Now open: WillowZ Boutique and Graphics has whimsical mechandise and more variety of clothing
There is an air of delight walking into Willowz Boutique and Graphic Design with its wide variety of items for sale. Owners Karen Baird and Michael James have rebranded, redesigned, reformatted the former KT Graphics store into a boutique full of whimsical and unique items. A shopper can find a corner of merchandise just for men, a unisex clothing section, and a wall full of clothing and Myra handbags for women. There are baby items, as well as a display just for pets. Also on display are household décor, signs, jewelry, and blankets. Unusual candies are also offered, like freeze dried, melt-in-your-mouth taffy in an assortment of flavors like skittles, milk duds and popcorn.
Still located at 611 S. Main, Willowz continues to offer all that KT Graph- ics had to offer, as well. The shop does custom embroidery, screen printing, vinyl lettering, and promotional products. The shop keeps school clothing on hand for both Pratt and Skyline schools. Willowz can order letter jackets and patches which can be tailored to each student.
The shop can personalize some items in the baby section, pet area, as well as blankets and some signage in the boutique area. Joyce Korth, Pratt, and her daughter from Texas, always go shopping when they are together.
“We stumbled onto Willowz as we were shopping around the day before," Korth said. "I’m here to pick up two dog collars I had printed for my little dogs.”
The colorful collars for Jeter and Abby were customized with vinyl lettering.
“During downtime with COVID, we had an opportunity to decide what we wanted to do with the shop,” Baird said.
Because of the pandemic, big producers were buying in smaller amounts.
“We wanted to take the positive out of the situation,” James said.
The two were ready for the shop to evolve with the times and saw this as a time for a new adventure. The embroidery and printing equipment were moved to the back of the store. Display cases were found or built from furniture and other wood pieces Baird and James found on buying trips around Kansas and neighboring states. Old doors with glass window panes are the foundation of one display while antique wooden folding chairs are cleverly hung on the walls and used as shelves.
“We traveled far and wide to find ways to display our items and we put a lot of love into this store,” James said.
Buying trips took the pair to Missouri, Oklahoma, Denver and Dallas, looking for unique items to bring back to Pratt for sale. James, having no retail experience before, seems to have an eye for the unusual. An example is the clear, glass, horizontal tube with an indentation in it to hold a cell phone. The tube then becomes an amplifier for music played on the phone. James is especially proud of the men’s section and hopes to enlarge it over time.
Baird has been doing graphic design since 2005 when KT Graphics was opened. Though she had no formal training in graphic design, her creativity has been expressed in many forms over the years.
Baird and James believe their customers are appreciating the changes they have made after the rebranded store opened March 8. James, who enjoys working the front of the store, listens to comments customers make as they walk in and around the shop. People are also making positive remarks on their Facebook page.
The shop is gearing up for the summer season with ball-team uniforms and hats, Nurses Week and Teachers Day. The store has two other employees, Kim Evert and Kelley Maydew. All four can work the front or the back of the store, as needed. The shop offers a quick turn-around for personalized items.
“The name just sort of popped up.” James said, “I did an internet search and didn’t find much with the name Willowz with a ‘z’.”
Willowz Boutique and Graphic Design can be found on both Facebook and Instagram. Store hours are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. The store can be reached at (620) 672-6300 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.