I was recently on a business trip in Kansas City, Missouri and took the opportunity to visit a vintage boutique in the area. I was excited to learn about Re-Runs, one of the largest and oldest vintage clothing stores in the Midwest. I met with owner Ken Coit to find out more about his journey (and to shop for goodies, of course!)
Ken Coit studied political science, Latin American studies and Spanish in college. In the 80s, he held a full-time day job at the University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Medicine in video production. He produced training videos for medical schools
and the police department.
Ken met a woman at a garage sale who ran a weekend booth at the Westport Flea Market (now a restaurant bar) selling vintage clothing. In the early 80s, he joined her and started selling antique housewares on Saturday, as she sold her goods on Sundays.
After about one year, Ken solely ran the flea market booth on both Saturdays and Sundays. He had no formal training in vintage clothing or housewares but had an eye for quality. It was through this business where Ken learned the vintage fashion business trade. He also drew upon his experiences from his paperboy business. Ken began to see the potential of a future in selling vintage and operated the flea market for the next ten years on the weekends.
"I found I had a knack for picking out things that people really liked and recognizing quality."
"No one ever told me in college that you could be an entrepreneur," states Ken. In 1994, Ken made the jump into the vintage fashion business full-time and opened his first Re-Runs storefront in Westport, a historic neighborhood in Kansas City as a sole proprietor. It stood a modest 10 feet x 50 feet - about the size of a school bus - and he hung all of the clothing on the walls. He owned this boutique for 13 years until a construction project threatened the location and his ability for his customers to access his store.
In addition to his storefront, Ken also purchased a 20,000 square foot Victorian warehouse built in 1884. The building was in the old stockyard district near downtown West Bottoms. He was the first and only retail business in the area for the next 12 years. There was a 1st-floor tenant, storage on the 3rd and 4th floors and he operated a vintage retail store on the 4th floor that was open on Saturdays.
As Ken looked forward towards retirement, he sold the West Bottoms warehouse in 2013 and had a major going-out-of-business sale selling items for less than $15. Ken donated the one ton of clothing left unsold to a West Bottoms charity for recycling - nothing was thrown out!
After closing the first storefront, Ken opened Re-Runs in the current Westport district location in 2007. He carries vintage clothing and accessories from the 1920s through the 1980s and specializes in 1940s and 1950s pieces. Ken states that Kansas City is an area of the country where people live a long time and because they lived through the depression era, they didn't throw anything away.
Ken replenishes his inventory with finds from estate sales, often getting the first call. He purchases inventory outright and does not consign pieces. Ken noted that men's vintage clothing is sometimes ten times harder to find and made special efforts to offer an extensive men's collection - much more than the typical vintage clothing store.
Re-Runs provides clothing for local and independent film projects and bands performing in town looking for stage wear. He has had his share of local celebrity clients with Paul Red, Chris Cooper, Faye Dunaway and Deborah Winger, to name a few. He has also sold or rented authentic period clothing for motion picture, television, theater and photographic media clients. Re-Runs provided wardrobe for numerous notable films including the following:
I'd like to thank Ken for spending the time with me to share his vintage fashion journey. Treat yourself and visit Re-Runs the next time you are in Kansas City!
4041 Broadway Road
Kansas City, MO 64111
Hours: Monday - Friday Noon to 7 pm
Saturday 10:30 to 7 pm - Sunday Noon to 6