Culin-Arts storeowner Valeda Carmichael is a Mississippi native with a long-time passion for food and art.
Twelve years ago in West Point, she decided to turn her dream into a reality and opened Culin-Arts. This past fall, she made the move to Oxford and conveniently located her store off the Square at 404 S. 11th St.
Carmichael believes the shop offers more than your average home goods department store, as she supplies customers with kitchen essentials, handmade pottery, art pieces, jewelry, rugs, outdoor furniture, and tailgating necessities for the Grove.
“There really isn’t a shop like this probably anywhere,” she said. “There are a lot of awesome stores, but I sort of go over the top as far as variety, which separates me from other similar businesses.”
One of the most successful parts of her business is the wedding registry. Carmichael sets up tables for each couple in the store and places everything they select on display. This allows other customers to get an idea about what has and has not been selected.
Carmichael’s specific way of handling the registry allows customers to see the quality of the items they buy. Once an item is out of stock, it goes completely off the table, and no duplicates are made, making many items rare and unique for each couple.
“The bridal registry was a big part of my business there (in West Point), so I’m hoping it is going to be a big success for me here in Oxford as well,” she said. “Aside from the functional and pretty items in the store, I’ve had a lot of families buy paintings, for example, as they are kind of ‘forever gifts,’ which is really cool,” Carmichael said.
Culin-Arts has nine display rooms for customers to walk through, each of which are separately themed. Throughout the store, beautifully painted canvases and knick-knacks are displayed.
“I refer to a lot of items in here as “functional pretties,” as a lot of things aren’t only meant for decoration, but you can actually use them,” Carmichael said. “So in other words, if it looks like a casserole bowl, you can actually bake in it.”
With all of the goods Culin-Arts has to offer, Carmichael believes that most items are reasonably priced. Although she is aware that many stores in Oxford tend be pricier than stores in other areas around Mississippi, the new location has not made her to change her prices.
Ole Miss college student Kara Whetstone explained her excitement about Culin-Arts coming to town. Whetstone loves the home goods and antique stores around Oxford, but hates the high prices she has paid decorating her place.
“There is a lot of stuff in here people my age would like, as well as older adults, and it’s great because even as a college student, I can actually afford it,” she said. “Oxford has some other little stores like this around town, but none that are actually realistically priced, in my opinion. I will definitely be having some fun in Culin-Arts when it comes to buying stuff for my new apartment next fall.”