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Alley allure

Check out some of Columbia's top shops

Alley A Columbia MO

Columbia First Ward City Council Representative Fred Schmidt walks along Alley A.

Back in 2007, John Ott, BJ ’83, owner of several properties in downtown Columbia, was unhappy with the inefficient use of space in a strip of buildings on the south side of Broadway from Ninth to 10th streets.

“Those buildings are 142 feet deep, and in many cases, the back sections weren’t being used,” Ott says. “Also, a lot of people would walk down that alley just because it’s in the center of downtown.”

So Ott and his construction team added apartments above the restoration shop, Grace (918 E. Broadway), and built the storefront of Kampai, an urban-style sushi restaurant — all accessible from the parallel rear alleyway. Soon, other developers added more apartments and a “new age general store,” Good Nature.

The name “Alley A” is courtesy of former Mayor Darwin Hindman, BA ’55, JD ’61. When Ott sought a permit to begin construction, the process stalled because the city hadn’t yet named the stretch of pavement. At a city council meeting, the expedient mayor dubbed it “Alley A” and moved on.

Ott thinks other investors might be interested in developing more CoMo alleys in the future. “It just makes sense to find a way to make use of the backs of these buildings.” Alley A, the quirky avenue off the beaten path, is just one of CoMo’s many shopping opportunities.


Jock’s Nitch | 16 S. Ninth St.
Alumni Hall | 215 N. Stadium Blvd., Suite 101

There was no shortage of places to purchase Mizzou gear in this town, and Columbia welcomed two more spirit-gear retailers in 2011. Jock’s Nitch, which is accessible from Alley A on game days, can suit up fans from head to toe in black and gold. Alumni Hall — with 16 locations primarily in SEC country — sells everything from Mizzou gnomes to bibs for babies.

Get Lost Bookshop | 8 S. Ninth St.
Nancy’s Trade-a-Book | 21 Conley Road
Village Books | 1808 Paris Road
Acorn Books | (inside The Marketplace) | 1100 Business Loop 70 West

If you’re searching in vain for a particular used book within Columbia’s city limits, it’s probably your own fault. Get Lost Bookshop downtown is conveniently located near several coffee shops for cheap lexical thrills. Nancy’s Trade-a-Book is well stocked with genre fiction. Village Books recently more than doubled its floor space when it moved three doors down, and its expanded inventory includes a variety of magazines. Acorn Books, formerly on Ninth Street, now makes its home in a hefty section of The Marketplace antique mall.


Melissa Alabach, BS HES ’90, Co-Owner of Talluiahs works on a window display.

Tallulah’s | 812 E. Broadway
Studio Home | 1029 E. Walnut St.

Since college towns foster all things eclectic and artistic, it stands to reason that Columbia’s home décor and accessory stores offer interesting, useful and gorgeous items for local abodes. Studio Home, which moved down the street from its former location in July 2011, feels more like a gallery than an interior design showroom. Owners Aaron Dolan, BS HES ’97, and Jon Trigg, BFA ’98, MFA ’03, display an imaginative blend of vintage and modern furniture. Tallulah’s opened in April 2011, and co-owners Mary Stauffer and Melissa Alabach, BS HES ’90, have an impeccable style-sense that shows throughout every square foot of the kitchen, tabletop and home store.

Rock Bottom Comics | 1013 E. Walnut St., Suite 101

If your Spidey sense is tingling right now, chances are you know about Columbia’s leading comic book store. Opened in 1973 a few doors east of its current location, geeks gather here for Magic: The Gathering cards, action figures and graphic novels.

Alley A acquisitions

Jock’s Nitch — Mizzou sock monkey, black and gold bone-shaped squeak toy for Fido 

Good Nature — Quartz healing crystal, alpaca fiber scarf

Kampai Sushi — Octopus salad, caterpillar roll

Grace: A Place of Restoration — Six-foot goddess statue, antique door headboard

Getting to, from and around Columbia

Ten-ton Tigers prowl the streets of Columbia. In fall 2011, the first two city buses with black-and-gold paint jobs started replacing the red-and-blue fleet that reminded some locals of Kansas colors.

On the new buses, tiger eyes peer from above the headlights; black, gold and white paint adorns the sides; and a curly tiger tail wags over the back bumper.

Mike Alden, athletic director, says when he arrived at MU in 1998, he spoke with campus and city government employees about the bus color issue; none had an explanation.

Then, as Columbia was gearing up for Homecoming 2010, Alden read a Columbia Daily Tribune article during his morning workout. The Federal Transit Administration had earmarked $2 million to replace six of Columbia’s aging buses. Alden contacted then-City Manager Bill Watkins, BS PA ’74, MS ’76, to revive the color conversation. Several campus staffers compiled ideas, and Brendon Steenbergen, BA ’99, creative director of BigFish Creative in Columbia, developed the design.

In response to detractors who said the black-and-gold motif makes Columbia look like a company town, Mayor Bob McDavid, MD ’72, says Mizzou is Columbia’s signature. “We are a college town. There is a college with 30,000 students that really defines our city.”

Ticket to ride

Fewer than 20 minutes from campus, Columbia Regional Airport schedules three Delta Air Lines flights daily (two on Saturdays) to Memphis International Airport, which connects to cities across the nation and around the world. Flights go direct to Atlanta as well.

Need a ride to the St. Louis or Kansas City airports? MO-X makes 12 round trips daily to St. Louis and five to Kansas City. Door-to-door service is available.

Columbia is a stop. For as little as $1 each way, ride single- or double-deck buses traveling express routes between Columbia, Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City. Buses feature Wi-Fi and electrical outlets at each seat.

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