Unique, Useful And Beautiful

Unique, Useful And Beautiful

Boutique Show brings friends and fun together


Two things become readily apparent about K.C. Pummill. The founder of the Northwest Arkansas Boutique Show has an easy, infectious laugh and a huge heart. The biggest reason she’s having the 14th annual event Nov. 20-21 is that she knows the small businessmen and women who will sell their work at it needed a venue.

friends and fun together
K.C. Pummill (top left) leads the team that puts together the Northwest Arkansas Boutique Show, including Vanessa Miller, Paula Wetzel and (bottom row from left) Melanie Reeh, Tiffany Haas, Julie Smith, Cathleen Hood and Kathy Wetsell.
(Courtesy Photo)

“Their spring and summer incomes had been decimated,” she says of the makers of candles and clothing, handmade jewelry and holiday ornaments curtailed by covid-19 concerns. “That made us work really hard to make it happen. It’s 150-160 small businesses that are banking on this as one of their biggest sources of revenue for the year. And so many people are hurting right now.”

The Boutique Show was founded more for fun than anything else. Pummill, a Fayetteville native who had just moved back to town from Dallas, had created a line of clothing, and many of her friends were creating artwork that just didn’t fit the mold of the War Eagle Fair. She pitched the event to the Junior League as a fundraiser, but there was no room on their calendar. Instead, she and her friends found a small venue and just did it themselves.

And she was hooked. She made the decision to leave behind her own crafting and put that effort into the Boutique Show — and her three kids — instead.

“Where did we get the energy?” she marvels of the first show in 2006. Little did she know, she says, how much energy would be required this year, in the time of covid-19.

“We didn’t even know until mid-summer if we’d be able to have the show,” she says, adding that working with the Arkansas Department of Health and the team at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers made her feel like it was possible. She and her co-producers have reduced the number of merchants somewhat, from more than 180 to 150 or so, but that’s just the beginning of the adaptations made for public safety.

“I’m excited about all of them,” K.C. Pummill says of this year’s vendors at the NWA Boutique Show. “We have a wide range of merchants featuring gifts, home decor, clothing, holiday decor, children’s items, gourmet food, jewelry… Something for just about everyone. I literally take care of my entire Christmas shopping list in one day.”
(Courtesy Photo)

“The biggest thing is this will be the first time we’ve ever done timed ticketing,” Pummill says. “Normally, everyone just floods in all at once, and there’s no way for us to know when we’ll get 1,000 people at the door or when we’ll get 20. So this year, they can pick their segment, like 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 1 to 3 p.m. or 3 to 5 p.m., so you can enter during that time. Of course, you can stay as long as you want to.”

Having made a reservation, shoppers can also pay the entry fee online and either print their ticket or bring a QR code on their phone for admission. That keeps money — and potential germs — from changing hands at the door.

There will also be “lovely lavender scented hand sanitizer,” created by vendor Simplicity Lavender, for use at the door, and masks will be required while inside the Hammons Center. Pummill isn’t kidding about the masks; she has designated one of her team as the “mask police” to encourage proper wearing over nose and mouth. Merchants will sanitize high-touch items between transactions, too, and will also wear masks.

About 85% of the vendors at the Northwest Arkansas Boutique Show are from Arkansas, according to its founder, K.C. Pummill. The remaining merchants are from California, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. “We’ve added the out-of-state merchants to round out our gift shopping mix with something not already covered by one of Arkansas boutiques,” she says.
(Courtesy Photo)

The goal of the event is the same one Pummill has had since the beginning — bringing unique products together under one roof. She says her favorites are “consumables” — “a really wonderful smelling candle that fills the house through the holiday season, toffee for my in-laws for Christmas, a special ornament for my tree or a special soap that smells great” — but she also enjoys watching shoppers leave with their arms full of unique pillows or rugs or clothing that they can’t find just anywhere else.

“Another thing I love is seeing all the women seeing each other,” she says. “All across the room, you can hear, ‘Oh my! I haven’t seen you for a couple of years! How are you?’ All the vendors know each other and know the shoppers. It really is like a big family.”

What will be missing this year is the hugs — and Pummill is saddened by that part.

“But we’ve all gotten good at air hugs now,” she says. “And next year, for the 15th anniversary, there will be a lot of hugging going on!”


NWA Boutique Show

WHEN — 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 20 & 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 21

WHERE — John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers

COST — $5-$10

INFO — www.nwaboutiqueshow.com

FYI — A list of merchants is available on the website for those who do not wish to shop in person.

“I love how the NWA Boutique Show kicks off the holiday season and puts everyone in such a happy mood,” says Kathy Wetsell, one of the event team.
(Courtesy Photo)

“We built this show essentially during a recession to help small business owners stay afloat when many couldn’t afford to have brick and mortars (physical stores),” Pummill says. “For many merchants, this is still their main source of revenue for the year.”
(Courtesy Photo)

“We work really hard to cultivate a collection of incredible, quality merchants that bring unique items to Northwest Arkansas,” K.C. Pummill says. “There’s a fun vibe, lots of energy, and it’s a great kick off to the holiday season.”
(Courtesy Photo)

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