Acumen Brands Delivering New Life To Fayetteville's Old Post Office

by Chris Bahn  on Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 12:00 am  

Whenever Jim Huson passed the Old Post Office on the Fayetteville Square, he was reminded of his childhood. Huson grew up in Heber Springs, where his grandfather served as postmaster and his father worked for the Postal Service, so the 102-year-old structure held plenty of sentimental value.

Huson, who owns a pair of Doe’s Eat Place franchises in northwest Arkansas, also viewed the building, vacant and on the market since 2009, as too good of an opportunity to pass up.

In June he purchased 1 W. Center St. from Ron Bumpass for $1.5 million. Within a month, Huson had reached a three-year lease agreement with Acumen Brands of Fayetteville.

Thanks to Huson, the more than 13,000-SF building has new life. And Huson is glad to be the one to provide it.

“I’d always looked at it and thought about what a beautiful piece of property it was, wondering why nobody was there,” Huson said. “Town squares aren’t around much anymore, so there was intrigue there. And I grew up in the post office in Heber Springs. … There were a lot of things that made it attractive and a number of reasons that it came together to make a real comfortable package.”

Acumen Brands of Fayetteville will use the buildings as a brick and mortar location for online apparel store Country Outfitter and also offer handbags from Maple & West, which previously existed only as online businesses. Aug. 30 is scheduled as the grand opening.

COO Terry Turpin said the building was attractive for a number of reasons, including a layout that will allow the space to be shared with food and beverage vendors. The Old Post Office’s status as a Fayetteville landmark was the primary selling point.

“We’re a Fayetteville company, and we might have investors from outside the state but we’re not going anywhere,” Turpin said. “We started here. We’re going to finish here. Really, as we looked at potential retail space, that’s the center of Fayetteville and Fayetteville is part of our DNA.

“It was a very natural choice to move into that space and take a great building that was sitting there empty and do something fun with it.”

Despite the iconic status and popularity of the Old Post Office, it has been a disappointment as a business location. Huson is just the second owner since the U.S. Postal Service put it on the market in the 1960s, and the building has housed primarily food-service operations since.

What made the location prime and popular among locals also created a bit of a downside: The square is home to the Fayetteville Farmers Market, which takes up parking spaces from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays and 7 a.m.-1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Jimmy Rapert owned and operated the Old Post Office Restaurant in the space from 1995-98. Just down the street from the restaurant, Rapert also ran JR’s Light Bulb Club. Neighbors on the square and on Block Street were primarily a collection of local merchants who felt a kinship, he recalled. Rapert, who now manages local properties and runs Advanced Building & Home Services, called owning the businesses near the square “one of my favorite stages of life.”



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