The British are here, and they are hungry!
They say that you can’t go home again, but for Kansas City metro expatriates, you can now bring a bit of it home to you. David Abrey, owner of Redcoats-That British Store, knows how you feel and is excited to welcome anglophiles and expats alike into his emporium of all things British.
The store, located at 5309 W. 151st Street in Leawood, is the only store of its kind in the Metro. After Abrey moved to the United States with his American wife, Tracy, in the late 1990s, he visited Brits, a British goods store in Lawrence.
“The first thing that you tend to do when you move to a new country is search out things that are familiar to you,” explains Abrey. “It’s a comfort to find things that remind you of home. We used to go to Brits every couple of months and load up on my favorites. Even when I first went there, something wiggled at the back of my brain that I would like to do something like that in the future.”
The future was a fair bit off though. Trained in city planning, Abrey landed a job as a city planner after a few months of retail at Barnes and Noble. After nearly a decade in city planning with the city of Lenexa, he moved on to a position as a travel manager for local micronutrient company, SFP. When the company was sold recently, he finally found his opportunity to open the store that he had dreamed of.
The space is a veritable smorgasbord of British goods. In addition to the expected candies and crisps (that’s chips to the Yankees), Abrey is honing in on some more boutique food items such as Wilkins & Sons Tip Tree jams and marmalades. Tip Tree is a village in Essex, where Abrey grew up, known for their acres of fruit orchards and fields. Their selection of jams and jellies provide what Abrey believes is a distinctive flavor and quality, much thicker than American jams and with a variety of unusual flavors such as red currant, rhubard and several different curds.
Tea has always been a distinctly British item and Redcoats has a variety of different options, from the royal tea blenders, Fortnum and Mason, to the more recognizable Twinnings. While he will always offer the standards that people know and love such as Earl Grey and English Breakfast, he will also carry some more unusual blends.
In addition to the tea, Redcoats carries a line of beautiful teapots, mugs and cups, both from across the pond and from a few more local producers. Currently, he has a selection of china that commemorates last year’s achievement of Queen Elizabeth II becoming the longest ruling monarch in history.
For many, the UK has invaded within the pop culture or sports realm. Redcoats offers a variety of items that check into several current obsessions, including Doctor Who, Sherlock, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and several different UK football clubs. He says that he has had several people pop in just to look at a t-shirt that features the 10th Doctor’s signature suit printed on it, with no recognition that it was Doctor Who related.
Abrey has the unique perspective of knowing what expats miss and what anglophiles crave, partially because he is one and partially because he’s listening to what the community is saying. His Facebook page takes the litmus test of what items are sought after and he’s taking great pains to source the things that people are asking for. Seeking Ribena, Branston pickle, HP Sauce or Coleman’s mustard? Look no further. He has them all.
Any new business should have an element of passion to it and Redcoats has that in spades. For Abrey, this store is a piece of his past and a long look into the future. God save the queen!
For more information about Redcoats, visit their Facebook page at Facebook.com/Redcoats-That-British-Store.