Although Will and Shelby Perry had put down roots in Atlanta, their frequent visits to K.C. for Will’s job in IT sales struck a chord with the couple. After moving to the city last fall, the avid antiquers decided to inquire about opening a booth in the West Bottoms. By July 2016, the duo expanded their booth into Varnish + Vine, a showroom that now boasts unique furniture and accessories that are a designer’s delight.
What can customers expect to find in Varnish + Vine?
SP: We have everything from primitive to midcentury modern. We like blending styles. We like to have a space where somebody looks at a vignette and says, “Wow, I would never think to put that together, and it looks amazing.” We carry a lot of plants and greenery in the shop, too. We like organic and natural textures and how they soften rooms. Our store is set up like a showroom floor. It’s a retail shop, but instead of having vendors, we style the entire shop.
What sets Varnish + Vine apart from other West Bottoms shops?
WP: We pride ourselves on having unique items that you wouldn’t find elsewhere. We do consignment of product. We work with local artisans and sell their custom pieces, from furniture to lighting. From a social responsibility standpoint, we want to grow along with the rest of the community. We all grow together if we work together. The consignment model works with what we’re doing; we don’t want people to walk in the store and make a beeline to the back left corner because a particular style of chair is always there.
What has the response from customers been like?
SP: “I want to live here.” That’s the number one thing people say, and that’s what we want. We want you to be able to look at our space and say, “I can see this in my house exactly how it is.” What’s really cool for me is seeing a 17-year-old high school student come in and get excited about a cool vase with a succulent, all the way up to a 90-year-old who thinks the store is just as cool. It kind of transcends all generations, which means that we’re doing something right. We’re not trendy. We’re making styling translatable to everyone.
Each month you feature local makers in your shop for a Varnish Exchange. Why is that important to you?
WP: We’re new to the industry, so it affords us an opportunity to network and connect with like-minded individuals. As we get deeper into this makers, retail and antique scene, we find that in doing the exchange, we’re helping individuals share ideas and best practices. We’re not creating leather handbags, but our vendors are, and I know they’ve talked with other makers through the exchange that have been able to provide advice. It’s the best way to build a sustainable community of local talent.
“That’s the cool thing about the exchange: The artisans stand in front of their product and tell their story,” Will says.
The West Bottoms shop has featured fashion designers, jewelry makers, woodworkers and photographers at the monthly event.
“We really developed the concept of Varnish + Vine to be a platform for a lot of artisans to be able to launch their product,” Shelby says.
Nov. 5 will be the shop’s third Varnish Exchange, where customers will also be able to enjoy beer and coffee tastings.