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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/LARA HIGHTOWER Southern Mercantile Antiques is open seven days a week in Prairie Grove and boasts more than 8,000 square feet of antique and vintage shopping.

When the 8,000-square-foot Southern Mercantile Antiques store -- located at 107 E. Buchanan St. in Prairie Grove -- celebrates its grand opening Saturday, shoppers can rejoice in the the fact that the building's history is being restored and honored -- as well as the huge selection of vintage and antique goods found within. Owner Carrie Kass Nelson has taken great pains to leave the building's bones as they were when it was built around 1896, and the upscale antique market's contents -- many of which are authentic antiques, wood polished to a warm glow -- celebrate that earlier era.

"We've found that people are saying, 'Oh my gosh, where did all these antiques come from?'" says Nelson of the reaction to the new store. "People aren't used to seeing a building full of good quality, original antiques. They're used to flea markets. We're trying to rescue the antiques that have been lost over time to the vintage and painted look." Nelson's deft touch at store styling -- she's also an interior design consultant -- can be found throughout the store.


Southern Mercantile Antiques

Grand Opening

WHEN — 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Saturday

WHERE — 107 E. Buchanan in Prairie Grove

COST — Free

INFO — 846-4770

"I am hearing that customers like the way the store is styled," she says. "They're getting ideas, they can focus on styling and see how they can display things in their own homes."

"[Carrie] can make a vignette out of anything," says Nelson's husband, Larry. "She can take merchandise and turn it into better merchandise, just by what she does to it."

But Nelson is quick to point out that while the store -- which includes separate booths stocked by individual vendors -- has an emphasis on traditional antiques, it also offers a wide variety of goods aimed at pleasing a range of vintage and antiques shoppers, much like the original mercantile that operated out of the space until 1987.

"Whatever you wanted, they sold it," says Larry, pointing out the old wrapping paper that was found in the storeroom of the store when it was sold in 1987 that reads "undertaker and ambulance service." Similarly, Southern Mercantile Antiques is one-stop shopping for those looking to fill their homes with antique, vintage and vintage-inspired goods. In addition to classic antiques, the store boasts handmade soaps, handcrafted jewelry (the proceeds of one line they carry, Beljoy, benefits women in Haiti), original art by local artists, romantic and bohemian-styled clothing, baked goods and, yes, the painted furniture that has been so popular over the last decade.

"We're kind of rebuilding the idea of the classic mercantile," notes Larry Nelson.

Carrie Nelson says she's committed to preserving the history of the building, complete with keeping the huge Coca-Cola mural painted on the west side of the store sometime in the 1940s, and her shoppers have expressed gratitude that this piece of Prairie Grove history isn't going anywhere.

"It's so sweet," says Nelson. "One lady stood here staring at the taffy counter and told me that she remembers when her grandfather would take her to the store and they would get saltwater taffy. Another man said that his grandfather was put in the jail behind the building because when he came in to get a shoe for his horse, they tried to sell him the wrong size, and he brought his horse into the store to prove it -- and they put him in jail for three days!"

The grand opening celebration will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday with drawings for gift certificates and prizes. Fresh baked goods from Croute, a Prairie Grove bakery, will be available.

NAN What's Up on 09/22/2017

Print Headline: History Repeats Itself

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