Situated in Kansas City’s Westport, Mid Coast Modern revels in its seeming simplicity: high, wooden ceilings overlook a warehouse-like space, where items ranging from jewelry to artwork to coffee cups are displayed for its customers. T-shirts basking in the Royals’ World Series win hang on a wall while artwork featuring images of Kansas City hang on another.
“I wanted this to be a design-centric store,” owner Matt Bramlette explains. “And opening this type of store was something that would make me happy.”
Mid Coast Modern—named for its support of artists and designers on the “mid coast,” a newer appellation for the Midwest—wants you to be happy by providing customers with goods that you don’t necessarily see elsewhere. Although it features many artists from both Kansas City and the Midwest in general, it also looks for items outside the area as well to give it a uniquely eclectic feel.
“I find items at craft stores, but also a lot on Instagram and Etsy,” Bramlette says, “and it’s always things that I like.”
A graphic designer by trade, Bramlette found himself unemployed after experiencing a lay-off, and when faced with returning to the dregs of job hunting, he decided to look elsewhere. He sat down and made a mental list of things that made him happy: design, architecture, food, traveling—all things that could be translated into a physical retail store.
That’s where the UMKC Small Business & Technology Development Center came in. After applying to the Missouri Workforce Program, Bramlette received a scholarship to attend entrepreneurial courses provided by the center, including Kauffman FastTrac NewVenture, a 5-week, intensive class that, essentially, teaches its participants the ins and outs of starting a business.
After graduating from Kauffman FastTrac NewVenture in February of this year, Bramlette admits that he left the course with doubts about starting his business. “The greatest takeaway was that it made me more aware of the harsh reality of starting a business,” he admits. “People aren’t going to come to you just because you’re there.”
Despite his doubts, plus a little luck, he found himself in possession of a perfect space for his store, and after a few more months of planning, Bramlette opened Mid Coast Modern for business in October.
“I was surprised by how much you can get done with not a lot of money,” Bramlette says when asked if anything surprised him about opening his own business. Surely a reassuring statement for other new entrepreneurs unsure if they can manage to start a business of their own.
Mid Coast Modern is still forming its identity, and Bramlette adds that they’re always looking for new merchandise—and even creating products of their own. Recently, he began making soap, testing recipes amongst family and friends. “Development of our own product lines could open up new avenues,” Bramlette says. “There are always other opportunities here.”
At the end of the day, it’s all about what makes you happy, and with that idea as the underlying aesthetic of Mid Coast Modern, it’s something any customer will appreciate when entering Bramlette’s little store in Westport.
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Store: 314 Westport Rd, Kansas City, MO 64111
(Article originally posted byUMKC Small Business & Technology Development Center)