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First Friday Weekends in the West Bottoms

A Treasure to Be Discovered

Article by Mindy Hargesheimer

I ūüĖ§ First Friday Weekends¬†in the West Bottoms; it's one of my all-time favorite local things to do that gives you an entirely different perspective, and appreciation, for this city, its makers, and our great culture! It's Kansas City's most historic neighborhood, and it's loaded with character and experiential potential!

My philosophy on Kansas City has always been this: You can achieve the cultural, international, delicious, beautiful, and stimulating adventure you seek from an out of town trip right here in your own home town if you just take the time to seek it out, or follow along my journey to bring you to the city's most fulfilling destinations. Skip the flight and packed bags; just grab your keys, hop on a Bird, or pull out the bus pass and get on your way to a three-day adventure, once a month: This is First Friday Weekend in Kansas City's West Bottoms District!

The West Bottoms is towering with history, including its industrial and somewhat haunting architecture that is currently thriving with revitalization, thanks to the Kansas City Renaissance occurring. Once this Midwest's primary stockyards district, the West Bottoms commercial space is filled with vintage artifacts, faded commercial logos adorning 10-story walls, a walkable, urban atmosphere, and all the gritty graffiti and street art you'd want out of an aged neighborhood.

And at the same time, brilliant entrepreneurs are transforming these incredible spaces by preserving some the landmark's finest original elements, while modernizing the spaces to accommodate new retail, food, furniture, and gift spaces. From coffee shops, haunted houses, salvage yards, food trucks, live music, and furniture and decor curators, First Fridays in the West Bottoms occurs, you guessed it, the First Friday of each month through Sunday evening. And you don't want to miss the one-of-a-kind pieces added each month!

Most recently, we spent a ton of time at one of my all-time favorite shops, Bella Patina, eating some of the best pulled pork and chicken tacos + Cuban sandwich we have ever gotten our hands on from third floor @painted_rooster with live music on the side. Do yourself a favor and go at your next opportunity to enjoy this tasty break in your brewing day. With the infinitely cool kid @thou_mayest on mobile hand serving up caffeine and pastries to shop goers, it was the perfect October weather weekend to soak up the festive (and appropriately spooky) vintage offerings all throughout @bellapatinakc's industrial three floors of some vintage, some contemporary, furniture and decor. Bella Patina always keeps it festive and thematic with their holiday decor greeting you at the interior foyer, this time complete with more limbless and frightening dolls than I could shake a witch's broom at.

Bella Patina is the pioneer retail space within the West Bottoms, with 'Vintage Revival' as their designated motto. And at any given time, 75 vendors amongst three floors and 25,000 square feet are offering their unique, restored finds and creations. The reason Bella Patina doesn't remain open outside of First Fridays is to grant their partners the time needed to hunt far and wide for the greatest vintage treasures they know the West Bottoms audience will anticipate and desire. And speaking of audience, individuals from a variety of generations and regional markets make the local out-of-state trek in to shop their hearts out, each excited for what antique surprises will catch their eye.

Despite the primarily vintage aspects, local makers in Kansas City are a huge component of Kansas City's retail and #supportlocal scene, and you'll find a selection of newly crafted items, like T-shirts, wall art, and jewelry to add into the shopping mix.

As you navigate your way up, down, and around Bella Patina, your heart and soul start absorbing some piece of history that others before you may have cherished, and it then becomes your turn to give each piece a new home, with a new story to tell.

Shoutout to the Bella Patina founding families that have created the West Bottoms' longest standing retail space, turning customer by customer into more joyful and happy souls!

Follow Mindy Hargesheimer @kansascitybucketlist