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logo   Shoppers driving through the renovated Park Hill area in North Little Rock may have noticed furniture sitting on the sidewalk in front of Gallery1. The unique composition of metal and fabric attracts its own brand of customer.

   “Some people are scared to come in because the stuff is so different,” says 28-year-old owner Stephen Garrett of North Little Rock, noting that most customers are “artsy” types.

   Garrett and 27-year-old metal artist Rob Wellborn, of Sheridan, met when Wellborn rode up on a Harley in a grocery store parking lot. Their shared love of motorcycles led to other shared interests. Wellborn has been creating and building custom metal furniture for years, which intrigued Garrett enough to open the store Oct. 1. Since then, business has been picking up.

   “I just love taking raw steel and transforming it to something cool,” Wellborn says on the store’s Website.

table   The store specializes in custom-made metal furniture, including everything from candlesticks to a wet bar. They can also custom-make Christmas gifts and ornaments. While furniture can be purchased off the gallery floor, many customers choose to custom order pieces including sculptures, chaise lounges, ottomans, saddle chairs, wine racks, entertainment centers, desks, bed frames, bars, barstools, and coffee tables and dinner tables, which are also available with inlaid glass. Barstools from the store can be seen at The Living Room coffee shop in Hillcrest.

   “However you want it, we can make it,” Garrett says, noting that they’ll design the piece after talking with the customer, or even make a piece from a customer’s design. The process takes from two to six weeks to finish, depending on the piece. Garrett says the pieces attract attention because they look different, and they’ll also last longer than wood.

   The store also features a consignment art gallery showcasing local artists including Wellborn, Amanda Jones, Ashley Jones, Brandy Robertson and Jennifer Brouillette. The store had its first featured art show in late November, and a Christmas art show is set for this month.

   Garrett says he’s looking to open Gallery1 stores in Little Rock, Conway and Dallas in the future. But for now, you can find it at 3704 John F. Kennedy Blvd., between G and H streets, open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.gallery1metal.com, call (501) 771-1119 or email Gallery1Metal@aol.com.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 1-31, 2003 issue of the Little Rock Free Press.