A short drive from Fayetteville, Arkansas sits the charming, little town of Prairie Grove. Twice a year, the population there swells from its usual 3400 to more than triple its size. People come from all around, and all for a little dog.
Ok, maybe not really. But there is a dog in this story, and people do travel from faraway lands to see her, but we’ll come back to that in a minute.
This bi-annual event, known as Junk Ranch, is the largest indoor/outdoor vintage, antique, handmade, repurposed, and boutique show in Northwest Arkansas! It draws tens of thousands of scavengers and fixer-uppers to Prairie Grove.
During these two weekends, shoppers often stroll Buchanan – the quintessential “Main Street” of Prairie Grove – and wander through the 13 different shops residing there. It is here we find our guest of honor: Summit Hill Cottage Shoppe.
When Stars + Styles Aligned
Summit Hill Cottage Shoppe is the whimsical dream-come-true of Susie Lentz. In years gone by, Susie lived in Santa Monica, California, right around the corner from the original shabby chic boutique, Rachel Ashwell. The unique styles left an impression on her that she couldn’t shake.
Later in life, Susie fell in love a second time. Her son, a student at Villanova, had uncovered a gem he knew would set Susie’s heart twinkling. On her next visit to Pennsylvania, Susie was introduced to the original Anthropologie in Wayne, Pennsylvania (before it became the mass chain of stores it is today).
At the time, Anthropologie was a single warehouse that only sold goods and furniture. “But oh my gosh, I’ve never seen anything like it,” recalls Suzy, with the same dreamy excitement in her voice she surely must have felt then.
After this encounter, one thing became clear: Susie vowed that someday she would open a shop that fused together the two styles she loved most.
MEET THE DREAM
Cue: Summit Hill Cottage Shoppe, where shabby chic meets Anthro’s eclectic-yet-homey aura to create a whimsical + fun shopping experience.
Housed in a historic 1913 building, the boutique indeed resembles a fairytale cottage. When you first enter, you’re greeted by a moss-covered bicycle, hoisted high toward the ceiling. Its rider, a friendly stuffed owl, holds a sign inviting guests to “Enjoy the ride!”
This entrance alone reflects Susie’s personality and philosophy to a T. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously here," Susie laughs. "Someone asked me the other day what I do for fun, and I couldn't think of a good answer because to me, work is fun! I'm doing what I want and I love it!”
The shop’s ceiling retains some of its original pressed tin, and the interior is adorned with charming, farmhouse-style decor. “You’ll find primarily vintage stuff and antiques, with a few new goods sprinkled in the mix. And of course, we have a lot of repurposed furniture. I love to bring a piece back to life with a little paint and some TLC,” says Susie.
In addition to her own refurbished creations, Summit Hill Cottage Shoppe hosts about ten other vendors on any given day. Though all bring their own niche style, Suzy has carefully curated her vendor selections to pair well with her shop’s whimsical personality.
A Shabby Chic Celeb
While vendors come and go, there is one constant shop presence many guests count on seeing: a certain small, white pup named Sugar Daisy. (I promised there’d be a dog, didn’t I?)
Susie says Daisy turned up on the side of a country lane one day. Naturally, she couldn’t not take in the friendly little thing. Sugar Daisy quickly became Susie’s fur-child and as it turned out, a perfect addition to the shop atmosphere.
Exactly what kind of dog is Daisy? “Are you ready for this?” grins Susie. “She’s a short-legged, shabby chic shop dog!” And a bit of a local celebrity from the sound of it.
Every Labor Day weekend, Susie and her canine companion settle on a curb to watch the town’s annual parade. As kids pass by on their floats, they always wave and cheer extra loud when they spot Daisy.
“Even people from out of town are always asking to see her,” Susie laughs. And Daisy doesn’t shy away from the attention, oh no. She’s quite keen on it, actually. Her favorite trick is to roll over on people’s feet, trapping innocent bystanders into giving her a well-deserved belly rub.
Daisy’s even got her own lapel pins for sale at Summit Hill Cottage Shoppe, for dog-lovers and Daisy-fanatics who can’t get enough. Like all good celebrities, this pupper gives back to her community: the profits from the pins actually go to the local Friends of Prairie Grove, no-kill animal shelter.
(Ruff! Tear! Ruff!)
It Takes a Village...
In the six years since her store has opened, Susie credits her success to the tremendous support of her family and friends, but particularly her pals down the street at Mel’s Diner. Not only does the family-owned, 50’s-style diner, serve up a mean (read: top 5) hamburger, they spend a lot of time serving their own community. They regularly partner up with Summit Hill Cottage for fundraisers, like their annual “Shop with a Cop” chili event to raise money for the local police department.
Mel’s Diner inspires Susie, but it is their friendship she treasures most. She tears up as she talks about the couple who owns the diner and their children, all of whom have become like a second family to Susie and support her in her business and throughout her life.
It just goes to show, it takes a village to build a cottage. And Towny friends, YOU are part of that village! We’ve made it easy: hop on Towny because, like Suzy's story, local truly is up to us! Don't miss the impact you can make!