Murfreesboro native Anita Davis has a bachelor of science degree and varied business life experience that began in the 1980’s with her mail-order catalog called “Pure and Simple.”
In the early turn of the 21st century, Davis became an accidental real estate developer. In 2004, Davis bought the Bernice Building at 1417 S. Main. In 2005, she purchased the empty lot at 1401 S. Main. It was in 2005 that Davis, at a meeting of the National Main Street group in Seattle, learned about "placemaking," the design of public spaces that reflects the character and assets of a community.
In 2006, Davis bought the 100 year old Lincoln Building at the corner of 15th and Main, where StudioMain, the Green Corner Store and the soda fountain that has helped make Loblolly Creamery’s products well known across Arkansas are all located. In 2007 on the other side of Main Street, she bought the Bernice Building which now houses the downtown location of Boulevard Bread Co. Also in 2007, she bought the Sweden Creme property where The Root Cafe now thrives. In 2011, she bought a building next door to the Root for her purse museum. With a 3,000+ collection of women’s purses, Davis decided to create the Esse Purse Museum at 1510 South Main St. The museum opened in June 2013.
In 2014, The Huffington Post included Esse on its list of the “World’s Hottest Museums.”
The Bernice Garden, established in 2011, is now a place that is home to everything from Mardi Gras celebrations to beard-growing contests to farmers’ markets to the annual Arkansas Cornbread Festival each fall.
Mayor Mark Stodola, a former downtown resident and president of the Quapaw Quarter Association, called Davis "a godsend to South Main."
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