Wise Blood Booksellers – Kansas City, Missouri

Wise Blood Booksellers calls itself “Kansas City’s little independent bookstore inside a record store.” It’s a fitting – if a little conservative – description for this gem of a shop.

Wise Blood consumes perhaps a third or so of the large retail space inside of Mills Record Company, itself offering a vast array of new and used vinyl. But note the use of the word “large.” It is indeed a big shop, and Wise Blood packs an impressive punch with its floorspace. 

Tall and short shelves are peppered around the bookshop’s portion of the store, containing a variety of genres and well-curated staff picks. New and used titles are nicely displayed in a welcoming and creatively designed layout.

Judy Mills and Dylan Pyles opened Wise Blood, named after the Flannery O’Connor novel, in late 2019, shortly before the onslaught of the pandemic. Embraced by the community, the shop has thrived in its Westport neighborhood.

“We’re making music and art and poetry, and we’re basically inventing our own spaces to carry out those artistic acts,” Pyles told KC Studio in 2020. “And I feel like a record store and a bookstore are vital in the process of growing the imagination in the neighborhood.”

In addition to hosting author events and embracing the local writing community, Wise Blood also operates Liberation Lit, which sends books of all kinds to individuals incarcerated in Missouri and Kansas. The program’s goals are to stoke the imagination, foster relationships, amplify voices and build solidarity through literature.

Both the bookshop and record store sides of the space were bustling on my Sunday afternoon visit, and I picked up a novel unknown to me based solely on the well thought out and impassioned staff pick description. 

Wise Blood Booksellers is located at 4045 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, MO. Open daily.

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