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Mountain Home’s downtown business community just got a little bit bigger as new businesses continue to pop up throughout the thriving small town in preparation for the upcoming tourist season.
The newest member to the city’s downtown district comes in the form of the Rustic River Flea Market, which is located at 511 South Main Street in the Baxter Bulletin’s former location.
“I used to do traveling shows,” said Aleia Dutcher, Rustic River Flea Market owner. “It would have pop-up boutiques and jewelry sales. And I made a lot of stuff. That kind of is where I started. The shows led into wanting an actual storefront and I walked by this place and saw the ‘for rent’ sign and called it on a whim, and it was available.”
A Mountain Home native and mother of three, Dutcher started making jewelry as a hobby while living in Colorado. As her passion for her hobby grew, she began selling her goods on Etsy before attending her first show in 2010.
Her jewelry resonated with young brides, gaining her attention from her local newspaper at the time.
“A lady contacted me from a local newspaper there and I made wedding jewelry, and that kind of gave me the confidence to branch out and look for festivals,” Dutcher said. “It went really well.”
Her artwork would take her to festivals all over the state of Colorado before she moved back to Mountain Home.
Dutcher said her love of making jewelry and art began after taking her first beading class as a child.
“My very first beading class was when I was nine,” Dutcher said. “I learned how to make beaded teapots with my mom and grandmother. That got me kind of started. And then I just started collecting beads and then stopped for a while and I was like, I really enjoyed doing that. I should start again.”
After Dutcher secured her location for her new store, she went to work and began preparing for her official open on Black Friday of last year.
“I knew that location would be a good thing here because of the entertainment district,” she said. “I wanted to be near the festivals on Saturdays and when there are festivals, I extend my hours to match the festivals.”
The Rustic River Flea Market features handmade necklaces and earrings from Dutcher and items made by local artists and craftsmen in the Mountain Home area.
The market currently has 15 booths for rent, with seven available booths for artists to move into.
“I’m honestly trying to get more crafters in here, and I’d like to focus on them,” Dutcher said.
Dutcher said the Rustic River would also be hosting weekly art classes from local artists in the area.
Her first class is slated to run on Jan. 21 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will focus on teaching students how to make watercolor paintings. Jerry Preator, a local artist with over 55 years of experience as a watercolorist and 48 years of experience as a teacher, will teach the class.
Entry to the class will run $25 with supplies included.
“He’s so sweet and so good,” said Dutcher about Preator. “I’ve taken his classes before. He used to teach at Hobby Lobby, and now he’s looking for another outlet, so I told him that he could come in and teach classes. I want to try and have one every Saturday morning.”
For more information about the Rustic River Flea Market, please contact (870) 281-8594.