Shopping in Downtown Joplin

I’m overwhelmed by the choices presented before me in seemingly endless rows: waffle cutout sandals with a sculpted heel, sassy fringed booties, dainty ballet slippers, plus sleek and sophisticated heels, all representing stylish footwear brands like Naughty Monkey, Chinese Laundry, Volatile, and Jessica Simpson.

 

sophie shoes

wish I were an octopus.

 

To my right, there’s a flurry of fringe and rivets, interspersed with bright patterns and sparkles from the selection of handbags made by hip companies like Big Buddha, Steve Madden, and Urban Expressions.

 

sophie handbags

 

My desire to possess multiple appendages continues. How else could I possibly wear all of the shoes and handbags I see here?

 

This is my typical experience each time I visit Sophie (531 South Main Street). Originally known as the “candy store for shoe addicts,” Sophie has added handbags, accessories, and even clothing to its offerings, including dresses, outerwear, and quality denim, making it a candy store for overall fashionistas.

 

sophie clothing

 

While Sophie offers big-city style, you won’t find big-city price tags here. At Sophie, fashion is affordable. Between reasonable everyday prices and hard-to-pass-up seasonal sales, this boutique has become my go-to place when I need to update my closet.

 

Expect to spend some time here, especially if you come with friends. Chances are, each of you will be trying on something at some point, making a visit to Sophie turn into a mini fashion show. This is exactly what happened when my friends and I recently spent the afternoon shopping downtown.

 

Were we exhausted after our trip to Sophie?

 

Yes!

 

Were we finished with our shopping trip?

 

Heck, no! We were just getting started.

 

We walked a block south on Main Street to Blue Moon Boutique (613 South Main Street), a “modern boutique with a vintage soul.” I actually consider this store more of a market, because in addition to apparel and accessories, there’s also furniture and home decor.

 

blue moon moon star

 

Blue Moon’s clothing section is located in the rear of the store, meaning that we had to first walk through the store’s home decor/gift section. Thanks to this brilliant store layout, I found something that reminded me of my mother and mentioned this to my friends.

 

blue moon pig

 

“How does this remind you of your mother?” asked my appalled friend Carrie.

 

“Because my mother collects pigs,” I explained, much to her relief.

 

And isn’t that pig painting cute? I’d found the perfect gift for my mom, and before our trip to Blue Moon, I’d never even known it existed!

 

blue moon jewelry

 

I got sidetracked a couple more times as I meandered my way back to the apparel section. First I looked at the jewelry from the international company Lokai (my daughter collects these beaded bracelets), and then the handcrafted, one-of-a-kind jewelry from local Dalissa Designs.

 

 

blue moon paint

 

Then I saw the rows of Junk Gypsy paints cleverly displayed on brightly-colored repurposed furniture (which is also for sale). I’m currently repainting anything that doesn’t move in my house, so knowing that Junk Gypsy paints are available at Blue Moon may be a bit dangerous for me.

 

blue moon canopy

 

We finally made it to the back of the store and browsed through clothing from brands like Black Swan and Z-Supply. We even tried on more shoes, which is hard to believe after our trip to Sophie. But Blue Moon carries Yellow Box flip flops and, come on, who doesn’t love a pretty, jazzed-up flip flop?

 

Our next stop was Urban Art Gallery (511 South Main Street), which features pieces made by local artists. If you are shopping for a unique gift, this is another great place to look. When I see something here that I like, I usually send a photo of it to my family so that they have an idea of what to get me when my birthday rolls around.

 

I’m helpful like that.

 

Despite my efforts, I still keep waiting to open the package that contains this cute “Fairy Dog Mother” by artist Kim Guthrie that I thought, for sure, my family would present to me on Mother’s Day:

 

first-thursday-kim-guthrie

 

Oh, well. My half-birthday is coming up.

 

Another artist that sells her work at Urban Art Gallery is Kristin Girard, the jewelry artist/scientist behind Kristin’s Laboratory, and one of my favorite local artisans.  Nearly every time I walk into the gallery, I’m wearing a piece that she has made.

 

kristins-lab-compass

One of my favorite works of hers is a necklace with this pendant, an antique compass that she found locally.

 

Urban Art Gallery changes its displays often, so there’s always something new, fresh, and local to be found here.

 

The next stop on our shopping trip was Newton’s Jewelers (428 South Main Street) where we had a fun time looking at and trying on glimmering vintage and estate jewelry pieces.

 

Since 1914, this family-owned and operated Joplin institution has been providing its customers with fine jewelry and watches. Don’t think you have to have three months of paychecks saved up before you visit Newton’s; we saw several affordable pieces, and Carrie came so very close to bringing home some vintage bling.

 

When we finished our shopping adventure, we stopped at downtown’s Spiva Park (Main and Fourth Streets) to take advantage of the warm, sunny day and to chat a while longer while we let our feet rest.

 

spiva park
This was a well-spent afternoon.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Shopping in Joplin

Shop ‘til you drop at boutiques, antiques and specialty shops alongside big box stores

by Christine Smith

 

“What in the world is THAT?”

 

My sister’s eyes were as wide as saucers as she stared out of the car window in disbelief.

 

Her reaction brought a satisfied smile to my face. We’d barely reached the city limits of Joplin and already my worldly sibling from the Windy City was impressed.

 

I’d picked Karen up this morning from the Tulsa Airport. After hopping on I-44, we chatted continuously, passing mile after mile of expansive grassy pastures when—BAM!—there it was.

 

A stately French chateau surrounded by sprawling, well-manicured gardens.

sandstone exteriorSandstone Gardens

 

She couldn’t have been more surprised had she seen a giant jack-in-the-box spring forth from the pastoral southwest Missouri terrain.

 

“That’s Sandstone Gardens,” I told her. “And you can shop there.”

 

I couldn’t wait to show her that shopping in Joplin was more than just stocking up on basic goods at the big-box stores that are visible from I-44.

 

Shopping at Joplin’s local stores offers an authentic and surprisingly sophisticated experience for anyone, even those who have access to the best stores in the world, like my sister.

 

I couldn’t wait to prove it to her.

 

Sandstone Gardens

Our shopping adventure began here. On the outdoor patio, we wandered past tiered lion’s head fountains, classical statues, and decorative cast-stone garden benches, and imagined that we were the ladies of Downton Abbey getting ready to enjoy a spot of afternoon tea in the garden.

 

unique sandstone_thumb_thumb

Sandstone Gardens

Venturing inside the 50,000-square-foot showroom, the sweet scent of honeysuckle potpourri greeted us, beckoning us down a long, narrow hallway lined with candles and richly-scented lotions, and leading us to the grand, two-story atrium where dramatic silk floral arrangements and stately home décor pieces vied for our attention.

 

After shopping for a while, I knew I needed to get some sustenance in her to fuel up for the next store, so I led her to the Bistro.

 

This cozy restaurant is conveniently located in a corner of Sandstone Gardens. My sister ordered a great-looking salad and I ordered the Reuben sandwich (the best in town!) We each ordered cake for dessert: moist German chocolate for her, and tart lemon-berry for me.

 

Boutiques
Bellies full, we were ready to do some clothes shopping. In addition to being a savvy shopper, Karen also studied fashion design, so she has a keen eye when it comes to clothing and accessories.

I knew exactly where to take her: the chic boutiques on Joplin’s historic Main Street.

I went straight for her Achilles heel (sorry for the pun) by taking her to Sophie, the “candy store for shoe addicts.” I gave her some space as she paid reverence to the offering of footwear presented before her: rhinestone-studded cowboy boots, flirty ankle boots, daring stilettos, comfortable wedges, playful flats – you name it.

 

While she tried on pair after pair, I browsed through the rest of the store and was suddenly faced with a dilemma: Did I dare show my sister Sophie’s wide selection of fashion jewelry and scarves, as well the boutique clothing section? If so, we might never leave. If not, she’d miss out on some unique finds.

 

I chose to be a good sister (or enabler—however you look at it) and led her to roam freely.

 

Once I was able to corral her, we crossed Main Street and stopped at Upstairs Boutique. Because it’s a designated Brighton Heart Store, Upstairs Boutique carries an expanded selection of the brand’s items, from jewelry to luggage, so it was the ideal place for Karen to look for a new charm to add to her Brighton bracelet.

 

Our next stop was Blue Moon Boutique, “a modern boutique with a vintage soul.”

 

Cleverly-placed vintage door frames and signs on the exposed brick walls create a whimsical backdrop for the merchandise here. On the floor, trendy necklaces and bracelets hang like ornaments from home décor pieces that are displayed on vintage dressers and tables—which you can buy, too!

 
“How fun is this place?” Karen asked as we worked our way to the boutique clothing section. By that point, even my hands were filled with wonderful treasures, like a smooth leather wrap bracelet and an antiqued metal sign sporting a sassy saying that I know my friend will love.

 

Next door at the equally playful Six Eleven Boutique,  Karen immediately noticed the brightly-colored umbrellas dangling from the antique copper ceiling and said, “You’ve got some pretty funky stores here in Joplin.”

 

In her world, that’s a colossal compliment. As a seeker of cutting-edge clothing and accessories, my sister had just put her stamp of approval on Joplin as a shopping destination.

 

That was huge.

 

As I tried on a flirty, ruffled tunic dress from Lazy Noiz I could hear her talking excitedly with the salesperson, but the only word I could make out was “Oprah.” When I came out of the dressing room, I walked over to the display where she was slathering some lotion on her hands.

 

boutiques blue moon mix_thumb

Blue Moon Market

“These are on Oprah’s list,” Karen said, excitedly pointing to the bottles of Farmhouse Fresh products in front of us. “This is the only place in Joplin that carries them.”

 

It was fun watching how quickly my sister became an ambassador of the Joplin boutique scene.

Next stop, a treat for the palate.


Local Flavor

We drove just a few blocks to Candy House Gourmet. Inside, the air was infused with the scent of sweet cocoa, causing us to practically drool as we painstakingly looked through the selection of handmade chocolates. Karen finally chose a chocolate toffee while I savored a decadent sea salt caramel.

 

I told Karen that we’d have to come back to Candy House Gourmet to take a tour of the factory when we had more time. Then, we’d be able to watch the candy-making process in action (and try some samples!).

 

Driving back to my house, Karen asked if there were places in Joplin that sold healthy food (we strive for a balanced diet, and the more healthy food we can eat, the more chocolate we can savor). I assured her that there several.

 

If she was craving a bite of what’s in season, we’d check out the local fruits, vegetables, honey, and other edibles at the Joplin Empire Market or the Webb City Farmers Market.


Vintage Finds

On our next shopping outing, we’ll explore Joplin’s vintage shops and flea markets for more uncommon finds. I know Karen will swoon over the chic, repurposed items sold at Simply Vintage (like an orange-painted distressed vintage phonograph cabinet), and she’ll certainly get a kick out of the primitives at Country Pickins Antique Mall (like a lampshade crafted from an old stovetop toaster).

 

Candy-House-Case_thumb

Candy House Gourmet

For a hefty dose of thriftiness and quirkiness, we can scour through rows of booths at traditional flea markets like Fancy Flamingo Flea Market and  Rangeline Antique Mall. Items I’ve found in the past at these places include superhero collectibles, milk glass pieces and a peculiar bust of Elvis Presley (which I just can’t get out of my mind).

 

Northpark Mall
Of course, if Karen wants to shop at more familiar stores, we can stop at Northpark Mall, where there are more than 100 retailers, including Macy’s, Sears, J.C. Penney, and T.J. Maxx, or at other national chains located near the mall, like Pier One Imports, Kohl’s, and Target (with a fresh grocery section and a Starbucks inside).

 

But right now, I’m going to get some rest.

 

Because I know that my early-bird sister will wake me at dawn tomorrow, anxious to discover more local treasures.

 

And that makes me feel so proud of my little city and the people who have chosen to open up their businesses here. Because of their originality, character, and friendliness, our local stores impress even the savviest of shoppers.

 

I can attest to that.

 

Check out Joplin shops for inspiration on your next shopping outing!

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.