Another new retailer slated for 27th and Iowa intersection; seminar to help manufacturing start-up companies
I know I spend a lot of time figuring out what I’m going to wear to a KU sporting event. I have to figure out whether I’m more likely to drip nacho cheese sauce or ketchup on my chest, and then I have to color-coordinate appropriately. But my understanding is that females go through a bit different process. Now, there’s a new south Iowa Street store betting that KU women are looking for something different when it comes to game day apparel.
Sweet Tea and Caviar Boutique is set to open on Saturday in the shopping center on the northwest corner of 27th and Iowa streets. Owner Leslie Stauffer said her experience has been that women in other college markets have access to trendier game day clothing than what KU women have here.
“I grew up in southern Oklahoma, and game day dresses are really big down there,” Stauffer said. “There are tons of stores there that have really unique clothing for women. But when I go here, stores really just had the T-shirts. I didn’t find as many of the trendy items.”
Looking around at the store’s website, it looks like items will include a variety of KU dresses — long sleeve, short sleeve, with pockets, without pockets, tie neck, etc., etc., etc.. (Etc, of course, is Latin for an “extra hour of shopping.”) There are T-shirts too, including one brand that carries the tag line “Love me like you love football.” (OK, but we’re going to need more chips and nacho cheese sauce.) The store even has accessories like crocheted headbands, Mason jar beverage cups and a lot of jewelry.
The store also carries some gear from other schools, predominately Kansas State and Oklahoma State. The store, however, carries many items that aren’t branded collegiate merchandise but rather are just fashionable clothing that feature color schemes that women may like to wear to game day or other events.
The boutique also carries items that go beyond the game day theme. The store has a line of baby clothing and accessories, Among the baby lines carried is one called “bunch o’ bloomers” and “butterfly bloomers for fluttering bums.” The lines feature either big flowers or big butterflies strategically placed on the bottoms of baby pull-ups. (For heaven’s sake, I’m going to have to intentionally spill nacho cheese sauce on my shirt just to feel manly again after writing this article.)
“We try to carry a lot of cute stuff that you just won’t find at big box stores,” said Stauffer, who also owns the Something Blue Salon that is next door to the boutique.
The boutique, though, is located in the midst of Lawrence’s big box retailers. It is just across the street from the newly redeveloped shopping center that includes Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ulta, Chick-fil-A and coming soon The Boot Barn. In case you are confused about where the store is located, it is just west of the Hancock Fabrics store, and is near where the Douglas County Treasurer’s satellite office was located. (Don’t worry, the Treasurer’s office didn’t go out of business. As we previously have reported, it opened a satellite office in the retail building in front of Home Depot.)
The intersection of 27th and Iowa streets is becoming a significant retail and dining destination. (You may recall that Buffalo Wild Wings has located at the corner.) There certainly continues to be talk of the area around 25th and Iowa streets redeveloping with major retailers as well. Plus, as we’ve previously reported, the Tower Plaza shopping center already has filed plans to revamp itself, including modifications that will allow a Popeye’s chicken to locate near the intersection.
I think it will be a busy year for South Iowa Street. It is good to see that locally owned businesses are working to be a part of the corridor as well.
In other news and notes from around town:
• Maybe your dream for a local business is more along the lines of manufacturing. (Non-staining nacho cheese sauce, perhaps.) If so, the city, Kansas University and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce are teaming up to host a seminar on Friday that talks about starting a local manufacturing company.
Leaders with three Lawrence-based businesses that are involved with manufacturing in one form or another will provide insight and answer questions about the process. Steve Bradt of Free State Brewing Company, Ben Farmer of Alchemy Coffee & Bake House and Brad Russell of Hilary’s Eat Well all will be part of the event.
The event — part of the community’s Biz Fuel initiative, which aims to spur new start-up firms in Lawrence — is set for 11 a.m Friday at the Peaslee Tech training center, 2920 Haskell Ave.
There is no charge to attend the event, but people are asked to pre-register at this website.
I don’t think that's the smell of Olive Garden’s all-you-can-eat breadsticks in the air, but I can’t be certain. My wife is taking no chances: She’s digging out her massive breadstick-toting purse, and she is ordering me to dust off my dinner jacket with the really big pockets.
All of this is to say there is activity at the 27th and Iowa site that once was proposed to house the city’s first Olive Garden restaurant, until that deal fell apart when city commissioners balked at providing incentives for the restaurant chain.
A new development plan for the northeast corner of the intersection has been filed at City Hall. The plans call for a 12,700 square foot building to be constructed on the largely vacant site. Half the building would be devoted to a “high turnover sit down restaurant,” while the other half would be used for “general retail shops.” The plans don’t provide any specifics on the restaurant or the retailers that may be going into the location. In case you are having a hard time picturing the site, it is where the old Plum Tree Chinese restaurant used to be, and also the adjacent site where Mazzio’s Pizza used to operate years ago.
The developer — Mission-based MD Management — is the one who proposed the Olive Garden for the site in 2011. But these plans are different than the ones filed when Olive Garden was the proposed tenant for the site. The traffic study also notes the development will produce about 60 percent fewer motorist trips on any given day than the previous proposal. Those all may be signs that we’re talking about a different restaurant, but I don’t really know. Some folks who have insight into these sort of things seem to think that too. I’m doing some asking around, and I also have a call into MD Management.
At the moment, I haven’t seen anything that indicates the development company is seeking any sort of financial incentives, such as special taxing districts or property tax rebates, to develop the site. But I’ll keep my eyes open for that as well.
The property already has the proper zoning for restaurant and retail development, so most of the approvals needed from City Hall are relatively technical ones. Perhaps the answers will reveal themselves in fairly short order.
In the meantime, I have a feeling that since our breadstick garb has been unearthed, my wife and I will be making a trip to an Olive Garden. I just hope its never-ending pasta bowl promotion isn’t going on. You don’t want to know how she makes me smuggle out pasta and marinara sauce.