Archive for Thursday, April 21, 2005

Italian vocation

New business brings Mediterranean style to downtown De Soto

April 21, 2005

This weekend, De Soto became the place to shop for Italian antiques in the metropolitan area.

That unexpected happenstance came with the opening of Round Trip Imports in downtown De Soto.

The store's owner, Mary Lies of Olathe, said the location was excellent for a business that didn't depend on walk-up traffic.

"I sell mostly to interior designers, looking for unique items," she said. "They know where to find me."

Before moving to De Soto, Lies operated the business out of a storage site in Olathe. But she wanted a store. The difficulty was finding a place with enough space at a reasonable price.

"I looked everywhere," she said. "I looked in Lee's Summit, Lawrence, downtown Kansas City. Everywhere."

Her search brought her to De Soto when Lies stumbled across the former Kill Creek Pub only to find that it had just sold. Her frustration ended when she ran into Pat Atchison, who said she had space available.

Since acting on that news, Lies and her friends and family have been busy remodeling the store at 83rd St. The floors were sanded and refinished, the front windows opened up and the walls painted with a faux stonewall finish that accentuates the store's wares.

"I knew we did it right when someone came in and said, 'Don't do anything to the walls," she said. "She didn't know it took a lot of work to get it to look like that."

No work was needed get the right get the right atmosphere from the pressed tin ceiling, which was likely installed a century ago.

"What better place for this business than in building that is itself an antique?" she said. "One of the things that attracted me was the history of the building."

Although professional designers drive her business, Lies welcomes the causal walk in shopper. The store's opening has attracted local interest.

Kids and teenagers used to the storefront's blacked-out windows have been peeking in to see what is happening, and adults have entered surprised that of store of its kind opened in De Soto.

"Everybody has been so wonderful," Lies said.

Those entering the store will find amours, desks, tables and other furniture, urns and platters of bright Mediterranean colors, salvaged architectural items like lamps, old maps, and many other unique items. Most are from Italy, but she does have some from Spain, Lies said.

The items are purchased during one of her four-times-a-year trips to Italy, an enviable necessity for the business.

"It's tough," she joked. "I travel to Tuscany and antique stores in rural areas."

For the antique lover, buying and selling are labors of love. But, Lies said, the latter involved some drama.

"I love all the pieces," she said. "I hate to part with any of them. But I'm comforted by knowing they've going to places where they will be appreciated."

The store is open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and on appointment. Lies said she the other days aren't free but used to deliver the goods sold.

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