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Bennett’s turns 140

Camping gear to gas masks for sale.

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The few remaining businesses on Main Street are not old. The old-timers fled downtown or went out of business years ago. With one exception. Bennett's Military Supplies at Third and Main is celebrating its 140th birthday May 7 and 8, which makes it one of the oldest businesses in Arkansas. It's easily the oldest on Main Street, where it's been for the last 60 years. And it's been owned by the same family since the beginning.

Two brothers, Max and Isaac Bennett, founded the store in North Little Rock in 1870. They were not selling army surplus from the Civil War. Bennett's was just a dry goods store then. It was during World War I that the family began taking in military surplus property and reselling it.

Sheree Meyer, the current owner, is the fifth generation of her family at the store. Her son, Adam Davenport, who works there part-time, is the sixth. Adam's Marine Corps uniform works at the store fulltime. It's on one of the mannequins in the window. Another Marine mannequin, bare-armed, is heavily tattooed. Meyer had that done at the tattoo parlor a couple of doors away.

People who've been in Little Rock for awhile will remember Meyer's father, Joseph Kaufman, a familiar face on Main Street. They'll probably remember the suit of armor that stood in the window for years. The suit's inside the store now.

Bags, boots, knives, camping gear, battle dress uniforms (called BDU's), backpacks and camouflage netting are big sellers to hunters and oth-ers. Kids come in on weekends wanting knives and dog tags. No firearms are sold, but pepper spray and stun guns are. Also working gas masks.

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