True Treasures may be off the beaten path, but it has stood tall for nearly two decades
BENTONVILLE, ARK. – Rick and Debbie True opened their flea market store, True Treasures, on Sept. 15, 2004, in a two-story house on Highway 72 West in Bentonville, Ark.
Initially, not everyone was supportive.
“People said, ‘Oh, you’ll never make it all the way out there,” Debbie recalled. After 17 years, True Treasures has become a fixture in the community. Before opening True Treasures, Rick and Debbie had a shop on South Main Street in Bentonville for three years.
True Treasures has a driveway that circles a tree, and displayed nearby is Rick’s red tractor. At the entrance lies early 1900s farming equipment, vintage furniture and collected treasures from years ago. Inside True Treasures, down the hallway and past the living rooms, there is a large open room with small islands of 1950s furniture, jewelry and other collectibles, forming a maze of antiques. To the right, steps lead up to the second-story level of the flea market, where artists repurpose old materials and make something new out of something old.
Rick and Debbie’s circumstances have allowed them to pursue their passions. Rick raises beef cattle while Debbie runs True Treasures. But their success came from the support they gave each other.
“We work a lot together,” said Debbie. “He hauls me all over the country… And if he’s out, running around and sees something he thinks I might like, he’d buy it.”
Rick’s ability to fix things has helped support the shop, and has given them opportunities to buy and restore antiques.
“He (Rick) repairs everything,” Debbie said. “Ya know, I try to run things by him and ask if this ‘is this fixable or is this junk.’ He’s pretty much a Jack-of-all-trades. He’s our go-to man.”
While Rick uses his hands to repair their antiques, it’s Debbie’s eyes and persistence that help her find collectible items for the shop. “I love to hunt for it. I love to shop and find stuff that I think other people will like,” said Debbie.
Debbie has support from her close friend of 18 years, Lyn Manley. Their love for antiquing initially brought them together. Lyn had a booth at Debbie’s old shop. Lyn had success selling her collection of antiques, and soon, Debbie and Lyn had developed a close friendship. Now, they work together at True Treasures.
While Debbie runs the business, Lyn stages, organizes and decorates the shop. This allows her to express her artistic side.
“My favorite thing is just kind of doing the little vignettes and staging,” said Lyn. “Even though it’s exhausting.”
Debbie enjoys Lyn’s artistic touch in the store. “She helps me a lot. She prods me along. She’s an artist, she’s our inside artist.”
It’s the relationship with people that’s the life and blood of True Treasures. It has kept them going, even when things weren’t easy. The year 2020 was especially difficult because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless, True Treasures had to adapt.
In 2020, Debbie worked through most of the months using Instagram and Facebook. Together with Lyn, they would stage, take pictures and sometimes sell it over the phone. They would put it on the porch and let their customers pick it up.
“She (Lyn) was my only helper during 2020 pretty much. Now, the other girls would come in at night and bring stuff, you know, when we were closed,” Debbie said.
Even then, they had to be innovative. True Treasures provided supplies for do-it-yourself projects for their customers, knowing they’d most likely be at home.
“We carried two lines of paint,” said Debbie. “People, during the pandemic, were redoing their furniture. You know, they’re at home doing projects.”
“They want it to be more homey because they’re home so much,” Lyn added. “And they’re having dinner together as a family.”
Despite adapting to these circumstances and the changing market, Rick and Debbie have enjoyed running True Treasures.
“The best thing has been the people I have met along the way,” Debbie said. “The people part of the business is the best part to me.”
True Treasures isn’t just a business. It’s a part of the community; It’s a gem in a network of flea market businesses that support each other. In Benton County alone, True Treasures is one of 15 flea market businesses that support each other. If one flea market doesn’t have something a customer needs, they’ll refer that customer to another flea market in their area. To Debbie, a flea market isn’t just a business; it’s an opportunity to become part of a family.
“I married Rick and he lived here. I didn’t know a lot of people except his family,” Debbie said. “I made my own family here. That definitely is the best part, the people.”