Arkansas' Destination Draws Customers Come From Far and Wide

by John Henry  on Monday, Sep. 24, 2007 12:00 am  

Stan and Dorcas Prince run the largest bridal shop in the South at Brinkley.

Arkansas is home to a number of businesses in small towns or rural areas that have become "destination" draws, attracting customers to their remote locations from far away.

Most of these businesses don't offer anything unique, but something draws people to them. In talking with the owners of these destination sites, one finds a common denominator: They are genuine, open, friendly, hard working and, more than anything else, willing to do whatever it takes to please or serve their customers.

Narrowing down the list of business was a task, and no doubt others could be included.

Because the list was limited to businesses that could provide their goods or services anywhere, destinations such as Gaston's White River Resort and the wineries around Paris and Altus were eliminated. And the limitation meant such places as McClard's in Hot Springs or A.J. Russell Knives in Rogers had to be cut since both are in MSAs, or Metropolitan Statistical Areas.

We did debate over Ranger Boats at Flippin. Could it be anywhere? Well, if there's water around.

One business that is relatively new but that could become a destination draw is the Parachute Inn at Walnut Ridge. Donna Robertson, the owner, took a retired Southwest Airlines Boeing 727 and transformed it into a novel restaurant. It's at the Walnut Ridge Airport grounds.

Others that are certainly destination spots include Lois Gean's, a boutique at Magnolia that draws fashionistas from far and wide; Mack's Prairie Wings at Stuttgart; Aromatique at Heber Springs; Antique Warehouse at Botkinburg, which with 90,000 SF of showrooms is one of the largest antique dealers in the mid-South; and Paul Michael Co. at Lake Village, which features rugs and home furnishings.

Here's a closer look at three more destination businesses:

Morris Antiques

Folks looking for fine antiques know they need look no further than Morris Antiques at Keo.

Dean Morris, a farmer who started the business as a hobby in 1967, has seen it grow from a house full of antiques to a business taking up 12 buildings in the tiny historic town between Scott and England. These buildings house unusual furnishings primarily from the United States, England, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

About 50 percent of his inventory is American, Morris said, with the other half a mixture of furnishings from Western Europe.

What makes Morris Antiques so appealing to so many is that just about anything anyone is looking for can be found in one place - from dining tables to bed sets, armoires, desks, bookcases, lamp tables, dressers, chests, nightstands, hall trees, etageres and chairs.



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