Small locally owned business around downtown Fayetteville make the town the unique, eclectic place that stands out from any other city in Arkansas. The Petra Caf?, Arsaga's, Bike City, Flora, Sound Warehouse, and Hugo's are just a few that a new student should patronize to get a real feel of what Fayetteville is about - community.

The Petra Caf?, located on Center Street, serves Mediterranean food during lunch from Monday to Saturday. Jordanian Saleh Four is the owner of the restaurant, which opened February 2003. The food served is mostly the type of cuisine found in Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Syria. This type of food concentrates on garbanzo beans, and most things are in dip form. Saleh had always wanted to open a Middle Eastern restaurant in Fayetteville, said son and employee Amjad.

"A personal quality comes with eating here," Amjad said. "It is a small space that is contusive to getting to know people. There is also an incredible amount of multiculturalism. This place encourages dialogue. People here are eager to stories, experiences, and ideas, and come here to enjoy a community atmosphere."

If any Arab students feel homesick, they should come to Petra to find friends, Amjad said.

UA student Raina Johnson has been employed at the caf? for more than a year and said Petra is the best job she has ever had.

"I like to come to work," Johnson said. "Actually, I don't know what I'd do if I didn't work here. This place is like a home. It even looks like a kitchen, and you see us do everything. It is a passive, gentle atmosphere. You can even come here by yourself and feel okay eating alone."

Arsaga's is a local coffee shop. It is located in the public library andWashington regional Medical Center, and on Gregg Street, Crossover Road, and the Law Library on the UA campus.

UA sophomore Shannon Raley has worked at Arsaga's since she was 15 and has also worked at Petra Caf? for about three months. Both places are really friendly and many college students go to both locations, Raley said.

"Everyone is really nice and it is a good place to make friends," Raley said. "At Arsaga's, a lot of baristas will talk to you about stuff that's going on around town. At Petra and Arsaga's, we all act like a big family. We have regular customers at both places."

Local restaurants put more time and thought into their ingredients, Raley said. Petra buys its ingredients from the farmer's market, and Arsaga's roasts its own coffee and gets pastries from local businesses.

Spending money at a locally owned business allows that money to stay in the community 20 percent longer than if spent at a corporate place, Raley said. "Plus, everyone at local businesses are really committed to the product and the customers. Locally owned places are really important to the community because the people here are really committed to making the community better," she said.

The Bike City Recyclery is located on the bike trail right off Center Street, and is open from noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Josh Thompson, Andrea McCann, Jeff Newman, and Nick Cerra started Bike City in April 2007. It functions as a bike shop, an info-shop and bike showroom.

"We began this project to promote bicycles as a simple, ecological solution to part of the transportation problem," Newman said. "Riding a bike doesn't pollute, is quiet, helps keep you healthy, and is fun. When you bike, parking is never a problem. For short urban trips, biking is as fast or faster than driving."

The recyclery rehabilitates older bikes that aren't currently being ridden, which uses an existing resource, Newman said. Bike City then offers the donated recycled bikes for sale or in exchange for volunteer time. It will also offer free basic maintenance courses beginning Sept. 5 for those who would like to learn how to keep their own bikes rolling.

Bike City is "an info-shop and community meeting space designed as a self-education center for those dedicated to the difficult but necessary task of true sustainability; which is giving more to the land base than we take and giving more to our human and non-human neighbors," Newman said.

Bike City is working with the UA Transit and Parking Department to create a free bike program for students called Razorbikes. The recylery is also dedicated to help lessen unnecessary waste.

"We also offer Fayetteville a glimpse at a future that doesn't rely on current habits of consumption and production. We are urging people to think critically and creatively about what counts as trash," Newman said. "Bike City runs a Free Store where used things can be reused at no cost to the inventive person. We do this because we understand the nature of embedded energy-that is, all of the energy used from point of production to point of consumption."

Stacey Wieties opened Dark Star Visuals Boutique, located on Block Street right off the square, during Autumn Fest 1991. Wieties used to make jewelry and couldn't find any beads around town, so she wouldget them at Grateful Dead concerts, she said. She thought it would be a good idea to create a store that sold all the things that could be found by vendors at the Grateful Dead shows.

Wietes began her business in a 12 by 15 foot room and, five renovations later, it is now in a building that is 1,800 square feet. Wieties gets her beads from traveling vendors and goes to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show every February.

"This country is becoming so homogenized now," Wieties said. "Local businesses can't compete with the prices. It is not possible for a family to exist on a small business anymore. [At DSV] you can find unique things that you can't find anywhere in the country. People come here to stand out as unique themselves. In the bead room, you can make whatever you like at affordable prices."

Pam Pemberton owns a small florist shop, Flora, on Block Street that opened in November 2004. She owned a clothing store in Fayetteville until 1997, before going to the woods to grow flowers. She was trained in a big florist shop in Dallas afterwards and came back to Fayetteville because she "knew Fayetteville needed a great florist."

Because she was a cut-flower buyer in Dallas, she knows florists worldwide and gets her flowers from places like Ecuador, Holland, South Africa, California, and Fayetteville's own farmer's market. She buys as much locally as she can and is very interested in organic floristry.

"I would like to support small local businesses because it helps everyone in our town," Pemberton said. "Flora is a little shop with heart. The flowers that are available here are totally different than those available at other stores. Even if someone comes in here with $5, they walk out with something beautiful. People that appreciate beautiful things should have them whether they have money or not."

Randy Thomas has worked at Sound Warehouse on Block Street since 2004 and enjoys

"the feeling of working with the roots community." Sound Warehouse has been here for 25 years and is definitely part of the community, he said.

The store is "one of very few remaining places in Fayetteville that has that community feel," Thomas said. "It is very important to keep Fayetteville diverse, and locally owned businesses rely on the community."

Hugo's is a restaurant that has been located underground on Block Street since 1977. Chad Hammontree has worked there for more than three years. "There is more personality in an independent restaurant," he said. "There are good people and a lot more creativity here than somewhere corporate. These restaurants are a kind of dying breed. There is a lot of history here, great atmosphere, award-winning burgers and just a good place to be."

Cheap Thrills is a vintage clothing and costume shop on East Street owned by Harriet Wells, who opened the store in May 1992. She buys most clothes from the public, and goes to estate sales to get close-out items from boutiques. The shop is the place to get "high-end clothing for cheaper prices, and students love the costumes and vintage clothes," Wells said.

Local businesses "make the town more interesting," Wells said.

Other small business around town include sushi restaurant Rice Village located on Dickson Street; Taste of Thai which is right next to Petra; Dickson Street Bookstore with an impressive collection of used and out-of-print books; Nightbird Books with new books on the corner of Sixth Street and College; and the Fez, a hookah lounge right off of the square.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.