December 3, 2022
By Kathy Smith
Hold on to your hats dearies, I am about to tell you about two of the most dynamic young ladies in these here parts.
It goes like this darlings, in downtown Lee’s Summit back in the late 1990s there was not much going on. There were a few shops and a couple of restaurants. There were no wide sidewalks, bump-outs or pocket parks save for the remnants of the Dinty Dugan Park which was located on the corner of E. Main and West Third Street.
Traditions, which was located in the Guy Gronberg building next to Hartley Plaza, was an outstanding décor shop run by Cindy Picard and a group of very creative folks who came downtown in 1996. This great shop migrated from Greenwood. Those folks saw the potential of being downtown. In 1997 Cameron’s opened in the former Bakers Department Store building. Doreen Rhodes was the owner. The store started as a clothing store that carried all kinds of clothing and accessories. When the big box stores arrived in our community, Doreen switched to selling furniture. Amy Tominia Robertson started work for Doreen in college feeding all of the brainpower she brought to Cameron’s. Eventually, Cameron’s was purchased by the Tominia family. At this point, the wheels of fabulous events began to spin. I digress.
Mindy Methner, daughter of the creative Cindy Pickard, was forging her way into the dynamics of downtown. Methner, who has always been a designer, opened her storefront downtown called M Culture. She used her site, the former Trinkets and Treasures, as a holding place for pieces she was installing in clients’ homes. Robertson and Methner were on the Promotions Committee of Downtown Lee’s Summit. The only active committee in those days was the Promotions Committee. This great committee was in charge of coming up with ideas for various events to help the downtown organization earn money for operating expenses and to have more events. Back then it was tough for merchants. The Wild Flower, which was owned by a wonderful gentleman named Bill Putoff and his wife Lola, was a first-class décor shop specializing in floral arrangements and accessories for the home. Putoff organized meetings with merchants to share information regarding statistics of sales and how the merchants could work together to help each other. Another great store was Traymore. The owners always managed to come up with the most amazing storefront decorations. Their windows were like being in New York City. The store sold furniture and all kinds of home decorations.
There were other wonderful shops too. Who could forget Miss Kitty’s? The restaurant was known for its Italian bill of fare and colorful owners.
So the comet duo used their brainpower to do all of the heaving lifting that created excellent events. The Piccadilly, which was brought to town by Charla Henry, was the first big fundraiser. Fourteen thousand dollars was raised from that great event. It was out a Longview Stables. The theme was the 1920s. People were needed to help set up the silent auction which was a major part of the evening. Enter Cassie Gabbert and Becky Hughes owners of Bliss Cottage. These two amazing ladies also have giant creative genes. They arranged a small room for auction items. Lots of cool stuff sold that night. Darla Hall and countless others helped make the evening a success. Did I mention that it rained and the roof leaked all over the chair for the guests?
My sweet ones, I could have not had a better time interviewing the Comet. We discussed the horrible experience of “Digging It” which was the theme for the construction of the downtown. Trust me, my friends, none of the merchants were digging having their storefronts blocked off and pathways made out of wooden planks. It was because all of the merchants supported each other and the involvement of former City Manager Steve Arbor that merchants were able to keep a smile on their faces. All kinds of quirky events were created to keep folks coming downtown.
I could write volumes about those days. Robertson created Ladies’ Night Out, Witches Eve, and many other events that exist today and some that have been lost over time. Robertson’s father, Steve Tominia, was the President of Downtown Lee’s Summit at the time. It was under his watchful eye that the merchants were able to stay afloat. Not all made it through construction.
So my friends, Robertson and Methner have learned their chops from hard work and ethical behavior. They have taken the real estate world by storm. They have directed their comet to Reece Nichols Real Estate in downtown Lee’s Summit. Watch the skies?