A few weeks back, area residents on Nextdoor saw a post from local resident Beth Mathews. The message, with the subject line “Seeking local artisans and artists,” described Mathews’ plans to open a pop-up shop in Steamboat Square. Her call immediately attracted the attention of both artisans and shoppers. Just a few days before, Mathews had created a web site for the new store, a cooperative called “Locavore Mercantile.” This online activity is now resulting in a retail store located just next to the Subway sandwich shop. Locavore Mercantile represents an exciting way for local artists to connect with local shoppers this upcoming holiday season.
Locavore Mercantile Grand Opening
October 15 and 16
6541 Sexton Dr NW, Olympia, WA 98502
We got together for an online chat with Beth Mathews.
Where’d you get the idea for Locavore Mercantile?
I make hypoallergenic jewelry and non-comedogenic skincare, and have been selling my products locally and online for about 6 years. I’ve had the fortune of participating in galleries, farmers markets, and one pop-up shop last December. I recently quit my part-time “real” job in order to focus on my own business. After carting goods around from market to market this summer, I wanted to be a little more stationary for the fall. The holiday season is an important sales season for artisans and artists, so it’s a great time to have temporary retail space. At this time of year many people are looking for gifts that are special, and artists and artisans are trying to fill those needs through their online sales or at craft shows. I knew I could not fill a shop alone, so I called on artist friends and put a call out for interested local artisans to join.
How’s the recruiting of artisans coming along?
We have an amazingly talented group of people in this shop. Many are local to the community or Olympia, and some are from as far away as Portland and Seattle. My goal was to bring in a range of products, from artwork that will last generations, to products you can use in your everyday life. When I started recruiting I wasn’t sure how the response would go, but I am proud of the work on display at Locavore Mercantile.
I’m adding more artists and artisans to our website page this week (slowly), as well as announcing them on Facebook.
Earlier today, Mathews posted a preliminary list of the artists that constitute the Locavore Mercantile “Departments”. Click here to catch up on the news.
Why set up shop here, on the Steamboat Peninsula?
I’ve been considering retail space in Olympia, but I live on the peninsula, so when I heard this location was open I figured why not be ultra-local? I personally don’t like making more trips into town than I need to, so I figured locals might like to shop locally. It’s turned out that, because of the cooperative aspect of the shop, this has been a great place to network with other local businesses.
Everyone at Locavore is a seasoned artisan. Our community has a lot of talented people! Many of the artisans are Etsy sellers, have online stores, sell at galleries throughout the northwest, and frequent art and holiday shows.
What would need to happen, for Locavore Mercantile to stick around past the holidays?
We need the community to shop at Locavore Mercantile! And we also need the time to form a democracy. As a pop-up, everything is happening lightning fast. With a large group of people, it’s hard to come to important decisions quickly. So for the pop-up, I took the lead and a leap of faith that we could assemble a one-of-a-kind shop in only a few weeks. We’ve done that. So our next steps are to see how the community responds to the shop, and we’ll start talking about what structure we’d like this to take in the future.
What is a pop-up shop?
Pop-up shops are temporary retail spaces, designed to excite interest in a company. In this case, over 20 local artisans are coming together to offer their products for sale in their community. Many of us sell online, or in shops in nearby towns, but Locavore Mercantile provides an opportunity to sell directly to our neighbors. It’s a unique assortment of art and goods that will not be found anywhere else in the world.
The list of artists and products lined up for Locavore Mercantile is impressive and growing. Home goods and stationary, pottery, cosmetics, fashion and accessories, puppets and books for children, photography and other fine art are already confirmed. “The shop is hosting a wide variety of goods made in the northwest, including handmade textiles, soap, cosmetics, jewelry, condiments, pottery, art, cards, and gift wrap.” Visit the web site for Locavore Mercantile for more details and don’t forget to mark your calendar for the grand opening weekend of October 15 and 16.
Check out Beth Mathews’ Kickstarter campaign, for Dirty Hippie Deodorant, an “organic wholesome natural deodorant made with essential oils, and packaged in eco-friendly packaging.”