THE FLEA AND the louse are old. Way older than they let on. Their lines are all still dark—their anatomy still intact, unfaded—but the background’s a little yellowed. What appears to be a light thumbprint smudges the top right corner. It’s a vintage print, no doubt, though its provenance isn’t entirely clear until Dom Smith, who owns Dandy Roll with his wife, Courtney, pipes up from across the store and gives the date.
Lest you think this isn’t an especially impressive feat, allow me to paint a picture for you: There are a lot of prints. Like, a lot. Something to the tune of 10,000-odd pieces arranged into categories such as “Fish” and “Small Maps.” So, that he can correctly state, without much in the way of hesitation, what the date of a randomly pulled flea print is, sight unseen—well, it’s pretty impressive. Especially when he does so again (“Pin fire revolver knife”? 1940) and again (“The Matthews-Northrop Adequate Travel-Map of St. Paul”? 1893). But lest you’re picturing Dom as, say, a curmudgeonly sort bent low over a set of scrolls on the counter, eyes clouded with dust and the fog of age, nearly as old as the prints he’s identifying, just know that image couldn’t be much further from the truth.
When my pen runs dry, he hands me one of the many clipped to the top of his apron, saying, “I have a whole pocket of pens—like sunshine?” He adds a second later: “Little did you know that I was hilarious.”
That exchange? That says everything you need to know about Dom. Young, spritely, excited about maps, hilarious, an improbable host. But of course, it’s an improbable store. After all, this place—“Home. Gifts. Clothes. & TWO CUTE DOGS #TeamDelia #TeamDoby” reads the sandwich board out front—wasn’t originally in the plan. The idea had come when Dom and Courtney were on their honeymoon in Savannah, Georgia, in June 2016, visiting V&J Duncan Antique Maps, a shop for vintage prints. When the owners made an offhand remark about buying the store, the newlyweds got to thinking: Maybe there was something to it. The next month, they went down for a weekend, learned everything they could about prints and preservation, and came back with 300-odd prints.
In those early days, Dom says, “it was a fun daydream to have.” However, as the months and years wore on—as their collection grew, as their e-commerce business picked up, as conversations about a brick-and-mortar storefront solidified into something more concrete—the business started to feel a little more real. When they finally opened their doors in downtown Rogers on Sept. 22, 2017, Dom says, when he left his day job to work there full time, that was when it was real. And now, to see him behind the counter, spouting off the names and dates of a collection that grows by the day, there can be little doubt: This is history in the making.
What we’d really, really like to leave with
1. The Grammar of Ornament
“If I could afford 106, and afford to frame all 106, I would have all of these in my house,” Dom says. Though lithographs are traditionally black and white, these colored versions, or chromolithographs, are each made with upward of 25 to 30 colors.
2. Little Bison Co.
Though focused primarily on prints, the shop’s got a fair assortment of home goods as well—including these candles by NWA’s Little Bison Co. “They’re soy-based candles, they’re locally poured, and they have really great smells—plus, they use essential oils to make their candles, so there’s no chemicals,” Dom says. “And if my lack of inventory says anything, they’re super popular.”
3. Keeper Bin
Designed by Juliana Engler, an industrial design student from the University of Houston, these deceptively simple aluminum stands are used to repurpose plastic grocery bags as trash bags. “It’s like, I never have to buy trash bags again,” Dom says. “Plus, they’ll never scratch.”
4. Hawks Folio by Peter Mazell (1765)
The couple has started shopping some larger art auctions (see below), but Dom says you never know what you’ll find stopping at every little antique store on the side of the road. This folio set of hawks from 1765, for instance, one of the nicest sets in the shop, was found in a flea market in Tulsa.
5. Prints from the Audubon Imperial Folio edition (1845-1848)
Although Dom and Courtney get much of what they find in flea markets and antique stores, some prints—including one hand-colored by the son of John James Audubon, the legendary naturalist, ornithologist and painter for whom the Audubon Society is named—was purchased from an auction.
6. Prints from the Audubon Octavo Edition (1849-1854)
“These are the first octavo printings of birds and quadrupeds of North America,” Dom says, noting that they’re the only printing that Audubon personally oversaw the printing of. “As somebody whose stick figures are really bad, it’s amazing to see art like this.”