Erik Sward, owner of Bell & Sward, talks us through his Conway store’s new location, its special Martin Dingman collection, and why the shop is the perfect source for the modern Southern gentleman
Erik Sward: Bell & Sward was started in the spring of 2014 with my mother-in-law, Zanette Bell, and myself being the namesakes. My father-in-law and my wife have always been supportive and helpful whenever asked, so it is truly a family business. We are now in our third location on Oak Street, and we’ve doubled our size with every move. Zanette stepped away from daily operations last fall but remains involved with other facets of the business. She is the mastermind behind the design of the new store.
ES: Bell & Sward consists of elevated styles and brands for the discerning gentleman. We try to carry everything that a man might need in his wardrobe—including suits, sportswear, ties, shoes, socks, leather Goods, and outerwear. Our style is very classic with a modern twist mixed in here and there. We pride ourselves on selling quality goods that are going to last a long time. Our major brands are Martin Dingman, Peter Millar, Johnie-O, Barbour, Vuori, Faherty, and Jack Victor.
ES: The experience starts once you walk in the door and are welcomed with the aromas of leather and wood; our aesthetic is like a rustic lodge or hunting cabin. Zanette has impeccable taste and design taste. While she has retired from the day-to-day operations, she is still heavily involved in décor, displays, and merchandising.
ES: Our Martin Dingman Lodge is the only one in the state of Arkansas and one of 11 or 12 in the country. Martin Dingman is known for quality and craftsmanship. He does not cut any corners in production—all shoes are handsewn on the last and belts are made by hand. Martin began the company over 30 years ago after starting the leather goods and accessories line for Cole Haan. He and his wife, Gay, have been joined by their three children, Grayson, Elle, and Avery in the family business. They live in Branson, Missouri, and all products are made in the factory in nearby Lead Hill, Arkansas, so it’s a local brand. We are Martin’s home state lodge and he spared no cost in the design of the Martin Dingman Lodge at Bell & Sward.
See the space
You’re invited to Bell & Sward’s grand re-opening—with a special celebration of the Martin Dingman Lodge—from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, October 13. Meet designer Martin Dingman, who will be on site for the festivities, and enjoy wild game hors d’oeuvres and drinks. A portion of all proceeds that night will be donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
To learn more about Bell & Sward, visit bellandsward.com.