23 Jan At Quitman – The Vintage Rose offers a magical experience
Anne and Eldon Fry opened The Vintage Rose in the late 1990s in a different Quitman location, but when the farmhouse went up for sale, they purchased it for the store’s new location and began rebuilding the house, room by room. When they first opened the new location, they were only able to use three of the farmhouse’s rooms, but since then, all of the rooms have been fully renovated.
Anne was working full-time for Bosch in Heber Springs (until the summer of 2008 when the plant closed) when she first opened the store. She says that working in various positions at Bosch taught her a lot about business.
But it wasn’t her job with Bosch that led her to start her own business. When asked what sparked her desire to open such a store, Anne spoke about how she has “always had a passion [for creating things]” and began sewing as soon as her mother would let her.
While in elementary school, she and her mother began making “designer Barbie doll clothes” together and sold them. Then she started crocheting and selling ponchos when she got a little older. In her early teens, she had a contract with the Arkansas Traveling Theater to make 150 sets of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls.
Anne likes to “rescue vintage finds.” She takes old furniture and other items and renews them. She loves anything that’s old and admits to having “a very hard time throwing anything away.” She explains, “If I can see a purpose for it or there’s a way that we can remake it into something else, we’re going to keep it out of a landfill or a dumpster.”
Two years ago, Anne started what she calls a Garden Party at The Vintage Rose, an annual event held the third week of April. “The whole store is decked out with fresh flowers and garden stuff, lots of old garden pieces, iron, outdoor furniture.”
In the fall, she does a Christmas open house with lots of holiday items. In addition to the store’s regular hours (Fridays and Saturdays) and special events, Anne occasionally books private after-hours shopping for groups.
Because it is open only two days a week and by appointment, Anne is able to change the store some each week. She likes to present customers with a new setting each time they enter. “Every week when we shut the doors on Saturday night, we start the process again because when we open the doors again on Friday of the following week, it’s got to be magical.”
The Vintage Rose has become popular mostly through word-of-mouth and by sight — it sits right on Highway 25 North (also known as Heber Springs Road). Customers come from all over Arkansas and surrounding states.
Anne recently had a call from the Chicago area. The caller said she would be driving through and asked if the store would be open. The out-of-towner explained that she had a customer who told her if she was ever in the Quitman area, she “had to stop in.”
Anne strives to impress shoppers and believes that if someone can walk into the store and be “totally wowed,” that person will tell others and will also keep returning. The experience itself is the best marketing tool.
Eldon and Anne also own Bar F Cattle Company, Inc., an outfit that preconditions cattle. They have one son, Scott, who in December completed his Ph.D. in animal science and nutrition at North Carolina State. He is now living and working in Ohio with his wife, Kayte.
The Vintage Rose invites shoppers in with its huge front porch and intriguing farmhouse setting. It encourages them to stay a while and browse with its classy décor and charming personality. It lures them back with its unique offerings and magical experience.