Drive up to the new location of The Avant Garde’n and prepare to find yourself in 417-land’s version of the Magnolia Market at the Silos. Just like the Waco, Texas, market that’s on any Fixer Upper fan’s bucket list, there’s a giant billboard affixed to the front of The Avant Garde’n letting you know you’ve found your destination, now located just off Highway 65’s Jackson Street exit. It’s every bit as Instagram-
worthy with rustic furniture and plants carefully placed in front of the sign. Joanna and Chip would be proud.
Alas, there’s no TV star at the helm of this upscale retail empire, but owner Marcia Bell has built her own dedicated following who have been shopping at The Avant Garde’n since it originally opened in 2009. In the eight intervening years, there have been many changes, most notably that former co-owner Missy Lipscomb exited the business a few years ago. Still, the furniture and home goods store is thriving. In February, The Avant Garde’n moved into its second location, now with room for more products and a few new services.
The move was necessitated by the estate liquidations Bell and her staff began offering in 2014. The Avant Garde’n had more inventory than it could showcase, so staff started doing in-home sales. Then in 2016, Bell purchased the current location, which is 8,100 square feet and had been used as a church since 2004. In 60 days, a team flipped the space, which included demolishing about 75 percent of the area, adding arches where doors had been, remodeling the bathrooms and painting. “It probably should have been four to five months, but we had a huge team working on it, and they worked nonstop,” Bell says.
Although it took a significant amount of elbow grease to get it retail ready, the location was ideal. “I just loved everything about the building itself, and being right off the highway, we felt like it would give us a new traffic source,” Bell says. Growing the shop’s clientele has been a priority for Bell for the past few years. Since the store opened, its name, which refers to its high-end offerings, has caused some unintended confusion. “A lot of people think it’s a garden store,” Bell says. So in early 2016, she changed the logo and other branding to include furniture items that would emphasize the inventory.