December 19, 2011 by Lillian Winkler
PRAIRIE GROVE – Like many of the shops in downtown Prairie Grove, The Locals is a busy place on Saturday afternoon. Shoppers are weaving through the small walkway filled on each side with booths of about 50 vendors, as an employee carries a heavy-looking elephant sculpture out of the shop for a customer, and the rest of the staff is enjoying whatever conversation comes their way.
But The Locals isn’t simply an antique flea market. The new store, which held its grand opening on Dec. 10, is aiming to be a place where the artists and crafters can show off their work year-round, not to mention get in a little studio time.
“People that refurbish their stuff, up-cycle, that make their own crafts, they don’t have a place to go. That was my idea behind this,” said co-owner Kay Shreve. “ [The Locals is here] to give people who really can’t afford to do their own business or have their big own place but want to sell their stuff and do their own thing. This gives them a place to do it.”
A member of the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market, Shreve said there was a need for a place where crafters could set up shop. (When he’s not carrying elephants for customers, her husband John does woodwork, which is displayed on store’s sidewalk.)
Other booths include hand-made wooden bowls, quilts, a vintage pump-organ, painted pottery and in the mix there are some “redneck wind chimes” made from beer cans (the large and truly impressive wind chimes are farther back in the store). Vendor Toni Brown is a perfect example of the mix of craftsmanship and antiques that The Locals is offering. She shows off her stuffed booth, which is filled not only with vintage china but also antique tables she’s redone.
“That’s what we’re all about,” says Kay Shreve. “A lot of the stuff is things people have had theirhands on.”
Apart from a place where crafters and antique-finders can leave their treasures, The Locals is alsopart artists’ hangout, part studio. They’ve already had one vendors’ potluck and are planning more events. As people move in and out of the tight space, the most interactive display is the live art show happening at the front entrance.
“Jeri Faulkner does pottery and will bring her wheel and try to do pottery at the window,” saysShreve. “It’s a place where people can see our crafters do their craft.”
Occupying The Locals’ large window space at the moment is Joyce Donahoe. The prolific artist has several paintings on display (all for sale) but she also has her easel set up and is doing on-the-spot portraits for any interested people.
“I do like the fact that I have the window because artists are eccentric,” says Donahoe with a laugh. She fits right in with the fun atmosphere of The Locals.