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.

Nine buildings at the main site, covering 60,000 SF, are filled with antiques and vintage items from the 1750s through the 1940s.

Morris also owns the Crystal Hill Antique Mall in North Little Rock. He said he planned to move his entire business there in the 1980s when the antique mall concept was sweeping across the country, but realized that "there was too much to move" and so he has stayed put at Keo.

Morris said his aunt, Aurelia Venable, was big into antiques and got him interested in them. While he was still farming, Morris said, people would come to him and ask if they could get certain "primitive" antiques, hot items at the time.

During the slow times in farming, he went from farmhouse to farmhouse looking for items. Next thing he knew, he had filled his house and had to build a small building next to it to house the antiques. He gave up farming in 1980 and turned his full attention to the antique business.

"It's been a fun business," Morris said.

Over the 40 years, he has made lots of connections with dealers overseas and in the United States and has constantly sought better quality furnishings.

Interior decorators from around the country have found Morris Antiques a convenient place to find much of what they want under one roof.

Morris said one reason his business has been so successful is because he tries to keep prices reasonable.

"People hear the word "antiques," and they associate it with high price, but that's not always the case," he said. And the quality of fine solid wood pieces can seldom be matched with much of modern furniture, especially imports from China, he said.

Over time, Morris said, he has upgraded to better, more unusual pieces, but he credits service as another big reason for his success.

"We have trained people to restore pieces," he said. Morris said the restoration part of the business now takes up much of his time and is a growing part of the operation. He replaces the leather on a desk, re-silvers mirrors and carves pieces of wood to match missing parts.

Morris has sold half-interest in the business to his son, Lewis, and his daughter, Terrie Collins.



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