You could easily spend hours browsing the booths and galleries at The Mercantile by Miller. You’ll find anything from food and jewelry to adult and children’s clothing, luxury sleepwear, furniture, art and floral arrangements.
Kay Miller opened The Mercantile three years ago in a space off Highway 119 that she quickly outgrew. Two years ago, the store relocated to its current home in Brook Highland Plaza on Highway 280. Using her decades of home remodeling and interior design experience from Yellowhammer Construction, Kay has created an eye-catching marketplace with something for almost everyone.
“It just kind of fell into place,” Kay says. “Of course, I was lucky enough to get a great general manager [Mark Tucker], too.” Mark was a manager at Chelsea Antiques for 22 years before joining The Mercantile team.
“When dealing with vendors for that long, you understand what they need to do to be in here,” Mark says, and that’s the expertise Kay needed him to bring to the table. “You need people who are willing to work their space … It makes such a difference.”
He knows how to help vendors display their wares in a way that will better attract customers. “I love for the vendors to do well,” he says. “They know we’re in their corner.”
The store currently has more than 40 vendors, and choosing the right ones has been essential to its success. “We’re very picky,” Kay confesses. When selecting vendors, she and Mark are looking for brands that are unique, upscale and will appeal to their customer base, which Kay describes as “traditional” women ranging from 20 to 70 years old.
Shoppers can start by visiting Dixie Pottery’s gallery for handmade pottery pieces, Shelayne’s Botanicals for custom floral arrangements or Kings Lane Boutique for women’s clothing and accessories. Then make your way to Patina Charm to find rustic yet elegant pieces for your home, stock up on Dixie Belle Paint and even take classes to learn how to paint furniture. A few of our other favorite vendors include award-winning artist Cindy Cail, Boho Rugs Forever and 3 Crosses by Misty Hughes.
The Mercantile is also home to glass art from Susan Ballard, who has been selling her work at the store since its Highway 119 location. “The Mercantile is a great place to sell because I just have to keep my booth stocked. Kay and her staff do the rest,” Susan says. “It’s a win-win for me.” When the store moved to its current location, Susan was happy to move with Kay and her team. “I love the new place. It’s brighter and just has a welcoming atmosphere,” Susan says. “Kay has provided us with a beautiful venue to sell our goods.”
To create a welcoming atmosphere, Kay and her team make sure to keep the store well-organized and well-lit. “Customers love that it’s so organized and clean,” Mark says. “They love that they can look in a space and see everything. It’s not cluttered.”
“We get a lot of compliments on how pretty it is but also on how friendly our people are,” Kay adds. “We strive for that, too.”
In addition to its sleek appearance, the space makes for a fun shopping experience. The music playing overhead is sure to get you in the mood to shop, and The Mercantile has been known to throw a good party, too. Kay and her team host several events each year, such as its Valentine’s High Tea Event and a spring celebration to highlight floral vendors. Its most popular event, however, is the annual Christmas open house. “We have people lined up down the sidewalk waiting to get in,” Kay says.
Since first opening, Kay has used Facebook and Instagram to attract potential customers and vendors. Moving into a shopping center near Lowe’s Home Improvement has certainly helped, too. “The wife will be in the car with her husband, and she’ll see the store and say, ‘Honey, you go into Lowe’s and come pick me up when you get through,’” Kay says with a laugh.
Though she admits she started The Mercantile on a bit of a whim, Kay is confident she made the right choice. “Even my CPA said, ‘I think you’re onto something here,’” she says.
We couldn’t agree more!
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