The Leawood Historic Commission and the owners of Leawood Shops will dedicate a bronze plaque on Thursday, May 9th at 6:00 pm on site at Somerset & Lee Boulevard. The plaque commemorates the importance of the shops to the early residents of Leawood.
Tom Leathers dubbed this “The Corner That Kindness Built” in an article in the Squire Express. At the conclusion of the article Leathers states, “It would be appropriate if one of these days Leawood would honor the site.” Now, nearly 20 years later we are finally honoring the site and its founders.
George Martin and his cousin Cliff Brisbois built this shopping center as the first commercial development in Leawood in 1951. It was one of the first shopping centers south of the Plaza. George and his wife Dorothy operated Martin’s Finer Foods, the anchor store of the shopping center, until their retirement in 1980. At Martin’s grocery, neighbors could pay on credit, allowing a child to run to the store for items without carrying money. Caring for customers and the community was the standard for all of the shop owners.
In addition to Martin’s grocery, the first shops included; Bickley’s Pharmacy with a soda fountain, Joe Stoval’s Barber Shop where a child’s first haircut was free, Marvin’s Hobby Shop, and Leawood Cleaners.
Back in the 1950s grocery stores carried only groceries but Martin’s had a gift shop run by Dorothy Martin. She also had seating and served coffee to the ladies that came into the store. Martin’s Finer Foods quickly became the social center of Leawood.
The shops were somewhat of a town square for Leawood, where you met neighbors to exchange the latest news. Kids gathered there to meet the school bus, or to have the “best phosphates ever” at Bikley’s soda fountain. To read more about the former shops, click HERE.
Please join us to reminisce about the days when Leawood Shops were the social center of the community. Meet members of the Martin and Brisbois families. We encourage you to bring photos or memorabilia of the shops to the dedication.
Event parking is limited. Street parking on side streets is suggested, please carpool or walk if possible.