Just to bring you up to speed in case you are a fairly new fan/friend of Bella Vita... We just celebrated our 10 year anniversary in November 2018. This date also marked 4 years in our current retail location in the Lafayette Building.
Flash back to December of 2012 when I was listening to the Little Rock NPR station while I was living in Oklahoma. I heard a story about some buildings on Main St. in downtown Little Rock that were soon to be developed and rehabbed in to mixed use buildings. This got me really excited because the whole time we lived in Oklahoma, we knew we would return to Little Rock as soon as possible. I make a few trips to visit to the capitol city to check out these buildings on Main St. Meet with the developer a few times and then finally in March of 2013, I sign a lease on a small studio space in the back of the Arkansas Building on the corner of 6th and Main St.
Matt and I returned to Little Rock the summer of 2013 and I moved Bella Vita in to 3 different temporary spaces (shout out to Julie West, Ellie Roy, and Justin Roberts for housing me when I needed help). Then in October of 2014, the developers of the space I was waiting on offered to let me lease the space in the Lafayette Building, where we are currently, until the studio space next door was ready. I took them up on this offer and set up shop. Work on the Arkansas building next door eventually halted and the project was pretty much abandoned by the original developer. Not sure all the exact details but it sat vacant and mid construction for a really long time. I think there were lawsuits and all sorts of stuff, it was a mess until someone new swooped in and actually finished the project in 2017/2018.
Here are a few old blog posts I dug up if you have any interest in the time line:
Fast forward to Mid February 2019 when I get the news that my friend Matt is moving out of his Gallery space at the end of the month. His space is beautiful. South facing windows, full of light, beautiful wood floors, a tiny little loft for my office -- everything I ever dreamed of and imagined for the original space I signed a lease on! Which, to update you on that, it will now be our storage room as it was never finished out with the rest of the building. And the Gallery space is 100% better because it is larger and has a street presence on 6th St. The exact address is 108 W 6th St, Suite A, Little Rock, AR 72201 -- google it if you want. Or better yet, swing by the shop and I'll show you in person because it is right next door to our current location. I signed the lease the day before I left for my India trip and the day after I made a deal with my Grandfather to purchase my Grandmothers antique button collection. To say 2019 has hit me full force, is an understatement. But, I fully believe that all 3 of these huge life events happening at once were meant to happen, and I've never felt so good about the buttons, the India trip, and the 3 year lease I signed. They are the reason I've busted ass for the past 10 years. I can't wait to share the new space with you! We will have so much more room than we currently have. I plan to curate more visiting artists for Pop Up Shops, Workshops, Events, and more. I want it to be more than a shop, I want it to be a community space where everyone is welcome. I also plan to expand our retail offerings and have lots of surprises in store.
We are going to start moving as soon as we can. The walls need to be painted, the windows need a UV treatment, and we need to demo some shelving in the loft... but other than that, its beautiful and move in ready! My goal is to be open in time for 2nd Friday Art Night in April. Thats a lofty goal though :) Will will keep you updated via our email newsletter and social media.
I truly can't believe that my journey for a home for my little shop has come full circle and I'll be a tenant in the building I originally set out to be in. IF you know me at all, you know I've been window shopping for the perfect space in Downtown Little Rock for years. Being downtown is important to me for many reasons, mostly because I am an old soul and I believe there is so much life in these historic buildings. I also believe in reusing what we have already built, and I just love the vibe of the downtown community.
I hope you will come out and visit us when we get moved and also patronize our amazing new neighbors. We will be next door to the beautiful new Handle Barbershop, and close neighbors to The Rep Theater, Three Fold Noodles, The Arkansas Ballet, Cranford and Co., & the Downtown Partnership.
One last thought, I appreciate everyone that has shopped with us over the years in the Lafayette Building. The space is tiny and I know its gotten cramped at times and I've always appreciated your patience with that. It was the perfect starter space for us and we maximized our opportunity there for 4 1/2 years. It's time for the next step.
See you downtown!
Matt admiring the new view and the extra tall ceilings and the NATURAL LIGHT!!!