurt that I’m trying to furnish a house right now either.) Christopher Elbow’s Glacé is fun, fresh and boasts unique flavors. What the heck else could you ask for in an ice cream shop?

What are some of your other favorite places to eat and visit in KC and why or what do you HAVE to get when you go to them? 
I’m no foodie, but I do love to eat! Southwest Boulevard hosts many of the most amazing Mexican restaurants in the city, so you can find me there at least once a week (chicken enchiladas and fish tacos are my staples); Lulu’s Noodles (pad thai), Westside Local (devilled eggs, quinoa), Bluebird Bistro (killer tomato sandwich), Happy Gillis (soup!!!) and You Say Tomato (BLT, hummus) are all regular lunch spots during the week; La Bodega (any and all tapas, sangria), Kona Grill (sushi, duh) and Martini Corner are regulars on the happy hour rotation; and Eric and I love BRGR (the knob hill), Cafe Trio (crab cakes) and The Rieger (anything on the menu) for date night.

What are your favorite items in your home?
That’s so hard to answer! I’m a very emotional buyer, and I take great care in selecting items for my home. Rarely do I purchase without physically seeing and touching things; the presence, scale and tactile aspects of a piece must be spot on for me to bring it home. I also love love love items that have a history, especially those that have been passed down in my own family. The inherited pieces will always mean the most to me.

What got you into antiquing?
Probably the prices originally. Before it got so popular, you could nab gorgeous pieces at Craigslist prices.

What is your strategy when shopping at antique stores? 
I don’t know that I have a strategy per se. If I‘m shopping antique malls that I‘m already familiar with, I obviously start with my favorite booths. I tend to like pieces that are a little quirky, so I get lucky a lot. The items I take home aren’t generally popular or super trendy, so I just keep my eyes peeled for the stuff more or less hidden in the back, up high and down low that aren’t as easy for vendors to sell.