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Louise Meyers and Pryde’s: Giving the Delight of Discovery

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The holidays are often referred to as the season of joy. It’s a time to celebrate friends and family and an opportunity to reflect on the many blessings we have in our lives. It’s about opening hearts and home and welcoming the positivity that warms our spirits.

Louise Meyers, business owner, wife and mother of six, practices the spirit of joy and kindness, not just during the holiday season, but year-round. She celebrates her good fortune with others through her store, Pryde’s, a second-generation, family-owned gourmet, kitchen and home accessories store located in historic Westport in Kansas City, Missouri. She lovingly refers to it as the hardware store for cooks, and for this native Kansas Citian, her vocation is the customer, and her work is all about people.

Recognizing a Calling
“Joy comes through the effort you put forth in serving others. I find great joy in doing this. It’s not to be confused with being subservient by today’s modern, often garbled, conversations. I think a lot of life boils down to two questions: What is your vocation and do you serve others through your vocation?” revealed Louise. “Pryde’s is my work vocation that is seamless with my vocation at home. I love to help a customer, whether it’s getting them a cup of tea or coffee or helping them choose the right skillet or wedding gift. I love to cook at home, surprise clean one of my children’s rooms or put gas in their car. Little things like these bring me joy. By serving others, you make yourself more present to others.”

Pryde’s is a multi-generational small business serving a multi-generational range of customers. Louise and her staff take great pride that they’ve assisted grandparents, parents and now their children with top-quality kitchen supplies from leading manufacturers such as Le Creuset, Portmeirion, Spode, All-Clad, Wusthof, Ritz terrycloth potholders and tried-and-true staples for any kitchen. Tabletop decor, linens, towels, cutlery, bakeware and gadgets are just a sampling of the delights waiting for you at Pryde’s. A wedding registry, serving the happy couple, may have also previously included their mothers and grandmothers. The staff guides customers to items that will provide a lifetime of service and wear, all the while encouraging people to cook and bring joy into the home.

And that joy is nearly bursting at the seams. The store features an amazing three floors, 10,000 square feet stocked to the ceiling with everything a cook could crave. While it carries thousands of items, it’s not overwhelming, because Louise and her staff have everything organized into logical areas. This knowledgeable and experienced team offers advice and guidance to brand-new and long-time cooks. Some customers make it a multi-hour shopping experience and tie in a stop at Ashleigh’s Bake Shop, open Thursday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. You can quench your thirst with coffee or tea and feed your body with mouth-watering pies, sweet or savory, delicious quiches, scrumptious cookies and other delights.

The Beginning
Pryde’s has been helping the Kansas City area since 1968, when Louise’s parents, John and Connie Perucca, opened this cooks’ haven. Sporting the middle name of her mother, Pryde’s offered her parents a way to feed their creative side while supporting their family. In 1972, Pryde’s outgrew its location and moved down the street to the former Helen Thomes School of Dance, founded in 1922. Stepping into Pryde’s takes you back to those days with its original hardwood floors that were used for the ballet school. Along the walls of the historic brick building’s three-story staircase hang pictures of students and teachers of those bygone years. While the structure boasts a long and fabled past, the business of Pryde’s, which is celebrating its 50th year of serving the community, has been sweet and, at times, trying.

“I grew up with three siblings, and we worked in the store from a young age because it was a family business. I originally aspired to be a news anchor or labor delivery nurse, not run a retail store. Life takes its cruel twists and turns, and my younger brother, Chris, died in a car accident on New Year’s Eve. I didn’t want my family to be alone; it wasn’t the right time to leave,” Louise shared. “So I ended up staying even though I had other goals. But as I worked through that grief, I became more and more involved each day, and then I embraced it. It’s the only job I’ve ever had, and I can’t imagine a better one because I’m able to experience people every day. Now, I have my own family, a supportive husband and six beautiful children. Perhaps one of them will continue this business for the next generation.”

Local and Personal
While she loves the work and the people, Louise is well aware of the challenges associated with retail, especially the threat of shoppers solely making purchases online. “We’re locally owned and that’s so critically important. I grant that it is easy to fall into a trap of buying everything online, but there’s nothing like walking into a store and smelling the pie baking or the coffee brewing. You can’t get that online,” Louise stated. 

“Unfortunately, what makes our community unique is disappearing around us. Life is not always about the ultra-expediency of meeting our every expectation. Sometimes it’s about walking into a store and discovering something. The human contact of business is incredibly important. I understand that life is busy, and it can be necessary to get things online, but, on the other side of the coin, shoppers are missing the delight of discovery.”

At Pryde’s, you’ll not only discover the tools you need to create delicious meals but also the plates to serve it on. Pryde’s features the largest selection of colorful American-made Fiesta dinnerware in the Midwest, along with every accessory from gravy boats to signature platters and pitchers. While the store is packed with nearly any item a cook could desire, Louise has her tried and true pieces that no home should be without.

“My favorite things are the solid basics that help you build a successful kitchen and create wonderful food,” revealed Louise. “A three-quart saucepan, cast iron skillet, eight-inch chef’s knife and a five-and-half-quart Le Creuset dutch oven are the basics. A Le Creuset dutch oven, although a bit more expensive, is worth it. I’ve cooked countless meals with these essentials. When you factor that into the equation, they’re well worth the money. I’m actually cooking with some of my mother’s Le Creuset that is 50 years old. You can stew or roast a chicken and take it right to the table. It’s one of the original lines we carried when we opened the store.”

Many suppliers of those lines have serviced Pryde’s since its opening day. Having these long-time connections is important to Louise and to the success of her store. “Pryde’s is a treasure and a discovery, a delightful and unexpected discovery. We have a staggering array of choices for a customer. Merchandise is grouped in three different price ranges in nearly every item I carry. I study other stores and try to carry the things they don’t. I respect my competitors, and I embrace them because they help me make my own business better,” Louise stated. “Things should have meaning in your home, and your kitchen should be the center of a nurturing home. Don’t be afraid to make your home as personal as possible. Offer your personality in your cooking and how you decorate your home.”

Giving Back
Even though caring for her store and family consume a great deal of her time, Louise still finds the time to volunteer in the community through her work as a Eucharistic minister through Visitation Church. Louise shares the resources of her store by featuring a knife sharpening service in the fall to raise money for the Bishop Sullivan Center. On April 3, 2019, Pryde’s will host a fundraiser to support Kansas City Community Gardens.

After decades of working in retail, Louise has collected much experience and knowledge. She offers these personal insights for others seeking to open their own businesses. “I’ve given dozens of people this advice over the last 18 years. I tell them to work for two years in the retail of their choice to make sure this is what they want to do,” she commented. “Retail is 24/7; it’s different than any other job, but I love it. I’m always happy to get to work. Every day is the same because I’m a creature of habit, but every day is different because of the people who walk in the door.”

While her family, friends and business have a special place in her heart, Louise encourages Kansas Citians to make an effort to explore the city, shop locally and appreciate those stores. As for cooking, she says to embrace your approach to it in a different way by branching out and trying new things, which will revitalize your culinary skill set. She shares that sometimes just walking through a store like Pryde’s will give you a great idea.

“I’m so graced every day by the presence of people who come into my store. As the conversation unfolds, it can lead to something much deeper,” she noted. “Maybe a customer has come in to buy a strainer and, as you talk, you find out they’re receiving cancer treatments, and they’ve come to Pryde’s to feel better. The interaction of face-to-face encounters is priceless, and it’s fun to see customers interact with others. Pryde’s is a very real place.”

If you’re looking for just the right kitchen tool or accessory or just want to shop away the day, visit Pryde’s with its abundant selection and helpful staff. Make yourself happy and stop by for a conversation with Louise and her team or shop for an item you just have to have, or one you didn’t even realize you needed. The joy of the holiday season can start with a visit to Pryde’s, your one-stop shop for home happiness.