Arkansas’ local business scene continues to blossom as new faces move into the state and passions are uncovered. Nestled within the Hillcrest Historic District in Little Rock, the Dandelion Home and Garden store is a new community favorite. Susan Veasey and her partner Rachel Morris moved to Arkansas not really knowing what all would change for them. The two women may not have expected to open a store full of plants, antiques, local art and friendly faces, but that is exactly where they find themselves now.
Veasey and Morris settled into the Little Rock area after living in a few other states. Veasey, a full-time nurse for Baptist Hospital, is always on the go between the COVID-19 unit and joining Morris at their little store in Hillcrest.
“I’m always working, and I love what I do as a nurse, but coming to the store after a day at the hospital is like a chance for me to breathe. I walk in to see the plants and the smiling faces, and it’s just such a difference to what I see at the hospital. Especially these last few weeks,” Veasey says.
Dandelion Home and Garden is overflowing with life and color with Morris’s extensive plant collection of succulents, dragon trees, monsteras and almost anything you would want to take home to your kitchen, office or living space.
“Plants just make me happy,” Morris says with a laugh. “Usually when customers walk in, there are plants covering almost every inch of this room. We’ve started selling air succulents which don’t require any maintenance at all, and they’ve become really popular with our customers.”
A fan of the air herself, Morris is a former pilot, but the long hours on the job and time away from home pushed the plant mom to leave the sky and focus on pursuing a business venture with her partner.
“[Morris] has built a lot of the shelves in this room herself,” Veasey shares. She points out the many shelves lining the walls filled with tiny plants in ornate tiny pots. “And she figured out a way to filter the water for the plants.”
Morris explains how the water had been turning the plants brown in spots, so she set out to fix the problem.
“I made the filtration system to filter out the chemicals in the water, and the plants look so much better. I have the hose hooked up, so I’ll just walk around watering these little guys and then head out to the pergola for the ones outside,” Morris says.
The outdoor pergola holds a host of more plants that need the sunshine Arkansas is so great at providing. The couple are looking forward to a mural that will be painted on to the pergola soon for that extra bit of color the inside of the store has so much of.
Morris’ plants are brought in from Dallas, and she is always ready to help customers find the perfect plant and pot that fits their style. Walking around the store, customers may find that antique vases and china make the perfect home for succulents and cacti.
“I love finding antique items and giving them another purpose and chance,” Veasey shares. She finds the store’s antiques at different flea markets and thrift stores, and she helps the pieces fit right in at the store. “They get another chance at life.”
The artful touches around the store are most likely the work of Veasey. Her grandfather was an artist, and some of his old prints and pieces are on display around the store. Also from her family is the sink where Morris’s water filter is located.
“This sink is from my grandparents’ farm, and it’s 114 years old. The pot rack is also from the farm and is 125 years old. The display table is from my great-grandparent’s store and is 125 years old,” she shares.
Incorporating new and old is a skill the women have become well-versed in and passionate about. Mixed in with the antiques and displayed on her family’s furniture is artwork and pieces from local artists and craftsmen. Towels, wooden planks, pottery, photographs and many more pieces are all sold at Dandelion Home and Garden.
“I think it’s so important to support our local community, and it helps that they’re all so talented,” she says. A few more local vendors are in the works to be sold at the store, and continuing to represent the diverse voices and skills around the state.
“We love being a part of this neighborhood and getting to know the people in our community,” Morris says. Both Veasey and Morris, each born in different states, say that Arkansas is so much more than what outsiders tend to perceive it as. “Arkansas has culture, art and great people that need to be represented and supported,” Morris adds.
Veasey and Morris are excited about the growth the store has experienced in the few months it has been open
“We have plans to expand our store downstairs, and we have a website that’ll be coming out at the beginning of next year. It’s been a lot of work getting our little store up and running, but it has really been a breath of fresh air finally being able to do it,” Veasey says.
Keep up with what the store is doing on their Facebook page, or just go ahead and pop your head in to say hi; Veasey and Morris will be waiting with a smile.
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