Jan 22, 2015

Exploring Top Hat - It's all in the details!

Nothing excites me more than a new adventure....

Hello my lovely friends,

A belated very happy 2015! I trust the New Year has started off well for you - at least that is my hope and prayer for you. My new year started with many new adventures and I have lots to share. But today, I think I will begin with how I ended 2014 before I dig into 2015. I hope you enjoy my small adventure.

December 2014, I had a photo shoot to do outside Kansas City, so while in the area, I had to stop and visit my very good and extremely talented friend, Debbie Dusenberry, aka, Curious Sofa. Debbie and I go way back - in fact, we have known each other almost 12 years already - so hard to believe I have been in the Midwest so long. 

Have you ever had a friend, that you really loved and admired, but that friend still amazes you? That friend is Debbie for me. It goes without saying that Debbie is a very talented and gifted person, but she continues to amaze me with her creative talent to this day. But, if she were never to create a thing again in her life, I would still be amazed by her spirit. Because what she (or anyone) produces isn't who they are, but just an expression. And her soul is what I admire the most about her.

Debbie has an online store, which I encourage everyone to check out, if you haven't. But in addition to her online business, she is also part of a very fabulous event that takes place in KS City - First Fridays Vintage Event. The first friday (entire weekend, actually) of each month, there is a whole industrial part of KS City that opens up to sell their vintage wares and goods.

I have been wanting to attend just forever, but the timing was just never right. But, when I pulled over for some gas, I got just a glimpse of what was to come. As the gas pumped gas, I got pumped up at what I saw across the overpass, just waiting for me!

I arrived much later than planned, and was anxious to find my fabulous friend, but as I hunted down her spot, this is the area I encountered...

There were many, many, MANY more old buildings and vendors to see, but I turned around after taking the above pic and BINGO - saw Debbie's new digs:

Her new space is located in Top Hat Mercantile - isn't that just the coolest red truck ever? You MUST click on their website! It is just a fab site, and if you are in a need of creative inspiration, this site is full of great design. This website was designed by my talented friend, Debbie.

You see, most people who know Debbie, or know of her, are VERY familiar with her distinct taste, creative styling, and knack to select only the best of things to sell. But what most people don't realize is that she is a VERY talented graphic designer. (I know...is there anything this woman can't do? If I didn't love her so, I would hate her...) She designed the entire company identity of the Top Hat Mercantile...the website, the logos, the colors, the signs, everything! And there just isn't a thing about this location that isn't short of pure deliciousness.

Top Hat Mercantile is an antique mall like no other. While there are LOTS of great malls and stores in this industrial area to explore, Top Hat Mercantile has a very select group of dealers who "get it." Debbie designed the entry way and had an artist make these FAB rusty tin Top Hat signage (they are huge!). How great are these?

And look at this great light fixture that hangs in the entry way as well. She had someone make this as special. This is one of many things I love about my friend...she is all about the details. Those very details where so many, many shops just miss the opportunity to shine. It is those details that I believe only true artists create, seek, and explore the possibilities. I've been to a lot of shops over the years, and trust me, the shops that shine, are the shops with the creative details. Top Hat Mercantile is Top Choice when it comes to the details in my book.

Right after you enter, Top Hat even has its own gift shop right inside. Vintage displays, great gifts, seasonal items. Remember, I went in Dec, so they were all prepped for Christmas - I can't wait to go back. I have to tell you, I was really impressed with the prices - VERY reasonable, and not even sure how they can sell such great items at such great prices. 

I went on the hunt for my friend and loved everything I was seeing - I knew this would be a "three-lap" visit. Meaning, I would need at least three laps around the store to see it all and take it in. 

I just love "three-lap" stores.

Oh, and those fab lights below? I later discovered this was one of Debbie's spaces.

And TA DA!! I found my beloved friend, working away, as I went around the corner (above) and discovered that the space I love so much (above) is also hers - of course.

And something "ordinary" like a price tag, is anything but when it comes to Debbie's creative mind. Check out these old pics she uses to tag her items.

In addition to her infamous, Curious Sofa space, Debbie has now added a new addition to her business: Tobacco Road. I have to say, this is such a great addition. It is part industrial, part rustic, always vintage, and always well, what can I say...always Debbie. Her select items celebrate textures, worn wearables, and creative comfort lifestyle. Basically, Debbie has a way of selecting and pairing items in such a way that on their own, may seem familiar, but her discerning eye pulls unlikely items together that creates an environment that one just has to be a part of and wants a piece of it to take home. 

Trust me, you will want forge your own familiarity with Tobacco Road. It is a road  that you will definitely want to travel.

I decided to take another "lap" and explore the store...

How cool is the little grotto? The basement in Top Hat is just fabulous! No basement has a right to be this great. GREAT stone walls everywhere, piled with vintage items, displayed creatively. 

This is a HUGE all glass "chain link" chandelier that greets you when you first enter Top Hat. Mesmerizing. 

Like I said, Debbie leaves no stone unturned when it comes to company identity. Not even the loading dock doors go unadorned. Need some light over the stairwell? Well, she hunted down these top hat light fixates - go figure! Nothing is standard with her creative mind...and I just love that.  Even the little directional signs all have style, yet purposeful. (Okay, I think I have a girl crush...:-)

Well, by the time I did my "laps" it was way later when I finally got out to explore other areas. I made it only to one other store, but did get some snaps of a few of the buildings (there are MANY more!) Well, this gives me a reason to head back soon to explore again...

I did manage to sneak inside a store before closing, but honestly can't remember the name, but the interior was fun to see as I zipped about quickly...

And of course, no visit with Debbie isn't complete without kisses and running in circles with Pearl, her (dog) friend, Pearl. She is a living doll...no leash...her own outfits...never far...and never underfoot either. And, if "missing" one will find her on the most comfy sofa or chair in the area - pretty and smart too!

I hope you enjoyed my adventure at Top Hat Mercantile. If ever in the KS City area on First Friday of the month, this is a MUST stop to shop, get inspired, and grab up some goodies. I can't wait to go again, and next time, I am tempted to bring an empty trailer!

I have much to catch you up on, and will be announcing a new venture I am working on. I am so excited about it, and you will be the first to know.

May your 2015 be filled with adventures that bring you joy, inspiration, and a fun-filled lifestyle that will have you running in circles with the likes of a friend like Pearl.

from my house to your house,



Brenda said...

Thank you so much for the tour! I have been a great fan of Debbie's for years. I never got to see Curious Sofa until the very last day it was open, and, of course it was practically empty. I was lucky enough to attend Miss Frenchie's once where I met two of my decor idols, Debbie and YOU!

I have followed along online with Debbie's new venture, Top Hat, and need to get to KC and see it in person. She has an amazingly creative mind when it comes to retail, and I never tire of looking at pictures from the old Curious Sofa, so I know I am in for a treat when I get to see her Top Hat space.

I am waiting to see what your new venture is. As it is with Debbie, it is with you; I am amazed by your talent and follow you and am inspired by you and your wonderful vintage style. I still look at the pictures of your little kitchen makeover and marvel at all the details.

Thanks again for the Top Hat peek.

Anonymous said...

I've known about this place but haven't visited yet! Such great pictures! I hope to make the trek down I-29 in February!

Mrs. Kelley Dibble said...

Eeek! What a blast! Thanks for taking us with you!

Hugs, Kelley~

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hello Brenda!

Thank you for the lovely comment - I will be sure Debbie sees it. Her store was just the best, wasn't it? I don't think anyone realizes the amount of hours she put into that place. If you do get a chance to visit Top Hat, the dealers there all have great items at great prices - I can't wait to go back myself.

Thanks again for starting my day off with a big smile. I enjoyed your blog and happy anniversary to you and your hubby!

Big hugs

Elizabeth Maxson said...


I love when I get to see your little pic pop up in my comments section. Thanks for visiting and so hope all is wonderful in your world. I hope you DO get a chance to visit Top Hat - if you do, let me know what you think. I can't wait to go back.

Lots of hugs

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hello Kelley, my friend with the best shoes....

Your little pointy shoes always make me smile. I hope all is well with you and thank you so much for visiting. I will say, I am loving your new blog addition of Refashion sewing - great ideas! And the pics on your sidebar of your family (and daughter's wedding pic) are really something too. Thanks for sharing so much of your life.
Big hugs

Rita C at Panoply said...

It's always great to read a post from you, Elizabeth, and I love your connectedness with Debbie.
I have ordered from her several times, and am always happy with what I get (and so was my daughter this Christmas).
Wish visiting KC was closer but, alas, the virtual trip is nearly as intoxicating. Thank you!

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hi Rita!

Thanks for stopping by. Yes, I feel very blessed to call Debbie one of my closest friends. I admire her, and she has been a great friend in both joyous and not joyous times in my life - the mark of a real friend.

Hope all is well with you and please visit again when you can.
Big hugs

Rhonda said...

A wonderful tour, thank you so much. Sigh, I just adored the grotto, so much! Everything was dreamy and I order from Debby quite frequently, fabulous shop.

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hi Rhonda,

Yes, I ordered from Debbie a few times as well - and loved everything I ever got from her store. So glad you stopped by and thank you for shopping at my friend's store. I love that creative women support other creative women. Your home is just beautiful and very serene - I love that.

Big hugs

chateau chic said...

This place looks amazing...I think I would go crazy shopping in a place like this!!!
Mary Alice

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Thank you Mary Alice - yes, I did go crazy - and even went crazier that I didn't have time to see more! Glad you could stop by for a visit.

Big hugs

Elaine said...

Looks like a fantastic place! I love the old buildings that house antique booths. Wish I lived closer.

That Top Hat at the entrance is fantastic! I agree your friend is phenomenally talented!

Mary said...

Always a special morning when I see you 'pop up' here Elizabeth - know that there will be lots to enjoy whether created by you or your wonderful friend Debbie. You two are definitely the best!!!

What an amazing place Top Hat Mercantile appears to be - I hope so much to come this way again some day, and will be plan for many hours of wandering here!

Hope life is good dear - you sound really excited about your new endeavor - really looking forward to hearing more soon.

Happiest of new years to you and Randy - may it be the best ever.
Warm hugs - Mary

Elizabeth Maxson said...


I just love hearing from you - you are like a pair of chic, pretty shoes that are super comfy :-) Ihope all is going well with you as well. Thanks for visiting and if ever in the area (like at least 4 hours away) let me know!!

Big hugs

Elizabeth Maxson said...


Thank you for stopping by - omgosh - your site is so wonderful - and your sister a true artist - loved her art work! Yes, old buildings are by far my favorite and can instantly turn any business into something special. But Top Hat would be special if it were in a pup tent! :-)

Big hugs

Curtains in My Tree said...

Thanks for that tour of where the First Friday thingie is LOL
And the new store of the Curious Sofa lady and her sweet little dog Pearl
My youngest daughter went there a couple months ago. She started at a store JUJU or something like that, i seen it in one of the pictures because I went there once when I drove into the city to see princess Diana wedding dress on display.

I can't wait to find out about your new adventure !!!Hope it's a store in St Louis ? area
I missed you in your old store in St Louis by the time I got there you had moved on, I found you in a Country Living magazine a few years ago remember of course you do LOL
Well girl keep up with what your doing till you post again , make us followers happy


Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hi Janice!

So nice to hear from you. First Friday event IS something special, isn't it? I can't wait to go again. And sorry, no, I am NOT opening a new store - been there, done that, not again - but really glad I did it! I hope all is well in your world girly.

Big hugs

Rue said...

Wow! Great store!!

Elizabeth Maxson said...

HI Rue

It IS a great store - I think you would really enjoy it.

big hugs

Angela said...

I don't think I've shut up since I started reading this post..my poor husband is sick of hearing me say, "look at this" and "how cool is this?" and "isn't Debbie like the smartest, COOLEST woman ever?"(somehow I've used COOL more in the past 30 min. than ever before, ha) and of course "Elizabeth takes the BEST photos". He has just nodded, rolled his eyes, lusted after the vintage belts, and then asked, "have you ever met these two women? Cause you sure talk abt them like you have!" If only Byron, Ga was a little closer or I owned my own plane!! Thanks for sharing so many pictures, I could spend all day with you. Debbie, if you read this, I SO NEED YOUR HELP with branding/designing!

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hello Angela

You are so funny - I bet your husband is never bored ;-) You sound like so much fun, and yes, if we were closer, I would spend all day with you too - who knows, maybe some day? I am glad you visited me and thank you for the lovely comment!

big hug

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...