After working for others for years as a chef, a butcher and a general manager, chef Andrew Dessert has finally opened up a general store of his own.

The Exchange has opened in downtown Parkville, selling locally made food and beverages along with other artisan items. This month, Dessert has added a small selection of beer, wine and local spirits and a variety of housemade grab-and-go dishes so customers can stop in and get something to heat and eat.

The goal is to find delicious ways to bring people into the store while providing a safe way to pick up quality items from local producers.

“I am all in on figuring out how to make this market work for my customers during the pandemic,” says Dessert, who is running the shop with help from his fiancé, Reid Harrison, who creates jewelry under the name Kizmet, which is also sold at The Exchange.

Dessert decided to open the grocery part of the business first, then add liquor and grab-and-go food items. Once safety restrictions are lifted amid COVID-19, he plans to make and serve a daily selection of soups, salads and sandwiches. Four to six seats will be available out on the sidewalk in front of the store, as well as perhaps a few barstools around the handmade counter inside that was lovingly made from reclaimed planks from an old bowling alley.

The bright and airy shop sits right on Parkville’s picturesque Main Street next to the river and a large park. It is located in a recently remodeled red brick building owned by Brian Mertz, who has outfitted the upper floors of the building with Airbnb apartments, with Dessert’s general store open for business on the ground floor.

“I am really excited about having a built-in clientele right in this building that can come down, grab coffee and breakfast and shop for locally made snacks and beverages to take back to their rooms to get a taste of Kansas City,” Dessert says.

After working for years at Room 39 and Brewery Emperial under chef Ted Habiger, where he was introduced to many area farmers, Dessert developed a real passion for using local ingredients. He then went to work for chef Alex Pope at The Local Pig, working in both the butcher shop and the Pigwich side of the business.

From the sum total of all of those experiences, he has curated a shop that would easily appeal to a busy working parent, a strict locavore or a charcuterie board-lover with equal ease, selling only the best of the best locally made items that customers can use to make a snack or a full meal at home.

The store shelves are packed with pickles, salsas, jams and mustards from KC Canning Co., coffee beans from Broadway Roasters and Blip Coffee, craft cocktail syrups from Boozy Botanicals, Boys Grow jalapeño honey mustard and ketchup, hot sauce from Common Descent, Hugo Teas, cheese sticks and crackers from Farm to Market Bread Co.

The refrigerated cases across the back of the store are filled with local beef, chicken, eggs, pork and lamb from Barham Family Farm in Kearney, Missouri. You'll also find cheeses from Green Dirt Farm, Elderslie Creamery, Jason Wiebe and Baetje Farms, as well as a variety of corn tortillas from Yoli Tortilleria and Eat Füd vegan cashew sour cream and Cheddar cheese cream. Containers of housemade marinated olives, chimichurri sauce, salsa and antipasti are also ready for customers to snack on at home.

There is also a fun selection of mini pastries featuring creative baby cakes, pies and quiche made by talented local pastry chef Jessica Rieck, who also works as the pastry chef at Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar just west of the Country Club Plaza.

Planning on some picnics this spring? Make sure to stock up with some heavy duty blankets bearing The Exchange logo. By design, the shop sells everything you need to make the perfect picnic to take to any of the parks and hiking trails in and around Parkville. Dessert is excited to cultivate this part of the business once the weather gets a little warmer.

In the center of the store sits an old piano, at which Dessert hopes to eventually invite people to come and play while folks shop and eat. He wants The Exchange to be a hub of social activity on Parkville's Main Street, and a place where not only goods – but good vibes – can be exchanged. 

The Exchange is open Wednesday through Saturday from 9am to 6pm and Sunday from 9am to 4pm.

The Exchange, 110 Main St., Parkville, Missouri, 816.200.7331,