For All the Marbles

For All the Marbles


by


Bonner Springs’ Moon Marble Company celebrates 20 years in business.

Business partners Bruce Breslow and Lynda Sproules consider themselves lucky—every day, they go to work doing what they love. And after two decades in business together, they haven’t lost their marbles!

The two of them own Moon Marble Company, located in Bonner Springs near the intersection of Kansas 32 and Kansas 7. The company, which is celebrating its 20th year in business, carries hundreds of marbles as well as handmade wooden games and toys for kids of all ages.

But they do more than just sell marbles: Every year, thousands of students and other customers visit the shop to see how marbles are made.

“Marbles took over our lives,” said Sproules with a laugh. “We carry peewees and shooters, toebreakers, pearlies and boulders—up to 100 different designs …. We also exhibit and sell the work of several dozen prominent glassworkers from across the country.”

Kansas-Made Marbles

Breslow and Sproules got into marbles out of necessity.

“I worked with Bruce in his woodworking business, and there were all kind of things including toys,” Sproules said.

The pair sold board games at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival, and the games needed marbles to go with them. Breslow searched for marbles similar to the ones he played with as a child and found a U.S. manufacturer. He ordered a case of every style and color.

After those 85,000 marbles were delivered, word got out about Breslow’s supply, and people started coming to the workshop to buy directly from him. The front of the shop soon became the marble display and retail operation.

Then after Breslow hosted his sons’ Cub Scout den at the workshop and taught them how to play marbles, other organizations started asking if they could come visit.

Breslow and Sproules officially opened Moon Marble in 1997. Sproules said most of the store’s marble inventory comes from other places, such as Mexico, England and West Virginia, home of the only remaining U.S. manufacturer. Orders arrive from around the globe, from as far away as Germany, Australia and New Zealand.

But Breslow also makes his own marbles during free demonstrations that are open to the public.

He learned the craft after his wife gave him a MAPP gas torch and some pieces of Moretti soft glass from a local store. Breslow researched the process and contacted a Colorado glass distributor, who walked him through the process. Breslow used his own finely honed skills as a woodworker to craft his own marble molds.

Depending on the marble’s complexity, the production process can take anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours.

‘Run the Business Like We’re Throwing a Party’

Moon Marble isn’t just a store. It’s also an experience.

The shop hosts an annual art show and participates in a yearly outdoor festival revolving around traditional play and marbles.

Over the years, Moon Marble has received numerous awards, including the Rand McNally Top 20 Best of the Road award. The Kansas Sampler Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving rural culture, has recognized the company as one of the top Eight Wonders of Kansas in the area
of commerce.

Residing in Bonner Springs has been the perfect location for Breslow and Sproules to grow Moon Marble.

“It is great, because of its vicinity to Kansas City and a large population of people and schools to attend our field trip program,” Breslow said. “It is in the heart of America, and we receive travelers from all over the country and all over the world.”

With the start of school and the Kansas City Renaissance Festival, fall is a busy season for Moon Marble. Longtime participants at the annual festival, Moon Marble sells swords and shields at the event.

“We run the business like we’re throwing a party, always trying to think of ways to make an experience that is fun and interesting,” breslow said.

Written by

Ruth Baum Bigus is a freelance writer based in Kansas City.

Categories: KC Made It

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