by Stephen Dafoe
Located in the former Highstreet Interiors building on 100 Avenue, Mercantile offers Morinville something completely different and yet hard to explain. Mixing one part furniture store, one part antique store, and multiple parts of retro curiosities, the shop is already creating a buzz in the community.
The shop is the brainchild of Susan Swanson and David Mills, the latter the owner of the antique shop in St Albert’s Grandin Mall for the last three of its 12 years of operation. When the mall was demolished, Mills no longer had a venue for his items.
The business partners decided to open a shop in Morinville when the Highstreet location became available to give local and area residents an opportunity to explore and own unique items from the past and present for their homes.
“We sell antiques, retro items, brand new, never-used, and everything in between,” Swanson said of the new venture. “We purchase estates. We can help people that are downsizing, and [we] also accept items on consignment.”
Regardless of where they acquire the goods for Mercantile, Swanson and Mills are careful in what they put on the floor, needing to know where the item comes from and the story behind the item. In their business, the story is often as important as the item itself.
“It’s something we pride ourselves on – everything is hand picked,” Swanson said, adding quality is the key. “We don’t go to auctions. Word of mouth is all we’ve been working so far. We’re able to tell if it pet-free, smoke-free.”
Mills is quick to point out that while the business involves hunting for, finding, buying and selling interesting items, the occupation is not like it is portrayed on shows like American Pickers.
“I’ve done this for 25 years, and those shows are so not the way it is,” Mills said. “It appeals to people, and it creates excitement. It’s tying to bring regular price items up to unreasonable values. I think they’re just trying to take advantage of the consumer and glorify things that shouldn’t be glorified.”
One of the things Mercantile pride themselves on is their pricing. Swanson said she has already seen dealers coming in, some of whom have said their prices are too low.
“We don’t want to be a museum. There’s a museum across the road,” Swanson quipped, adding they want to price the products so as to move items to make room for a stream of unique and interesting items coming into the shop.
In addition to many unique items, Mercantile is also showcasing unique art by regional artists.
“There are many talented artists in the area that don’t have the venue to support their marketing requirements,” Swanson said, adding the store is currently showcasing some pieces by a local wood carver as well as work by a Stony Plain artist that does airbrushed art.
Regardless of whether it is a piece of art, collectible or antique, Mills said he believes the quality of the inventory and the affordable pricing makes the items sell themselves. For him, it all boils down to meeting people.
“It’s all about having fun and enjoying what we do,” Mills said. “We want people to come in the door and have fun. You don’t have to buy anything. People walk through the store and remember having things as a kid. You see the excitement. You see the twinkle in their eye of them being excited about something they had as a kid or their grandma had. It’s memories. It’s all about memories.”
Mercantile is open Tuesday to Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. During the summer; the store will operate Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.