Best Place to Find Irish Stuff

Browne's Deli

"The number-one hottest trend in retailing is Celtic goods," says John McClain, co-owner of Browne's Deli, quoting the Wall Street Journal. McClain, along with his business partner, Kerry Browne, keep up on such things -- not that it would make much difference if Celtic retailing weren't hot right now. "We're the oldest Irish retail store in North America, since 1887," McClain says, "and Kerry is a fourth-generation family owner." Which means Browne's isn't going to change its focus regardless of retail trends, but right now the interest is kind of sweet.

Browne's has been at the corner of 33rd and Pennsylvania since 1901. For a long time it was a neighborhood grocery store in what was then called "Kerry Patch," according to From the Bottom Up, The Story of the Irish in Kansas City by local public relations executive Pat O'Neill. But don't assume Celtic means just Irish. Include Scots, Welsh, and some Brits in the definition.

Besides preparing some of the best deli sandwiches in Kansas City, Browne's stocks Celtic/Irish foodstuffs, CDs, clothes, glassware, embroidery items, garden stones, pottery, and jewelry. The jewelry, with its centuries-old Celtic symbols, is perhaps the most alluring. Many rings display a circle design originating around 500 B.C. from an area just north of Dublin called New Grange. Earrings and bracelets often are engraved with the treskillion sign, a three-knot Christian symbol.

Both Browne and McClain recognize the uniqueness of their store's offerings and the history that comes with it. "Here," says McClain, "is like having a business in your living room."

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