HER Cover

Down­town Hot Springs presents am­ple op­por­tu­nity to shop this hol­i­day sea­son

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Contents - Story and pho­tog­ra­phy by Grace Brown

Hol­i­day shop­ping guide Down­town Hot Springs presents am­ple op­por­tu­nity to shop lo­cal this hol­i­day sea son

T is the sea­son to shop lo­cal.

Down­town Hot Springs has been alive with the hus­tle and bus­tle usu­ally seen as the tourist sea­son waxes and wanes, but now it is lo­cal shop­pers fill­ing the side­walks in hopes of mark­ing the per­fect hol­i­day gift off their lists.

Down­town boasts a wide va­ri­ety of unique shops, art gal­leries, and res­tau­rants, as the ar­eas to the north and south of the his­toric dis­trict see their own growth spurts. The re­cent resur­gence in busi­nesses leaves lit­tle room for ex­cuses not to check out one of the many unique shops lin­ing the street down­town.

Lau­ray’s — The Di­a­mond Cen­ter has served the com­mu­nity from the same lo­ca­tion for more than 90 years, stay­ing faith­ful to the down­town area de­spite chal­lenges pre­sented over the years. Their stead­fast com­mit­ment to their roots gets fam­i­lies com­ing back to them for gen­er­a­tions and gen­er­a­tions, owner Mark Fleis­chner said.

Just re­cently, the jew­elry store an­nounced a merger with Mur­phy-Pi­tard Jewel­ers of El Do­rado. While many were shocked to hear the news, newly formed busi­ness part­ners Toddy Pi­tard and Fleis­chner said it just seemed like the only log­i­cal move to make af­ter Fleis­chner de­cided to en­ter­tain the idea of re­tire­ment.

“When we met Toddy and Amanda Pi­tard, it was al­most im­me­di­ate that we re­al­ized that their thought process, if you will, in be­ing a jew­eler (and) a jew­elry com­pany in a thriv­ing town made it so Lau­ray’s and Mur­phy-Pi­tard were just a nat­u­ral fit,” Fleis­chner said.

“It did not hap­pen overnight, for sure. The com­ment that Mark made to me was, ‘You know, we’re think­ing about re­tir­ing but we’re re­ally not want­ing to just walk out of the jew­elry busi­ness. If you want us to do that …,’ and I said, ‘If you want to do that, I’m not your buyer. I want you guys in­volved,” Pi­tard said.

Dur­ing the early phases of the dis­cus­sion process, Pi­tard said they both felt a merger of the two busi­nesses would ben­e­fit both stores in the long run. By com­bin­ing over 170 years of ex­pe­ri­ence as jewel­ers, the newly formed part­ners felt it would help them serve cus­tomers at a higher ca­pac­ity and open the door for fu­ture up­grades in­side and out­side the build­ing, in­clud­ing up­grad­ing dis­play cases, re­vert­ing the store’s ex­te­rior back to its orig­i­nal form, and even open­ing a sec­ond lo­ca­tion.

Now that they com­pleted their union, Fleis­chner and Pi­tard can fo­cus on mov­ing for­ward while still as­sist­ing their cus­tomers in find­ing just the right gift for that spe­cial some­one. With more buy­ing power as a re­sult of the merger, they have the abil­ity to of­fer a much wider va­ri­ety of gem­stones at com­pet­i­tive prices.

Lau­ray’s of­fers a huge se­lec­tion of af­ford­able jew­elry along­side high­end lines.

“Jew­elry lasts; es­pe­cially when it is prop­erly main­tained. For many peo­ple, while it’s some­what en­vi­ous from the stand­point of what you may wear, but the sym­bolic na­ture of a wed­ding band that du­pli­cates what my fa­ther wore has dra­matic mean­ing. It cre­ates a mem­ory and as we all know, mem­o­ries last for­ever. I think jew­elry is about the mem­ory and what that piece rep­re­sents,” Fleis­chner said.

Lau­ray’s car­ries lines like Pan­dora bracelets, John Hardy, Va­han, and Shy, giv­ing cus­tomers as many price op­tions as there are styles. Pi­tard ad­vised that di­a­mond studs al­ways serve as a great gift for any oc­ca­sion, laugh­ing that he has prob­a­bly sold three pairs to ev­ery­one in El Do­rado.

“They’re good, they’re clas­sic and if they al­ready have a smaller pair, up­grade to a big­ger set,” Pi­tard said.

Just fur­ther up the down­town strip, Mary Matthews set up shop just un­der two years ago with Blushed Beauty Bou­tique. What started as a way for Matthews to keep busy af­ter re­tir­ing from the med­i­cal field quickly turned into a thriv­ing beauty bou­tique spe­cial­iz­ing in in­de­pen­dent cos­met­ics, gift items, and soon, skin care.

“I am big on small in­die lines. I can’t com­pete with the big boxed stores so I try to find things that you can’t find at other stores. I am also big on us­ing all- nat­u­ral and or­ganic prod­ucts when I can get them,” Matthews said.

As the hol­i­days ap­proached, she made the de­ci­sion to in­cor­po­rate items more suited for stock­ing stuffer in hopes of grab­bing the at­ten­tion of lo­cal shop­pers. Much of what she sells is ex­clu­sive to beauty prod­ucts, but the store con­tains a nice se­lec­tion of soaps, shower and bath bombs, and nov­elty items that make great hol­i­day gifts for any­one. With the colder weather, skin care be­comes more and more im­por­tant.

The ma­jor­ity of prod­ucts sold at Blushed are quite af­ford­able. Items in the store range from as lit­tle as $6 for a bath bomb to as much as $130 for eye­lash treat­ments.

One of Matthews’ most pop­u­lar lines is the in­die cos­metic line Frankie Rose. The line of­fers a full range of makeup from foun­da­tions that of­fer great cov­er­age to long-last­ing liq­uid lip­sticks and ev­ery prod­uct is gen­tle on skin. The for­mula is so light and airy, it’s al­most like you’re not wear­ing any makeup.

“I do a lot of re­search into brands be­fore bring­ing them into my store. I get on the web­sites of beauty blog­gers, I go to an in­die beauty expo to try to find new things. There are a lot of smaller lines just try­ing to make it. They are very hun­gry and agree­able,” Matthews said.

Blushed is housed in­side a small sec­tion of the Wa­ters ho­tel. As their busi­ness grows, Matthews says she sees more and more bridal par­ties com­ing through the doors. In a de­ci­sive busi­ness de­ci­sion, she chose to hire on two makeup artists who as­sist cus­tomers with try­ing out the many unique lines, ap­pli­ca­tion tech­niques, and give full makeovers upon re­quest.

“We talk to the client to see if they want a dra­matic look or a more nat­u­ral look and then from there, our makeup artist matches your skin town and does your makeup how­ever you want. If you don’t know what you’d like and just want to see some­thing dif­fer­ent, we do that too,” she said.

As hol­i­day par­ties ap­proach, Matthews says she ex­pects to have peo­ple book­ing ap­point­ments for makeovers and sched­ul­ing makeovers for gifts.

In more re­cent years, the resur­gence of down­town Hot Springs ex­tended fur­ther up Cen­tral and even­tu­ally onto Park Av­enue. The res­i­dences fondly re­fer to the area as “Up­town” and spent years work­ing to change the area’s rep­u­ta­tion one busi­ness at a time.

Housed atop a small hill be­hind Red Light Roast­ery is Bri­ana Moore’s Lark­martin Soaps stu­dio. Af­ter leav­ing her job as an in­te­rior de­signer, she be­gan her own busi­ness ven­ture that al­lowed her to say at home more with her chil­dren. She first started mak­ing soaps 12 years ago and once she re­al­ized there was a mar­ket for her prod­uct, she be­gan sell­ing soaps, lo­tions, and sugar scrubs.

“It’s just evolved from set­ting up at the farm­ers mar­ket to be­ing here now,” Moore said.

Her prod­ucts are proudly dis­played in­side Red Light Roast­ery, which she and her hus­band also own, but can be found all through­out Hot Springs. Lark­martin Soaps are also fea­tured at Blushed Beauty Bou­tique, State and Pride, Thai-Me Spa, the Wa­ters Ho­tel, and sev­eral other shops around the state.

“I make every­thing my­self in small batches. My soaps lather re­ally nice and just make your skin feel so nice. They are based in mainly olive oil and fra­grances with high-qual­ity soap fra­grances and es­sen­tial oils. I have a whole se­lec­tion of dif­fer­ent fra­grances and scents,” Moore said.

Be­cause she makes every­thing by hand, Moore said she quickly had to learn how to gauge or­ders and en­sure she had enough sup­ply to meet de­mands for her soaps. Around the hol­i­day sea­son, she starts mak­ing soaps, scrubs, and scents spe­cific to the sea­son. Her big­gest sellers right now are the North Pole scent and Frank­in­cense & Myrhh.

“I like to think that all my fra­grances are gen­der neu­tral so you can find some­thing for any­body.

Soap is some­thing that you will use It’s not just go­ing to sit and take up space. It’s kind of a use­ful lux­ury,” Moore said.

Moore said her prod­ucts are also great for sen­si­tive skin. While she does not claim to be a doc­tor, Moore said her soaps are sooth­ing and do not ir­ri­tate the skin. Still, she ad­vises her al­lergy-prone cus­tomers to read all the la­bels.

Both down­town and up­town Hot Springs have so much to of­fer lo­cals this hol­i­day shop­ping sea­son. While shop­ping on­line of­ten ap­peals to the de­sire of in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion, noth­ing beats walk­ing into a store where the peo­ple work­ing can an­swer your spe­cific ques­tions and help you find the per­fect prod­uct for even the hard­est-to-please per­son.

“When you shop lo­cal, you are sup­port­ing your com­mu­nity and the peo­ple in your com­mu­nity try­ing to make qual­ity prod­ucts,” Moore said.


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.