Welcome to the inaugural Vulture Edition of Shopping Chick, wherein I discuss the fantastic bargains to be had as two great Little Rock stores prepare to flip the “Open” sign to “Closed” for the last time.
The first is AfrJaMex, purveyor of exotic curios and home decor, and one of the few retail tenants left in the River Market district. Owner Thelma Joshua told me she’s “retiring again” after seven years on President Clinton Avenue, and plans to be out by the end of the month. I have to admit I haven’t been in this store often, and I’m still not sure how to pronounce its name, but I walk past it almost every day and the enormous elephant and giraffe figurines in the front window always make me smile. I’ve also been planning for months to buy a bright metal lizard wall sculpture to liven up a particularly dull patch of wall in my bathroom…no better time than the present, I guess, especially since everything over $20 is half price.
Out there on the high-altitude end of Cantrell Hill, the Heights is bidding a sad farewell to Freddie’s, a Kavanaugh Boulevard institution for decades and the best place in town to look for seriously old-school office supplies. (On a trip last week to check out the bargains, I came across a little booklet designed for keeping track of employees’ hours worked. On the inside cover there was a table for figuring the total pay for x number of hours at x rate, and the hourly wage topped out at $5.)
Freddie’s isn’t technically going out of business — a change in ownership of their building has resulted in a decision to change location. (Yes, I know, I’m leaving out the juicy details, but in this column, it’s all about the capitalism, baby — what to buy and where to buy it.) So Freddie’s will be closing by April 9 — it could be a week earlier — and will reopen by May 1 in the Pinnacle Valley shopping center on Highway 10 near Taylor Loop Road (that’s the same shopping center as Cotham’s and Fuller & Son Hardware). But they’re dropping the Hallmark part of the business — the “upstairs” half of the Kavanaugh store — and continuing just as a stationery/printing/office supply operation. There’s still plenty of merchandise, some as much as 75 percent off, and it’s all marked down at least a little — even the do-it-yourself divorce and will kits along the back wall downstairs. Greeting cards are 30 percent off, so it’s a great time to stock up — they’ve even got leftover Christmas and Valentine’s cards out.
And now on to happier news:
• Narcissa Jackson at Bella Boutique tells me she’s just gotten in a “very exclusive” line of perfumes by Beth Terry, formerly the scent designer (who knew there was such a thing?) for Dolce and Gabbana. There are four scents — Te, Mare, Element of Surprise and Vita — each of which seems to be a blend of teas, fruits and flowers. Price is $68 for 4.3 fl. oz.
• Vesta’s, the clothing/home/gift shop in Bowman Curve, is holding a trunk show for CP Shades, a casual clothing line, this weekend (March 12-13).
• Mr. Wicks, the Heights men’s clothier, is having a trunk show for the Samuelsohn line from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday, March 16. Samuelsohn’s high-end suits, trousers and sport coats are the store’s best sellers, I’m told. Sounds like a prime opportunity to take your well-off but slovenly significant other in for a wardrobe upgrade…
• Coming up at Barbara/Jean: Dress for Success week, March 21-25. Bring in a nice older suit and B/J will give you 20 percent off a new one. The store will pass along the older suits to Dress for Success, an organization that provides professional clothing and programs to help low-income women get jobs and succeed in the mainstream workplace.
• If you’ve been waiting with bated breath for that promised Bass Pro Shops location to open up in that patch of swampland on the north side of the river…no, there’s still no news on that, but a Minnesota-based outdoor retailer called Gander Mountain will be moving into the empty Wal-Mart box on Landers Road in Sherwood early this summer. They carry everything from clothes to ATVs to guns to live bait to camping equipment and “cabin decor,” although a spokesman tells me you won’t find the “spectacle” a Bass Pro Shops store offers. Translation: No indoor waterfalls here, folks.