Ever since Conway reached sprawling metropolis status, the smaller neighboring towns have worked to make their retail economies ever more attractive to the locals. It’s a good plan. We Conway folk used to lament the leak of sales tax revenue into Little Rock that finally stopped when the new movie theater was built. Greenbrier residents are fighting their own battle when it comes to keeping all their shopping and dining dollars from going south.

Aiding in the fight is June Carter of Greenbrier, who recently purchased The Neighborhood Coffee Shop from her friends Tim and Tracy Wilkinson. The Wilkinsons opened the café (at 34 South Broadview) in February.

The small café has comfortable seating, tasty-looking desserts on display and Wi-Fi for its customers. They serve soups, salads, sandwiches, espresso drinks, desserts, and breakfast. A big selling point, Carter said, is that they use Coursey’s meats from Marshall, AR. Apparently the name alone is enough to get a lot of people in the door, and others are sold once they take a bite. The customers I eavesdropped on during my visit all had rave reviews about whatever it was they ate.

Carter said the biggest seller on the menu is the chicken salad, which she is renaming "Tracy’s Chicken Salad" after Tracy Wilkinson, who created it. Apparently it is so popular she sells out of it regularly, no matter how much she makes. Other combinations of words on the menu that made me hungry included: ham and cheese croissant, cream cheese Danish, key lime pie, chocolate chip cookie, etc.

The Neighborhood Coffee Shop is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Carter said she is starting out small, but she is already dreaming about the future and possibilities of expansion and longer hours.

Carter said she has dreamed about having her own coffee shop for years, and she loves the location in the middle of town near the junior high school.

"I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I love cooking, and I love coffee," she said.

The Conway Farmers Market opened last weekend, and now Memorial Day weekend is here. There is no doubt summer is here and it’s going to be hot from now on. Fresh produce is one of the most wonderful things about summer, in my humble opinion. It reminds me of my grandparents’ garden during my childhood years. The farmers market is open from 6:30 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in downtown.

(Rachel Parker Dickerson is a freelance columnist/journalist. Send your questions and comments to rachelpdickerson@gmail.com)