Interior designer Michael Cole opened his first gift shop 7 years ago in downtown Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City. The General Store + Co. has two locations now and is the go-to shop for all things trendy and unique. Along with being a loyal Nashville Wraps customer, Michael is a branding mastermind!
After spending 12 years planning commercial office space, his creative spirit wanted more. He always dreamed of opening a modern mercantile based on the general stores of the past. He reinvented this vintage treasure with his twist of modern relevance. Michael expresses his personal taste and sense of humor through the merchandise he sells.
Curating the “Perfect” Gift
Michael says, “The General Store + Co. stocks items that reflect many of the traditional categories an old-fashioned general store would carry, but they are presented in a curated, visually-pleasing way. Our selections range from useful everyday products that are chosen for quality and good design to one-of-a-kind and hard to find items.”
They support local and regional makers in addition to seeking merchandise from all over. Their #1 best-seller is made by a local candle maker – Pickwick & Co. These candles are still hand-poured in the founder’s basement. Pickwick blends natural waxes with sophisticated and seasonal fragrance combinations.
“Our customers visit us looking for the ‘perfect’ gift for the impossible-to-buy-for recipient. They also love some of the more surprising irreverent items in our mix like humorous greeting cards and home décor. We stock a variety of local products, specifically t-shirts, apparel
Customers often see an item on social media and stop by. “We focus our social media and advertising presence on our Instagram. This platform seems like the best fit for retailers.”
Kraft Shopping Bags Made Modern
The General Store + Co. discovered Nashville Wraps as their shopping bags supplier by doing a basic Google search. Initially, they ordered natural brown kraft paper shopping bags and would hand stamp them individually. As their business grew, they needed additional packaging products like jewelry gift boxes, tissue paper, gift wrap and twine.
A Visit to NY Now® & a New Era – Custom Printed Bags
Michael explains, “In the fall of 2016 we opened up a second store and quickly realized that, as charming as it is to have hand-stamped shopping bags, it might be time to outsource that portion to Nashville Wraps Custom Print Department. We began custom printing our logo onto the bags with black ink.” Then they decided to change up the color a bit.
“We’re still using the same natural kraft paper bags with handles and flat merchandise bags, but switching to white ink on our custom printing. This gives our packaging a more modern look. Recently, we added custom printed jewelry boxes instead of hand applying stickers to the lids. Our bags and boxes look much more ‘professional’ and better convey our brand!”
Personal Connection + Exceptional Service = The General Store + Co.
Final thoughts from Michael, “Be aware of your competition and borrow from their successes, but stay true to your brand and what is best for it. In a world of Amazons, even if you happen to have items that also are available there, making personal connections with people and offering exceptional service will win customers over in the end.”
We totally agree! Nothing can replace the emotional connection you get from friendly and knowledgeable retailers with unique offerings. We hope you continue to support outstanding local businesses like The General Store + Co.