KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A family-owned business that’s been in the Waldo neighborhood for more than half a century is shutting its doors.
Dave Smith the Lamp Maker has been a fixture on Wornall Road since 1968. The owners, Dave and Bette Smith, don’t want to close but, due to health reasons, they’re calling quits after 52 years in business.
“We didn’t really plan to drop it so quick like this, but we’d been talking for the last couple of years because we’re not young,” Bette Smith said. "[My husband’s] going to be 80, and I’m 72."
Bette said her husband knew very little about the lamp business when he first started. Dave had gone to school to be a banker.
“He basically started with probably 100 lamp shades, a box of parts and a cigar box as the cash register,” she explained.
Those humble beginnings eventually grew into Dave Smith the Lamp Maker -- a store known for repairing lamps, among other things.
“Dave took a real interest in lamps, the history and he especially liked the antique lamps,” Bette Smith said.
Dave, who has taken a bit of a backseat in recent years, was known for turning everyday pieces into unique lighting fixtures, including a saxophone, cowboy boots, a globe. He even turned a sewing machine into a working lamp.
“A lot of our customers are kids that grew up with their parents bringing them in and now we’re doing lamps for them,” Bette Smith said.
Dawn Gann-Smith has been a customer of the store for 20 years. She stopped by the store on Tuesday when she learned Dave and Bette were closing for good.
“It’s our neighborhood store,” Gann-Smith said. “There’s really nowhere else you can get your lamps repaired, get the finials and the harps. I mean, they practically build the whole lamp. It’s going to be missed.”
The Smiths said they will miss their customers and longtime employees the most, but closing is “bittersweet.” The lamp business isn’t like what it used to be. In fact, Bette said business started slowing down four years ago.
“We’re living more in a throwaway society, and they don’t think about that,” she said. “They buy things at IKEA or online, so they don’t think to get a new shade. They’ll just get rid of it.”
Now this mom-and-pop shop, “a shade better,” is weeks away from flipping the switch on the light that brought them so much joy for decades.
“I think we’ve made our mark here, and I think it’s a good thing and I hope they all still have good thoughts about us when we’re gone,” Bette Smith said.
Dave Smith the Lamp Maker will officially close its doors on Jan. 31. The store is offering a 50% discount on remaining items.