Some SoMa Properties Developed as Destinations

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 12:00 am  

Esse Purse Museum, founded by Anita Davis, opened in June. (Photo by Michael Pirnique)

Anita Davis has collected women’s purses for many years. In June she opened Esse Purse Museum at 1510 S. Main St. in an Art Deco-influenced building artfully reimagined.

Warwick Sabin, publisher of the Oxford American, has his own vision for what the magazine can become to Little Rock and the state.

Sabin is seeking to leverage the brand name of the magazine into something that represents the best of Southern culture.

“When I took over the Oxford American, it was bankrupt and in debt,” he said. “The first thing I set upon doing was restructuring and reorganizing the organization because it had almost nothing in place that was necessary for it to operate efficiently and effectively. But on top of that I was also doing a strategic analysis of how can we make this work for the long haul.”

Making the magazine work for the long haul involves creating “a cultural institution that’s devoted to preserving and perpetuating Southern culture,” Sabin said. And that’s what the South on Main restaurant and performance venue is dedicated to.

He envisions South on Main becoming a tourist draw, an entity unique to Little Rock that “becomes an essential stop. Maybe it becomes that reason that people choose to spend the night here instead of driving on to the next city.”

Representatives from the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Arkansas Parks & Tourism Department recently brought tour bus operators to visit the neighborhood, Sabin said. And it was clear the tour bus operators were interested in bringing people to SoMa.

Sabin said, “Sometimes when people have interesting and unique visions, it’s hard to get people to comprehend it until they can experience it personally.”



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