Hello iFamily Readers!
I’m thrilled to have been asked to be a guest writer for the iFamily blog this week! My only concern is whether I’ll be able to convey my true passion for my topic without sounding like an infomercial. I handle the marketing for Park Place, a shopping and dining destination in Leawood, Kansas. We’re tucked behind Nall Avenue and 117th Street, just north of AMC Theater. If you have not yet experienced Park Place, you may be surprised by the nostalgic tugs as you stroll down the charming streets of “Main Street USA.”
This is where it’s hard to separate fancy marketing lingo from my real feelings. Maybe this place means so much to me because it reminds me of my childhood. My grandparents lived in Sedalia, Missouri and even though we had everything we could ever need in Kansas City, it was such a thrill to be invited on a big shopping trip to downtown Sedalia! It wasn’t the location or the clothes, it was the people. It was the experience. All of the shop owners knew my grandparents personally and they talked forever before the shopping even commenced.
I see that happen every day here – in the clothing stores, the flower store, the toy store, the salons and the fitness facilities. Local business owners dedicate their life to every aspect of their business, from the research, to the buying, then – their favorite part – making a customer feel their best. Since I’ve started working here and began witnessing the hard work and dedication of these owners, I have practically given up all mall shopping. My family is in shock. I know it’s sometimes more affordable and more convenient, but you will never experience the level of appreciation and personal service than when you buy local.
And that’s just the people! It’s the ambiance that will make your whole family feel good. When I started, the developers, Jeff Alpert and Melanie Mann, told me about the details they put into the site – the width of the streets, the height of the buildings, the lighting, the architecture, the landscaping – everything to create a warm, safe and inviting atmosphere for families. It’s that type of “inside information” visitors will never have to think about – but they will feel it – and it makes me so proud to work here.
Let me paint you a picture. The two main streets are lined with lush trees and bright, bold flowers in the spring, summer and fall. This time of year, leaves are replaced with twinkling lights that dance as you stroll past them. Barkley Square, the centerpiece park that holds concerts and picnics in the summer, is now replaced with an ice skating rink. Many people comment that it has a European feel. Whether it’s European or circa 1950’s, it’s fun, it’s beautiful and it just feels good.
Speaking as a single mom of a teenager, I’m fortunate enough now to experience occasional date nights but I do remember a time not long ago when they were few and far between. Whether you’re an unofficial restaurant critic or your last date included the option of super-sizing fries, all moms know the importance of making every free moment count, because you never know when the next child-free moment will be. For just that reason, Park Place has 15 restaurants and specialty food stores that provide the ideal romantic escape. One man — yes, I said man — described his Park Place perfectly to my friend. He said it was a “hand-holding” place. Need I say more?
If you haven’t already experienced Park Place, I have the perfect reason to try it now. On Saturday, November 15th, we’re holding our annual Holiday Open House. We’ll have free (that’s not a typo) horse-drawn carriage rides from 1-3pm, strolling Dickens carolers from 2-4pm, ice skating and some great sales and fun activities from the stores and restaurants. Plus, if you spend $100 or more at any Park Place merchant on this day, you can pick up a free Poinsettia at Rosehill Gardens. That’s a $50 value, for free.
This is the perfect time to experience the charm and unique character of Park Place. If not sooner, be sure to come by mid-February to visit “The Ice,” the only outdoor ice skating rink in South Johnson County. When you’re out there skating with your family and it’s snowing those fat, beautiful snowflakes on a not-so-freezing day, you will swear you just entered a Norman Rockwell painting. And don’t we all long for those brief moments? Whether it’s for our Open House, later this winter or someday down the road, I hope you will bring your family and experience all that Park Place has to offer – you may even take your own trip back in time.