FORT SMITH (KFSM)—Jami Coleman, the owner of Creative Kitchen, has been running the business since 2006. But something ‘unexpected’ happened in September 2015, which has led to more people walking around downtown.
“This time last year, sales were good, but now they're starting to get great,” she said, “and we love anytime we can go from good to great.”
She said the murals created by international artists have changed the entire mentality of Fort Smith.
“People now have pride in their city,” Coleman said, “and think that's been missing for so long, and I love that it's cultivating that.”
The manager of Savoy Tea also agrees with that sentiment.
“People are interested in downtown Fort Smith now and making things happen here, so that's really exciting,” Shelby Pfeffer said.
It’s not just the locals feeling excited about the changes around town. A couple visiting from Michigan has been to Arkansas before, but this time it was different.
“Actually we came for the historic site there and then found out about the Unexpected murals here in town and thought well we gotta see that,” Barb Taylor said.
After walking around, Barb and her husband Bill said they were impressed.
“It's awesome,” Bill Taylor said.
Some say, even the nightlife has a different vibe.
“I'd say it's more of a diverse crowd now, and it's been a little more busy,” bartender Maile Nuckles said. “People are walking around the streets a lot more, bringing more customers in here to Sake.”
One more international artist is expected to come to town sometime next week. Organizers of the Unexpected Project said that will be announced on social media soon.