The shelving of Soap Bar in Westport wasn’t the end of a chapter — just a purposeful business shift, said Matt Bramlette, the Midtown maker behind Toilet Bombs and a variety of self-care products. .
“We took the look of Soap Bar and merged it with Mid Coast Modern. It was a total refresh,” explained Bramlette, who is co-owner of Mid Coast Modern and the Bear Soap Co. brand (which was formerly sold in the now closed Soap Bar) with her husband, Rick Leavitt.
Soap Bar announced its closure in April, moving the Bear Soap Co. brand to local Bramlette and Leavitt products, Mid Coast Modern, a few doors down Westport Road, and further engaging in wholesale opportunities through Made in KC, a curator and retailer of locally made products.
“We’ve incorporated a dedicated space at Bear Soap Co., as well as moved our entire workspace to the back of Mid Coast Modern,” Bramlette noted. “We also added a small apothecary section. It was a way for us to put more energy into less and not be too spread out. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into the renovation, so we’re excited for people to come and experience it.
The decision to close one of their stores came after a busy holiday period, Bramlette said, noting that Bear Soap Co. had accepted an offer to have space inside Made in KC Markets on the Country. Club Plaza and Lenexa.
Between operating two storefronts, the Bear Soap Co. brand, and then adding two new satellite locations, Bramlette and his team didn’t have enough time to prepare enough Bear Soap Co. inventory for what was needed throughout the holiday shopping season, he said. .
“By the time [the fourth quarter of the year] and Christmas shopping started, the amount of work was quite overwhelming,” recalls Bramlette. “…There were a lot of opportunities to sell more product if we could keep pace with production. We just didn’t anticipate how much the Made in KC locations would sell for, as we had never been there before.
With a drop in foot traffic in the Westport area since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it made sense to focus efforts on a single, intentionally designed storefront and the brand’s wholesale operations, Bramlette said. .
“The east side of Westport has a lot of open store space which is empty at the moment,” he said. “I’m on a community council in Westport, and we’ve been discussing how we can improve the look of the strip and attract more local businesses. All of this takes time, but we are actively looking. »
None of the Bear Soap Co. products have been discontinued since the move, Bramlette said; and customers are still welcome to visit the workspace at the back of the store, much the same way customers in the Soap Bar might watch and smell the fresh produce being made.
“It’s part of the experience that we think makes people happy to come to the store,” Bramlette said. “They always like to see all the ingredients, and we can explain the process of some of the things we make.”
Bramlette and his team should soon start offering bath bomb-making classes, he said.
“We’ve run bath bomb classes at both Made in KC Marketplace locations, and they’ve been really successful,” he explained. “It’s a really fun time to meet new people or do it with a group.”
This story originally appeared on Startland, another member of the KC Media Collective.