No matter what else you might think about the place, you can’t accuse I.O. Metro of burying its lead.
Walk five feet inside the door and you’re face to face with a gigantic, intricately painted elephant statue, complete with wheeled platform. It’s the most striking piece in a store that’s in no danger of being described as pedestrian.
At $3,000, it may also be the most expensive, although I didn’t get to check every price tag on my recent visit. But if there’s one thing other than its merchandise — contemporary furniture, mostly, with some funky tableware, bedding and jumbo-sized accessories — that I.O. Metro’s become known for in its first few weeks, it’s the prices.
A lot of the furniture is under $300 — including a pair of half-circle-shaped burgundy leather chairs, $200 each, which I fell in love with not only because of their unusual half-circle shape, but because they were proportioned for the stumpy-legged. I’d happily pay a lot more for the elusive pleasure of being able to sit up halfway straight and keep my feet on the ground.
The accessories are modern too — think ’50s prints and organic shapes, in white and bright colors. The primary line is eq3, which you can check out at www.eq3.com if you want to get a better idea. Or just go on out to the store — it’s at Cantrell and Sam Peck roads, close in by West Little Rock standards. There’s definitely enough here to justify a Christmas-shopping foray — who wouldn’t want a lamp shaped like a mushroom cap? And for the person who has everything, including a large amount of empty space in his house, there’s the set of what I can only describe as King-Kong-sized metal canteens. I couldn’t get close enough to check the price, but if you’ve got that much space and nothing better to fill it with, the odds are you can afford them.
Speaking of Christmas, a few random finds:
Solemates, the new shoe store in the Heights, carries a line of umbrellas by Echo ($33) that come in a range of colorful retro patterns — polka dots, blocks stripes. Just the thing to brighten drab winter days.
Best cheap Christmas ornament: A very Grinch-esque lime-green polka-dot tree and matching hot-pink polka-dot star, $6 each at Beyond the Garden Gate, also in the Heights. If you like your decorations whimsical, these are for you.
Close second: A reindeer can-can dancer (OK, her tag says “formal reindeer,” but she looks a little racier than that to me), $9 at Open House on Cantrell. There’s a matching reindeer-in-a-tux ornament if you’re wedded to the whole “formal” interpretation, but I prefer the can-can.
For the neat freak in your life, even (especially) if it’s yourself, Stack-n-Rack, a couple of doors down from Open House, has about half a dozen different gift wrap organizers. A couple hang from closet bars, one’s designed specifically for gift bags, and there’s a jumbo-sized one that comes on wheels.
Another gift to give yourself: A jar of roasted-garlic-and-onion jelly ($7.50) from the Sauce Co. No, seriously. They had a sample jar poured over warm brie at the December Late Night in the Heights event, and I’m not ashamed to say that I feigned a powerful interest in the nearby Le Creuset bakeware to excuse my failure to keep moving.
Naughty or nice?