Owners Mike and Sara Adams
Creative Concept: BrickCity Emporium
BrickCity Emporium, located at Rogers Avenue and South 74th Street, has an inclusive concept for offering everything from home décor and clothing to original art and gourmet foods. Inside are more than 150 independent retail suites, all operated by different owners.
BrickCity Emporium is the brainchild of Fort Smith natives Sara and Mike Adams. The idea came to Sara while visiting the annual Junior League Holiday Market. She loved that she could visit such great shops all in one place, but wished the event could last even longer.
Having owned a successful small business for many years, the Adamses understand the challenge of operating a brick-and-mortar store. They envisioned a place where talented artists and specialty merchants could sell year-round. Their goal, accomplished when BrickCity opened in September, allows vendors to lease an efficient space with shared customer services.
Vendors choose from a space as compact as a 2-by-9-foot wall display or up to 120-square-foot suites within the 20,000-square-foot store. BrickCity provides a full staff to assist shoppers, ring up purchases and tend each shop as if it were their own. Professional merchandisers, mostly interior decorators, can "stage" beautiful displays for those who would like help. The result is a beautifully presented, upscale bazaar with each suite more surprising and tempting than the last.
Under one roof, shoppers may encounter items as different as pottery by an award-winning artist, custom-made children's clothing, photography services or organic, hand-crafted soaps, cosmetics and fragrances, to name only a few of the temptations within.
At the store's spacious entrance, the front counter is surrounded by a gallery of original artwork and a dazzling preview of items.
Like a city, the emporium is organized by streets. Each hall has a street name, such as Yellow Brick Road, Zippity Lane and Red Pig Road, so every suite can easily be located.
At the crossroads in the mall's center is the Patio, a comfortable gathering place for refreshments, where tall trees hang over bistro tables, a fountain and a wishing well. Soon, River City Deli will offer its made-from-scratch, delectable food with coffees and teas.
Beyond the Patio - more shopping! The variety is astounding, especially in locally made, hand-crafted jewelry; quilting and needle arts and fine arts, including paintings and sculpture.
Many suites offer both goods and services, such as artwork plus custom framing or interior design services that also offer retail furniture and home accessories.
The emporium also presents live events, holding fashion shows and demonstrations. (Scarf-tying is very popular.) Artists and crafts people can be seen creating their work on-site. Cosmetic and skin care consultants may offer live makeovers. Children are welcomed with face-painting on many days, plus other fun, free activities. Wednesday nights are movie nights, providing children a safe place to play and watch a G-rated movie while parents shop or gather for meetings.
The Adamses are giving back to the community in several imaginative ways. Coins thrown into the wishing well will be donated to a local nonprofit organization every three months. A free suite called the The Community Corner is available, by turns, to local nonprofit groups who may promote their cause or sell items for fundraising purposes.
"We really want to help people," Sara explained. "Whether it is a small business owner or a not-for-profit organization, we wanted to offer them a wholesome place to come and live out their dream or raise money for charity."
In the near future, BrickCity plans to sell their merchants' items on eBay. BrickCity's staff will take care of all the marketing and shipping that is involved with selling online.
Storewide bridal and baby registries are offered. Gift wrapping is free. Space also is available for meetings, classes and parties.
3215 South 74th Street (adjacent to Hank's Fine Furniture)
Fort Smith, Ark.
On Facebook: Brick City Emporium