The only good thing about one store going out of business is the anticipation of what will come in its place. And in the case of a couple of recent closings, just knowing that something else is coming in at all.
Lauren J., a women’s and children’s clothing boutique, opened about a month ago in the Park Hill space vacated by Cornucopia last December. Owner Jayme Morrisette Ragar, a longtime veteran of the retail biz, said it’s an expansion of a gift business she operated with her sister out of the Shoppes at Woodlawn Place in Hillcrest.
“We just felt like North Little Rock needed a cute little boutique,” she said.
Does it ever. I live on the north side of the river, and while I love many things about it, the dearth of non-chain shopping and dining options is not one of them. The Argenta and Park Hill neighborhoods are welcome exceptions.
But back to Lauren J. The store is in one of those neat old-house-turned-shop spaces that Hillcrest and Park Hill are full of, and Ragar has filled two rooms with women’s clothes and two with children’s. She said she’s trying to stock lines you won’t find elsewhere in this market, but some names you might recognize: Hartstrings, Bailey Boys, Harlow jeans. The shop is at 3507 JFK and is open until 5:30 p.m. on weekdays, 5 p.m. on Saturdays, or by appointment for you more high-maintenance types.
Also: The shell of AfrJaMex International won’t be left empty for long. The Rivermarket District purveyor of exotic, affordable curios and home décor will probably be gone by the time you read this, but another retail tenant is already lined up to take its place: Ten Thousand Villages, a chain I’m familiar with from sojourns in other cities. Expect some of the same kind of merchandise, only from a wider range of countries — India, Peru, the Philippines. Ten Thousand Villages is a “fair trade” retailer, which basically means it treats its Third-World artisan suppliers like human beings. More about this concept in a future column. You’ll have to wait until the store opens in a month or two to buy anything, but in the meantime, take a sneak peek at
• If you’re reading this on Thursday or Friday, hie thee on over to Barbara/Jean on Cantrell Road and check out the medallion creations of jewelry designer Sandra Goodkind. She makes one-of-a-kind pieces using antiquey, vintage elements like cameos, plus lots of pearls and colored stones. It’s beautiful stuff — check out the photo. Goodkind’s publicist tells us her creations come in a wide range of prices, so you don’t necessarily have to run with the trunk-show set to find something for yourself here.
• You’ve missed the 9 a.m. Thursday ribbon-cutting, but you’ve got until 5:30 p.m. to check out the new Goodwill store on its opening day. It’s in the Galleria center, 9700 N. Rodney Parham. Good cause, cheap clothes. Great combination.
• And while we’re discussing Thursday, this one is the first of the month, and that means late-night (relatively speaking) shopping ops in the Heights and Hillcrest. The folks at Chameleon Art Glass tell me this month’s emphasis is art, and many of the galleries will have artists and refreshments on hand. Bon artpetit! (I know. I’m groaning too.)
• Speaking of art, Cantrell Gallery’s having all kinds of events to celebrate its 35th anniversary, but the one of most interest to shoppers is an offer to donate $35 to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra during the month of April for every new custom framing order placed. Make sure you mention the ASO.
• I’m a little late getting this one out there, but Heights decor store Cobblestone and Vine has opened a second location in the Riverdale design district. Its name, Cobblestone and Vine Loft, fits — it’s in that row of warehouses in front of Cajun’s Wharf. Owner Sarah Henry tells us the idea of the Loft store is to show how the same furniture and accessories found in the shabby-chic Heights store can be used to create a more urban look as well. Plus, there’s plenty of room to show off the remaining inventory from now-defunct Carissa’s Armoires, which C&V bought.
• Posh, a furniture/decor store in the same Chenal Parkway strip mall as Bed Bath and Beyond, is lighting out for points even farther west: A 10,000-square-foot space in the Highway 10 shopping center officially known as Dogwood Commons, but best known as that one that has Izzy’s in it. Owner Cliff Ford told me he expects to have the new store open and stocked by April 15. Meanwhile, you’ve still got a few days to take advantage of Posh’s moving sale at the soon-to-be-closed location.
•, a Little Rock-based enterprise, is celebrating 30 years in business by discounting some category of merchandise by 30 percent each month — but only at the company’s brick-and-mortar store. In April, it’s floral garden banners. Check ’em out at 800 W. Ninth Street, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays.
Let your freak flag fly, baby.