When Evelyn Hills opened in the early sixties, it was the spot to shop in Fayetteville Arkansas, says Steve Clark of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce.
"It was the showcase place," he says. "It was here's what shopping is all about."
Clark says when the Northwest Arkansas Mall was built, people started spending dollars elsewhere.
"That sort of midtown area took a slump," he says. But new small businesses' unique offerings are drawing customers back to the center of town.
"You sort of see a new life breathed into Evelyn Hills, and an old destination becoming new again," Clark says. "Part of what is important is the mixture of business... It's become is a destination spot for families and that's real important to the entire part of that midtown corridor."
Shea Mathis is a Fayetteville native, and says he'll never forget heading to Evelyn Hills to drop some coins at Showbiz Pizza.
"That was the arcade in town that all of us growing up would go to," he says.
Mathis is recreating those glory days, he opened Arkadia Retrocade two months ago, offering customers unlimited play for a flat five dollar fee.
"It's been a blast sharing this project with the community," he says.
He's having success in a space where many businesses failed, and his neighbors at Hawaiian Brian's believe the new set of stores will break the shopping center's curse.
"I like the neighbors, I like the vibe," says owner Shanea Holmbeck. "We have a lot of really cool, funky businesses here now."
Shanea says neighboring shop owners used to take bets on how long new restaurants would last, but now they're pleasantly surprised to see the success of the island inspired food.
"They were like, 'We've never seen this restaurant as busy as it is, ever,'" Holmbeck says. "I think it's totally turning around."
Mim Wynne, the owner of the Handmade Market just down the strip says her new neighbors are helping the center as a whole.
"A shopping center does not look prosperous, and people are much less likely to stop there when there are lots of vacancies and now there's not," she says. "There's been more and more traffic... Despite the horrors of the economy our sales are up."
Mathis is eating up the new found popularity, and he's thrilled it's bringing back Evelyn Hills' prosperity.
"This was the perfect place for us," he says. "It seems like this place is always busy and vibrant."