First Friday shopping goes virtual to help small West Bottoms businesses

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — April 3 marked the first Friday of a month in Kansas City since the stay-at-home order was announced and groups were limited to 10 or less to help combat the spread of COVID-19.

The monthly First Friday Festival draws thousands to the West Bottoms for food, fun and shopping. The 13 blocks and 22 warehouses that make up the district are home to the largest indoor vintage shopping experience in the nation.

And there’s no bigger time than the kick off to First Fridays in Spring with Bunnies in the Bottoms in April and Blooms in the Bottoms in May.

“It’s just a great festival we have every First Friday weekend. Unfortunately, now we can’t have it, so we are trying to do the best we can to still have the customers have that sense of normalcy,” said Rose Coville, owner of The Robin’s Nest.

So business owners decided they’d try to take the shopping side of First Friday virtual.

“We would normally have bands in the street and all those aromas of the food trucks going on and just a fun place to get out stroll, and we are just asking you to do that virtually for the next couple months while we keep everyone safe and healthy,” said Amber Arnett-Bequeaith, VP of the West Bottoms Entertainment District.

Businesses throughout the district posted new items for sale on Friday’s virtual vintage event at westbottoms.com.

The area has been closed to customers since the stay-at-home order started, but their inventory has been growing.

“We are packed, and then we have these wonderful vendors who are still bringing in stuff because they are bored at home, so they are painting in everything that they can hands on,” Coville said.

Some items are being shipped, others can be sanitized and picked up, while some purchases might just be tagged as sold until the stay-at-home order is lifted.

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