What is the Unexpected?
The Unexpected is an art project curated by JustKids, brought to the area by 64/6 Downtown which is a nonprofit organization that is revitalizing downtown, Fort Smith. The Unexpected has brought the well-established artists from all around the world; D*Face, Maser, Alexis Diaz, and others to showcase their artistic abilities secretly through the streets of Garrison Avenue from September 2 to 11. This is the Unexpected Projects second year in Fort Smith sparking the locals inner Mona Lisa’s.
Impact on Downtown Businesses?
The Unexpected has come and uplifted Downtown Fort Smith’s businesses sales by an average of 50 percent. The art project has shone a light on downtown Fort Smith’s businesses for a week as the locals go on a hunt to catch the artists live in action.
Sacred Grounds alone experienced the best week yet, recently under new ownership. With the coffee, tea, and finger food loving Unexpected sightseers brought to Garrison Avenue, the baristas were quick on their feet with their week’s sales skyrocketing by 80 to 90 percent. Extremely impressive for the new owners Sarah and Brady who took over last spring.
Right next door to Sacred Grounds Coffee House, the clothing boutique Indie also caught the eyes of the downtown wanders. The boutique owners, Constance and sister Naomi Lee, had a positive week with increased sales of 30 percent during the Unexpected visit and was able to meet the director of the Unexpected who stepped inside their shop.
Creative Kitchen also had the opportunity to capitalize on the exciting week. The art-crazed foot traffic walking the downtown streets resulted in the sales increasing by a whopping 33 percent. The owner, Jamie Coleman explained how she loves busy days and an increase in the double digits is a great day.
Belle Starr Antique Mall has been of off Garrison Avenue for 6 years now and got an opportunity to impress the Fort Smith natives who hadn’t known of their existence, who originally came to see the Unexpected art on the side of their building. Beth Templeton, the owner of Belle Starr Antique Shop, was infatuated with the positive energy, extra foot traffic who showed interest in her shop, and the healthy sale week the art influenced.
New downtown businesses like The Valley being open for only 3 months took advantage of the Unexpected week to get the word out about their current location, well-coming the comers and goers.
True Grit enjoyed the extra foot traffic as well getting the word out to Fort Smith about their locations since only have been opened on Garrison Avenue for 6 weeks. True Grit’s vendors with knowledge of the area, commented on the artwork noticing that it has made the downtown area more alive.
Magnolia had a pretty average week but its older customers admitted on how the excitement reminded them of the golden days when downtown Fort Smith was the place to be.
Downtown Fort Smith is no longer the recent ghost town, it’s slowly resurrecting its once known and highly anticipated greatness. The local businesses are thriving from its growth as well.
2016 Downtown Fort Smith Locations
Okuda San Miguel – Rogers & Garrison Avenue
Cyrcle – 1100 Garrison Avenue
Jaz/Paste – Goins Warehouse Alley
Bordalo II – 708 Garrison Avenue
Faith 47 – 505 Rogers Avenue
NHS/SHS Students – 4th Street & A Street
UAFS Students – 2nd Street & A Street
Guido Van Helten – Wheeler Avenue & S. C Street
Maser – UAFS Windgate Building