The Garden Charm of Ninth and Co.

As the summer months continually beckon us outdoors, they also invite us to reimagine our outdoor living spaces, rethinking every green and paved square inch until it fits our open air dreams.

That’s when people come to see Megan Thomas. Thomas is the co-owner of Ninth and Co., an outdoor-centric retail shop and showroom located in The Promenade at Chenal. The business is an offshoot of Antique Brick & Block, a building materials store her father opened in the 1970s. In 2005, Thomas joined the family business at the same time it began offering outdoor furniture and accessories, an expansion that became known as Antique Brick Outdoors.

After nearly 20 years of growth on Ninth Street downtown, that expansion evolved again in 2023 into its current rebranded space on the other side of the city, and with a name that pays homage to its beloved Hanger Hill home.

Soirée sat down with Thomas to talk Ninth and Co., this year’s outdoor trends and why shopping local always pays more in the end.

Credit: Jason Masters
Megan Thomas

As Ninth and Co. operates under the Antique Brick umbrella, can you tell us how the two work together and what their key differences are?

MT: Antique Brick & Block offers all masonry-related building materials. Starting with the basic building blocks in the foundation of a home — the brick and stone veneers that often are the most daunting decisions for a homeowner — to the finished hardscapes of a patio and pool deck, we carry every element, even manufacturing many of the concrete-based items at our downtown Little Rock facility. Ultimately, Antique Brick & Block offers all of the permanent features of a home.

Ninth and Co. offers all the outdoor furnishings to complement the outdoors from dining to lounge spaces, fire pits and pool chaises, even art and accessories for the interior. In our previous location downtown, Ninth and Co. was more of a destination center with limited hours, but our move to west Little Rock has allowed us to expand our hours, offering a true retail shopping experience including weekend hours.

Both companies cater to both commercial and residential spaces and are characterized by a wonderful team of people focused on the customer experience from the initial design phases all the way through delivery and installation.

Credit: Jason Masters

When customers come to Ninth and Co., what are some of the most common problems they’re trying to solve?

MT: At times, budgets run out by the end of a project and little is left for outdoor spaces. While the outdoor furnishings we offer are high-end and can sometimes be pricey, we love the challenge of a budget. Additionally, space planning is a common challenge. Homeowners often want to include both dining and lounge spaces, and that’s not always feasible without crowding out a space. So we work hard to incorporate non-traditional seating areas — arranging ottomans as coffee tables or selecting decorative stools or poufs that serve as both end tables or additional seating — depending on the need. We also see a lot of customers who just need replacement cushions or could benefit from covers that help prolong the life of their outdoor furnishings.

Of all the services you offer, which is the most underrated?

MT: Our free white-glove delivery service and in-home design consultations, including space planning. It’s true (and unfortunate) that many of the products we offer can be purchased online directly from the manufacturer, and sometimes with free shipping. However, many of those items come in a box requiring assembly and boxes that need to be disposed of, and there are often damaged items and warranty claims that come from that. We take care of 100% of those headaches, and often for less than what is offered online.

Credit: Jason Masters

When someone is rethinking an outdoor space, what questions should they ask?

MT: When thinking of your outdoor space, it’s important to consider how you’ll spend your time. Do you enjoy dining outside? Or do you prefer to lounge and enjoy cocktails? If it’s truly dining, how many people do you plan to seat on a regular basis? A very important and often overlooked question is how much maintenance and upkeep you are committed to doing.

What popular new trends are you seeing this year?

MT: Sustainable outdoor furniture has become a cornerstone of outdoor living. Many of our products are manufactured with recycled ocean plastics, including the weaves. Even the fabrics are now produced with a minimum of 20% recycled content. Not only does this furniture have a great sustainability story, but it is virtually indestructible and amazingly low-maintenance.

Likewise, what classic elements do you think stand the test of time?

MT: While there has been a shift toward modern design and mid-century styles, the reality is that we are still in the South, and that Southern living charm still commands for many buyers. Teak and wicker are classic elements that we will continue to see in outdoor living designs.

Credit: Jason Masters

MEGAN’S MUST-HAVES
for the perfect outdoor gathering space:

– An element of fire, be it an outdoor fireplace or freestanding fire pit


– A chair that moves

– Plenty of throw pillows for fun color and pattern

– A rug (often overlooked, but truly help to ground and center a space)


PHOTOGRAPHY
JASON MASTERS
HAIR & MAKEUP
LORI WENGER
CLOTHING
BARBARA/JEAN
SHOT ON LOCATION AT
NINTH AND CO.


 

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