Having been born and raised in Jessieville just north of Hot Springs, the daughter of an entrepreneur who taught me to believe in myself and to believe in our hometown, the words resonated. I remembered visiting the artist Benini in the 1980s. He, too, had wanted to revitalize downtown Hot Springs. He and his wife Lorraine envisioned an arts community in the midst of the thermal water. They dreamed of a community that would thrive and flourish, even as they added a home to the second floor along Central Avenue. Benini said of the property, “It’s need-deep in pigeon shit,” but he could see the beauty below … even when others could not.
He introduced me to the beauty.
And when Nelson wrote that article last year, I recalled the beauty amidst the pigeon droppings. I wanted the vision to return and to be a part of it. Within weeks, I had begun the process of leaving a 13+-year career with a nice paycheck and great benefits. I had secured a location downtown (610-C Central, if you’d like to visit) and begun creating a business plan highlighting All Things Arkansas. If it was from, made in, or related to the state, there was a good chance it would be at this new store in downtown Hot Springs.
Benini’s dream and Nelson’s dream had become my dream.
We opened our doors six months ago and I have been honored to meet people around the world. It’s true, though: They want more. They want the dream, and it’s time we do whatever it takes to make our Hot Springs the Hot Springs we know it can be.
Rex Nelson is still talking downtown Hot Springs. He wrote this blog less than a week ago: http://www.rexnelsonsouthernfried.com/?p=560. Comments on how to move the downtown FORWARD are rampant on Facebook.
It may seem to be a small thing, but the City of Hot Springs is in the process of removing most parking meters in the downtown area. For people who live in and around Hot Springs, that means you can pop in and out of these privately owned businesses -- many of which have unique items not found elsewhere -- without the hassle of scrounging up whatever change you can find just so you can shop downtown.
Come on down and visit us. Each of us. See for yourselves what the strengths of Hot Springs are. See for yourselves what the weaknesses are. Let us know what your vision is; let us know how we can make Hot Springs the place of our dreams. Let us know. We are listening, and we are positioning ourselves to act.