FORT SMITH -- Life changes opened the door for Precious Rodgers to pursue a passion -- and in turn, open one of the only juiceries in the area.
Rodgers in March opened Karpos Juicery -- only the second locally owned juicing business in the Fort Smith area. Through her business, Rodgers offers fresh-squeezed juices, popsicles, wellness shots and fruit bowls out of her freezer cart.
With Karpos, Rodgers hopes to give people in the area "a way to live longer, healthier lives," she said. Rodgers also said she speaks to people every day who say they don't feel Fort Smith has enough healthy options like hers.
"This is awesome, to have more options for healthy things in the area," said Brandon Parker, owner of Carrot Dirt Organics, the other juicery in the Fort Smith area.
Rodgers, a speech pathologist, opened Karpos when her son was born in 2020, during covid-19. She started the juicery as a way to create income while staying home, she said.
The business also offered an opportunity for her to use her nutrition certification to educate customers on health and wellness, she said.
Karpos -- the ancient greek word for "fruit" -- cost $5,000 to get off the ground, she said. The startup costs included a juicer, mobile cart, freezer cart and produce. Rodgers uses her mobile cart for pop-up shops.
Rodgers said all her juices are cold-pressed without additives. Her products include the "Green Goodness" juice with kale, apple, lemon, cucumber and ginger and wellness shots with ginger, apple and lemon.
The wellness shots are meant for quick consumption, she said.
"It kind of can boost energy, provide immune system support and all of that kind of stuff in just a little vial," she said.
Antioch for Youth & Family owner Charolette Tidwell, whose nonprofit serves hundreds of thousands of meals each year in western Arkansas, said she admires Rodgers' focus on nutrition.
Since launching her business, Rodgers has been "popping up all over the city" getting the word out about her business and educating customers about her products, she said. She's frequented the farmer's market downtown on Saturdays, she said.
Rodgers on July 14 hosted a pop-up shop at the Bakery District, a multipurpose retail, restaurant and event space downtown. Since then, she's regularly operated out of the public facility's trailer.
She's also sold her juices out of the bookstore Bookish, located at the Bakery District.
"Everybody has a different business model, and I think that that's something where you've got to meet people where they are on certain things," said Parker.
While those who operate the Bakery District have hosted other pop-ups at the facility, property manager Lashelle Rolandelli hopes Karpos is a fixture.
"She's really awesome to work with," Rolandelli said. "We like supporting her, and she supports us by bringing people here."
Rodgers' stay at the Bakery fits into pop-up store trends in recent years. A 2019 survey of 600 retailers worldwide by Storefront Magazine and the University of South Carolina showed 80% of respondents who had done at least one pop-up said the activation was a success.
Karpos is in a "trial period" that Rodgers hopes will evolve into a long-term stint with the Bakery District, she said.
Rodgers said the number of opportunities that have come her way since opening Karpos might accelerate her timeline to purchase a food truck for her business. She also hopes to eventually own a gym with a juice shop inside, she said.
But Rodgers said health education is more important than the business side of Karpos.
"To see it coming and migrating to Fort Smith, it's been great, and it's been a great response," Rodgers said of healthy options.