Crystal Bridges Impacts the Downtown Bentonville Square

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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will be one year old Sunday and its impact stretches throughout Bentonville, especially its downtown square.

"Ever since the museum opened in November of last year, our business has been up about 30%," said Jaime Gardiner, manager of Table Mesa Bistro.

Crystal Bridges attracts an average of 13,000 visitors weekly.

"We've seen people from all over the U.S., which is really exciting -- Boston, Washington, Arizona," Gardiner said. "So it's been neat to see people from all over."

T.H. Benton’s Coffee and Deli has also been impacted by Crystal Bridges.

"I think it brings traffic to Bentonville square more than it did before, so it's pretty cool," Kade Woodell, manager of T.H. Benton’s.

Woodell said he guides tourists when they come into the coffee shop.

"They are either on their way there and asking how to get there or they have just been there, so I get to talk to them about that a lot," Woodell said.

The $800 million museum has transformed many of the businesses including retail stores.

Posh Alley Boutique opened its doors about two weeks ago. Co-owner Lisa Gray said it was a tough move from Rogers, but there was one deciding factor.  

"The impact of Crystal Bridges and the traffic flow through the city and all the great stuff that it's bringing to town," Gray said.

The store brings in painted furniture, decor and locally designed artwork and clothing. Gray said it's a boost in sales for this boutique and other retail stores. 

"We knew the traffic was probably going to be good down here on the square," Gray said. "We just love the old world feel of the square, there isn't anything like it anywhere else."

The art is designed by co-owner Missy Kaza who said customers appreciate her work more because of Crystal Bridges.

"It's kind of fun to see their reaction of asking who does the art and I say 'Me,' they really respond to that," Kaza said.

The museum attracts people from all over the U.S. and the world exposing their product to a bigger audience.

"They see these fabulous work of art and they can kind of come here and get our take what works for us in the art world," Kaza said.

In the hospitality industry, Crystal Bridges attracted the luxury hotel 21-c Museum Hotel. It's located on the northeast corner of the square and expected to open in 2013.

Crystal Bridges expects to have a total of 600,000 visitors by its first-year anniversary.