Ryan Cocherl, the manager/operator of FezziwigsKC, has always been creative. He majored in creative writing and played in a band after college, but he struggled to find the right outlet for his ideas.
One day, he asked his father, Patrick J. Cocherl, Jr., what his dream was when he retired from the computer repair company he founded 30 years ago. Patrick thought for a moment and said he’d love to open a toy store like the ones he visited as a child.
That conversation sparked something in Ryan. “It inspired me to start my own business and create things my father’s generation would enjoy,” he said.
In 2015, Ryan and Patrick started Fezziwigs, named after Scrooge’s boss in “A Christmas Carol.” His original plan was to create wooden artwork and signage with inspirational quotes. He taught himself how to operate a CNC Router (a computer-controlled cutting machine), and he designed and manufactured the products on his own.
When he started attending art shows, he realized many other vendors were making the exact same products so he knew he needed to change direction. Ryan wanted a signature item to set Fezziwigs apart, so he worked with his wife to design and produce large, hand-crafted wall clocks that would not only tell time but double as beautiful wall artwork for private residences or businesses.
“We received feedback that the clocks have a unique style and are something you can’t buy anywhere else,” said Ryan. “We’re always competing against big-box retailers, but people have discovered they can’t find hand-crafted products like ours in those stores.”
Seeing the success of the clock line and always having the thought of nostalgia inspired by his father, Fezziwigs then began making hand-crafted classic board games many people played with as children.
“We put careful thought into designing the games so they would stand apart from what you find at big box retail stores,” Ryan said. “When people see the games, they often say, ‘This reminds me of when my parents taught me how to play these games as a child.’ That’s the feeling of nostalgia we have always strived to create.”
The first game Fezziwigs offered was Cribbage, but Ryan put his own spin on it by designing a circular board rather than a traditional rectangle. The local artists working at Fezziwigs designed and added other classic games, such as Checkers, Tic-Tac-Toe, Backgammon, and Chinese Checkers to the line.
Fezziwigs sells most of its products at art shows and on Etsy, but customers kept asking when a physical location would open so they could visit and touch the items in person.
“In 2010, my father purchased the Martin City Bank building and restored it to how banks looked 100 years ago,” said Ryan. “Once it was rehabbed, we realized it would be a perfect location for Fezziwigs.”
They renamed the bank building to, “Bailey Brothers Building and Loan,” a nod to another Christmas movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” On September 1st, 2017, Fezziwigs’ retail store opened for business in Martin City.
“The bank is the star of our business, and it’s turned us into a shopping destination for people all over Kansas City,” said Ryan. “It fits with the story of our business, and the response we’ve received from it has been incredible.”
Ryan said Fezziwigs is always interested in feedback from customers to improve their work, and they hired full-time artists in the last year to help design new products instrumental in the company’s growing success.
“When I reflect on the past two years, it’s amazing how much I’ve learned about business and creating products customers want to buy,” said Ryan. “My goal is to produce things people are proud to display in their homes, while also finding ways to recreate the nostalgia of my father’s childhood.”
To learn more about Fezziwigs, please visit their website.