I created this site as a way to talk about people and places we see as we travel around the U.S. However, I knew that at some point, there would be a time to brag on my own town, Searcy, Arkansas. When you think of Searcy, it’s likely you won’t think of it as a tourist’s hot spot, and unless you’re from Arkansas or have a tie to Harding University, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of this small town that rests where the Arkansas River Valley, Plateau, and Delta meet. We’re a community with about 25,000 people. We have amazing public and private schools. We are the home of Trout Magnet, Yarnell’s Ice Cream, and Harding University. We are a town with churches within eyesight of most street corners, and we are surrounded by a lot of friendly people who have chosen Searcy to call home. In some ways, it feels that this little city is one of Arkansas’ best kept secrets.
The secret is starting to get out. Someone in the last year thought it would be a good idea to submit Searcy into the Small Business Revolution – Main Street Project television competition, and one way or another, this gem of a small town has been chosen in the top 6 cities to be featured in Season 4. At every stage of the competition, our community has rallied together to help us win. #MySearcy has entered into the mainstream of our consciousnesses. Now that the voting is nationwide, we continue to see friends of Searcy across the state, country, and even around the world cast their vote for us. We are proud of how far we’ve come, and we hope we get to be on Season 4, but after all the votes have been counted, whether we win or not, this town has demonstrated greatness that would rival any hometown in America.
(If you’d like to vote for Searcy or vote again for Searcy, go to www.gosearcy.com.)
So, I’d like to share this post as my way to tip my hat to Searcy, Arkansas, “The City where thousands live as millions wish they could!” (www.cityofsearcy.org).
In the spirit of making the top 6 of Small Business Revolution, I would like to focus on my favorite 5 small businesses. These are places my family and I frequent, and the small business owners are making a big difference for Searcy. Of course there are many more that could be named, and I encourage you to name your favorites in the comments below. Here are my five in no particular order:
Corner Florist and Gifts (2703 E Moore Ave.)
I started coming to Corner Florist because I heard that every Friday they sell discounted flowers. Since my wife likes getting flowers and I like to save money, I decided I’d check them out. What I found was a store of friendly faces (like Debbie, Sabrina, and Ashley) and an excellent product. I have been buying flowers most Fridays now for over a year, and yes, my wife knows they are discounted. The price is half, but the quality is full.
Corner Florists and Gifts has been owned by Debbie and Grayling Wheeler since 1999. They specialize in floral arrangements, and they provide many with beautiful flowers for special occasions such as weddings, funerals, holidays, proms, and homecoming festivities. You can find Corner Florist and Gifts on Facebook.
Savor + Sip (110 N. Spring St.)
Savor + Sip arrived to Searcy in February of 2018 and has taken the eatery scene by storm. They have the distinction of being the only creperie in town. Owned by Amelia and Mark Brackett, a daughter-father duo, this establishment has an all-are-welcome vibe, sits in the heart of downtown, and offers flavor filled sweet and savory delicacies. I’ve personally enjoyed the crepe with bacon and eggs as well as the ham and cheese selection. One of the most popular crepes is their Chocolate Monkey, which has bananas, Nutella, and a caramel sauce. Yum! They even have a Poppy Seed Chicken crepe.
Although crepes are their jam, they also have excellent brewed coffee and specialty coffees. I’m a fan of any place that serves a good Flat White. Their most popular lattes are their Lavender Honey and Brown Sugar Cinnamon. In addition, they make their own cheese cakes. Why would you not want to come and savor this sip?
Quattlebaum Music (101 W. Arch Ave.)
Quattlebaum Music embodies the essence of small town business. Currently owned by Greg and Vani Geroy, this store has been in Searcy and in the same family since 1961. My first trip to Quattlebaum was as a student in the 1990s while attending Harding University. It’s one of those establishments that feels as if it has always been there, and we expect it to continue for a long time.
Quattlebaum specializes in musical stringed instruments, but they also sell drums and pianos. You can buy instruments, strings, parts, and an assortment of lesson books (but no poppy seed chicken). Although these products may be readily available online at other stores, by shopping from Quattlebaum, you get to check out your merchandise yourself from the knowledgeable and hospitable musicians who work in the store. In addition to the products, Quattlebaum offers lessons for violin, guitar, piano, and more. I suppose my favorite thing to do at Quattlebaum is to browse a little and pretend to be cool like the people who work there.
The Cookie Basket (106 E. Market Ave.)
We are regulars at the The Cookie Basket. Located just off the center square, The Cookie Basket has been serving home-style meals and Iced Lemon Cookies for 30 years. This is one of those local favorites where any day of the work week you’ve got to come early to find a seat and to order the lunch special while supplies lasts. It’s also one of those places where you see the same friends, likely in the same seats, and Dock knows your order before you tell him.
The Cookie Basket has had a recent makeover and merger with Frozen Delight, or Frozen D’s as we locals call it. Jessie and Brent Hohenstein bought Frozen D’s about 4 years ago, and this past year they acquired The Cookie Basket, bringing both menus under one roof. Frozen D’s, by the way, has been mixing shakes for Searcians since the 1930s! So, in addition to the favorite Poppy Seed Chicken Special, fresh salads, sandwiches, and large cookies (of course), you can also now order shakes with smooth ice cream filled and blended with your choice of toppings. Our go-to shake is the delicious hot-fudge-peanut butter-butterfinger.
You can find The Cookie Basket on Facebook.
The Mixing Bowl (1229 W Beebe Capps Expy.)
The Mixing Bowl is a life saver for those in a pinch who want the taste of a home-cooked meal. Owned by Cindy Vaughn, The Mixing Bowl has been in Searcy since 2009. I must admit that I personally wasn’t sold on this concept when I first heard about it, but I’m also not the one in our household who plans the meals. I’ve seen over the years how many people have appreciated the convenience of what The Mixing Bowl offers. It’s sort of like a Blue Apron, except you pick it up yourself and you don’t have to cook anything.
When we visited The Mixing Bowl last, we asked Aimee Wells (pictured above) how she would describe their product. Without hesitation she recited the company’s motto: “Homemade meals from our kitchen to your table.” Now, that’s good, small town, Southern hospitality! Speaking of Southern, their most popular dish is Poppy Seed Chicken. Of course!
This is Searcy. A community of hard working people who care for their town and the people in it. These small businesses are just five of my favorites. The list could be longer. Who knows, maybe I’ll write another post about Searcy later. In the meantime, if you know Searcy and would like to add your favorites to my list, go ahead and add them as a comment below.
(Photos by Anna Westbrook)