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Welcome the farmers

River Market’s big outside draw is now open.


Baubles, not broccoli
  • Baubles, not broccoli

So, you say, you can’t distinguish between cucumbers and zucchini, and you wouldn’t know a head of baby bok choy if it bit you on the elbow, and therefore you have no use for the Farmer’s Market.

Fine, more parking for the rest of us, but you’re missing out on the best opportunity for pre-10 a.m. Saturday shopping in the city. (That’s not a draw for me personally, but for you weirdos who get up early even when your boss doesn’t say you have to, I can see how it might be.)

The market officially opened for the year on Tuesday, April 25, but by last Saturday the River Market pavilions were already crowded with vendors — probably more than half of which were peddling merchandise of the inedible variety. There was even a guy pretending to be the Tin Woodsman, and another pretending to be an animatronic wax sculpture of Michael Jackson. Food, shopping and mimes. Excellent.

But back to the stuff.

What we’ve pictured here: First, a pendant from jeweler Scott Isslieb, who works with sterling silver and a variety of colored stones. Prices for items I asked about started at around $30, and the pendants like the one pictured here are in the $80-$100 range.

And then there are the whimsical creations of Jerry and Tina Hamilton, who make bracelets, rings and pendants out of, among other materials, antique typewriter keys. The pendants and rings are made from single keys (individual letters, plus “shift” and other command keys, some of them in German) that start at $15, and bracelets that start at $55. Most of the bracelets are random keys, but a few spell out words (“Razorbacks,” for instance) or have themes, like all fractions keys or all dollar amounts. They’re the perfect gift for the quirky word nerd in your life. Ahem.

If jewelry’s not your thing, no worries. Saturday’s choices also included scented soy candles, hand-sewn girls’ sleeveless dresses, stained-glass art, scarves and handbags, wooden baskets and Adirondack chairs.

And if none of that floats your boat, splurge on strawberry shortcake from Hardin’s River Mercantile. This is the real thing: Arkie berries, served either with pieces of angel food cake ($3.50) or yogurt and granola ($4.50), my personal choice. It’s big enough — and healthy enough, especially compared with a slice of pizza or a mayo-slathered sub — to qualify as lunch on its own. And no, it’s not exactly shopping fodder, but it is really damn good.

Also this week:

• The Junior League of Little Rock’s annual Bargain Barn sale is 7 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 29, at the State Fairgrounds’ Hall of Industry. If you’ve never been before, this is like a garage sale on steroids. Last year’s haul included everything from couches to toilets. Admission is $3, or you can pay $10 and attend the preview party from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday.

• After five years behind the cash register, Design Center owner Laine Rosen is ready to move on, and she’s put the 35-year-old Heights store up for sale — along with a selection of merchandise she’s marked half off. When I stopped by last week the sale table included felted handbags, scarves, glassware and some stationery, but Rosen said she’ll add more things as people buy what’s already on the table. So it’s worth a regular check-on.

• Speaking of checking on things, I put a call in last week to the main office of Parisian, the department store planned for the under-construction Pleasant Ridge Towne Center on Highway 10. At this point they’re still on for an October opening. At which time I’ll be in the market for a part-time job to cover the gas for all the extra trips I’ll be making out that direction.

Fries with that?



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