Highwoods Properties approached the brewery about building an expanded gift-shop concept in the empty retail space on Broadway in exchange for a percentage of the holiday revenue.
"This sounded like an interesting experiment," says Boulevard's Director of Marketing Jeremy Ragonese. "We've had a gift shop for almost the entire existence of the brewery, and the Plaza is one of the premier destinations in Kansas City."
The dry-goods store will feature shirts, winter jackets and merchandise not currently available in the gift shop inside the brewery's facilities off Southwest Boulevard. In addition to its own items, Boulevard is in talks with local crafters about stocking their goods — jean shirts from Baldwin Denim, posters and coasters from Hammerpress and jewelery from Scarlet Garnet. While Ragonese knows this is a bit of a departure for Boulevard — the shop won't sell beer — he looks to the example of other breweries that have opened merchandise-only stores.
"The Alaskan Brewing Co. has a store in a spot where a lot of cruise ships come and visit, a destination point for tourism," Ragonese says. "We believe we have a close connection to the city, and with the capacity for tours being limited, this is a chance for us to welcome folks to Kansas City."
The store will be open seven days a week. The hours have not yet been finalized. Likewise, Boulevard is still considering exactly what the store means for its merchandise department.
"It's a temporary store. It's our first time doing this, and we're extremely excited," Ragonese says. "We just want to see how it goes."
There is precedent for Boulevard staying on past the holidays. Natasha's Mulberry & Mott, one of last year's seasonal shops on the Plaza at 4745 Central, became a permanent addition after the 2011 holiday season.