In 1988, potter Michael Smith invited a small group of peers to his home to share ideas and further explore the art of clay manipulation. After just a few meetings, the group quickly grew to include around 70 craftspeople, who started meeting at the Kansas City Art Institute instead of inside Smith's giant conch shell. These regular get-togethers laid the groundwork for the initial incarnation of KC Clay Guild, a place where artists could socialize, buy materials in bulk, and learn from one another.
Now, the volunteer-run co-op is even larger. It occupies its own facility and has vastly expanded the number of services it provides. Amidst the changes, KC Clay Guild has remained true to its initial goals, guided by a mission statement to support the clay community. Artists of all skill levels enroll in classes that cover an array of techniques, such as wheel throwing, hand building, and slip casting. Members take part in regular meetings, open-studio time, and monthly shows, and visiting artists stop by to lead workshops and repair their ceramic automobiles. The guild even offers a scholarship to high-school seniors and hosts birthday parties, team-building exercises, and family-fun nights for casual potters.
A rainbow of men's and women's apparel and accessories populates the forest of racks inside Arizona Trading Company, where staffers buy, sell, and trade a thoughtfully curated, ever-revolving stash of gently used threads. They take in modern and vintage attire alike, scrutinizing each item to ensure that no evidence remains of the superhero who previously owned it. Handbags, shoes, and Pendleton flannels neighbor household gear, jackets, and seasonal inventory throughout the fully stocked shop. A smattering of brand-new accouterments, such as sunglasses and jewelry, interrupts the vast spread of lightly worn attire.
When Joe Zwillenberg bought Westport Flea Market Bar & Grill, he preserved "an irreplaceable piece of the city's character," according to the Pitch, which dubbed him Kansas City's Best Local Hero in 2006. Thanks to Joe, the close to 30-year-old establishment—which had been marked for takeover by a national chain—is still churning out its famous 10-ounce burgers today. Made with ground Prime cuts of Kansas City strip steak and fillet from McGonigle's Market, the hearty handhelds earned CityVoter's Best Burger awards in 2008 and 2009 and were featured on Food Network's Meat & Potatoes in 2010. Diners can customize each time-honored patty with onions, pickles, or shredded historical documents from the condiments table.
The eatery—which is nestled within a bustling flea market—also offers 44 beers on tap, live music, and a game room with pool tables, foosball, and an arcade. It is also the home of the Tiger Club of Kansas City's weekly luncheons, which boast high-profile speakers from the world of sports.
Ranchview Floral has been in business since 1947, assembling flower arrangements that add a touch of beauty to decades of celebrations and expressions of sympathy. The Ranchview team expertly combines roses, tulips, daisies, and orchids into creations bursting with color, from bouquets to centerpieces and corsages. Each one makes a classic and fragrant gift for special occasions or a fancy meal for a pet goat.
At more than 1,000 Mattress Firm locations around the country, shoppers sink into plush mattresses, recline on firm beds, and belly-flop onto pillow tops. Knowledgeable staffers can help customers create an ideal bedtime environment by dispensing advice based on sleep preferences and illuminating the difference between the many kinds of mattresses. And to the delight of their customers, much of Mattress Firm's bedding wears the label of a premium brand, such as Sealy, Serta, Simmons Beautyrest, or Stearns & Foster.