Webster Groves ‘General Store’ Civil Alchemy Invites Interaction
It may be reductive to say Civil Alchemy is unapologetically inspired by nostalgia from a bygone era; the community store where everyone knows your name. It is true that the lifestyle shop harks back to a time when corner stores and independent businesses were the first stop on one’s shopping agenda.
Walking in to Civil Alchemy, one will likely begin by wandering through the apparel section that carries goods from independent designers originating in the middle of America, like The Normal Brand and imogene + willie. Then one might discover artisan-crafted jewelry and lifestyle pieces, like hand-selected Japanese tools, camping equipment and seasonal linen bedding—a favorite of founder Kelley Barr. The store is a new, smaller departure from Barr’s previous venture, K Hall Designs. “This is not about making a bunch of money, opening a bunch of stores and generating a ton of hype,” she says.
Meandering into the side room, where a mix of curated kitchen items, liquor, wine, beer, coffee, appetizer trays and drink mixers are displayed along with everything needed to fill up the aforementioned appetizer tray with delectable meats, cheeses and crackers. Shoppers are also invited to sample the brand’s own floral-noted gin, which Barr has been developing for more than a year. She co-runs the space with her son Ian VanDam, who recently returned from a trip to India working with vendors on new product offerings.
“There’s a reason why brick-and-mortar businesses will always exist,” he says. “People need to interact with the thing that they’re buying and the person selling it, and the internet can’t replicate that. So, in the meantime—for the next 100 years, until the internet figures out virtual reality—we have demand. When you have strong community, commerce and local businesses, everything else thrives around it.”
8154 Big Bend Blvd.
While You’re In The Neighborhood …
A boutique with a small army of stylists connecting you to elegant yet reasonably priced pieces.
20 Allen, #100
Naked Boot and Shoe
Hand-crafted booties, flats, mid-calfs and more, all made by artisans.
8157 Big Bend
Your go-to for classic basics like a chambray shirtdress or the perfect pair of jeans you can wear again and again.
33 W. Lockwood
Photo courtesy of Carmen Troesser.
This story originally appeared in ALIVE’s sister publication GUIDED: Webster Groves. Pick up your complimentary copy today.