The top 10 most popular stories on the Flyer in 2011

As 2011 draws to a close, we thought it might be interesting to take a look at the top 10 most read stories on the Fayetteville Flyer for this year.

Not surprisingly, the list is made up of stories that had direct impact on our community.

There was the tragic death of an iconic Dickson Street figure and, in turn, a longtime Dickson Street business. There were stories that made national news including the opening of the world’s smallest Walmart store and a Star Wars-themed grilled cheese food truck. Of course, it wouldn’t be Fayetteville without some sports thrown in.

Aside from the over 1,700 Fayetteville stories here on the Flyer, we posted over a thousand news bites on Twitter, we nearly maxed out our Facebook staff profile and started a new page that serves up links to all our content. Our Instagram account, where we post photos and news, twice received national acclaim alongside NBC News, ABC News, NPR, and CNN. We also dabbled a bit with Tumblr and most recently, Pinterest.

As we look to 2012, we promise to continue providing helpful and interesting news and information, free of charge, in as many convenient formats as possible.

Here’s the top ten list. Any surprises?

1. Flying Possum Leather owner Bruce Walker dies in store fire

Dickson Street lost a piece of its soul when 57-year-old Flying Possum Leather owner, artist, and craftsman Bruce Walker died after a fire at his store one morning in early March. Walker opened his shop more than 34 years ago where he made custom sandals, leather belts and guitar straps by hand, and shared his complex theory about how shoes with elevated heels and tapered toes were the root of all evil.

2. Now open: Walmart on Campus

The smallest Walmart store in the world opened in January on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville, just in time for the beginning of the school’s spring semester. The 3,500-square-foot store is located at the north corner of the Garland Center and is part of the retail shops which line the front of the parking deck on Garland Avenue.

3. Photographer captures brief Kappa Sigma response to Occupy NWA protesters

Local photographer Drew Wilson captured a sign that briefly hung from the Kappa Sigma fraternity house on the University of Arkansas campus one afternoon in October. The sign, which read “The 1%”, was a response to an Occupy NWA protest across the street at the corner of Dickson Street and Arkansas Avenue and was only in view for a few moments before it was removed.

4. Coming Soon: Hammontree’s ‘Grillenium Falcon’ grilled cheese food truck

The Fayetteville mobile restaurant trend was kicked off in epic, classic style with the reveal of The Grillenium Falcon, a Star Wars-themed grilled cheese food truck created by the owners of Hammontree’s restaurant. The Grillenium Falcon made its debut at the Block Street Block Party in May and has since grabbed the attention of food truck fans across the world and, of course, members of the Rebel Alliance.

5. Razorback 2011 football schedule released

After finishing the 2010 season with a Sugar Bowl appearance, it’s no wonder Razorback Nation was hot for the Hogs in early 2011. Despite not making it back to a BCS bowl this year, Arkansas ended the season ranked 6th in the BCS standings and is headed to the Cotton Bowl to face Kansas State Jan. 6 inside Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

6. Shooting on Olive Avenue leaves one dead, one injured

One person was left dead and another was injured after a double shooting in the Washington-Willow Historic District one night in late November. Residents in the neighborhood waited nearly four days for an update on whether the home invasion which led to the shooting was a random act of violence or a targeted crime.

7. Fayetteville Dollar General stores approved to sell beer

Fifty Dollar General stores across the state were approved to sell beer in late September including both Fayetteville stores. Permits for alcohol sales outside of dedicated liquor stores have been on the rise since the 2009 approval of beer sales at an E-Z Mart on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Recent applications submitted include Ozark Natural Foods and Harps.

8. Flying Possum Leather catches fire, one person hospitalized

As a testament to the impact of the Flying Possum Leather fire, two stories about the incident made our top 10 list including the initial report that a person was found inside the building and was transported to the hospital. Fears that the person might be owner Bruce Walker were soon confirmed, as was his death. Bugsy, Walker’s well-known shop dog, survived.

9. The NFL Draft and Ryan Mallett

Going into last season, former Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett was heralded as one of the elite quarterbacks in college football. He proved everyone right by putting up improved numbers over an already-impressive 2009 year. Although his draft stock took a slight tumble in 2010, Mallett was selected by the New England Patriots in the third round to serve as a backup for NFL star Tom Brady.

10. Chipotle Mexican Grill coming soon to Dickson Street

A possible burrito battle loomed in Fayetteville when Chipotle Mexican Grill announced the opening of a Dickson Street location, a few doors down from Qdoba and just around the corner from Flying Burrito Co. The news sparked a mild debate among local residents concerned about the location’s proximity to the two other fast-casual burrito restaurants.