Move over, Bayshore Mall! There’s a new mall in town, and this one is pretty much way cooler. It’s called the 4th Street Mercantile, a brand new business on Fourth Street between C and D Streets in Eureka that holds more than 30 local vendors all under one roof.
The business is the brainchild of owners Crystal and Aaron Woodbury Haynes, who used to live in McKinleyville and moved back to the area about a year ago. When lived away and returned to Humboldt, the couple would spend time visiting the flea markets and outdoor vendor markets – such as the Friday Night Market and the Old Town Vintage Market – and realized that although these were good options for some people to sell their wares, the area really didn’t have a permanent, indoor vendor market.
The couple owns and operates a furniture business, Worthy of Love, which specializes in restoring used and antique home furnishings. As owners of a furniture business, they know that attending outdoor markets is not really an option for folks who sell larger items.
“Most furniture vendors can’t do the little markets downtown because [the booths] are 10 by 10,” Crystal told the Outpost during a tour of the soon-to-open store. “So when we started this, we decided we were going to provide big spaces and make those spaces available for people who wanted to carry larger merchandise.”
After looking at a few other spaces in Eureka, the two opted for the Fourth Street location, in the building that previously held the office of defunct newspaper the Eureka Reporter. Though it is not an area that necessarily gets a lot of foot traffic, they were happy with the size and layout and the fact that it has a parking lot, which they will use to hold open air markets on occasion.
Once they secured the spot, the owners put out a call looking for vendors to rent out the booths. In less than a day, they had almost completely filled their available spaces and now have a long waiting list of small business owners who want to jump on board, they said.
In addition to their own furniture business, the mercantile holds a variety of other local vendors selling all kinds of items, including refurbished and custom furniture, vintage clothing and accessories, glassware, art, handwoven blankets and much more. The Woodbury Hayneses said that they try to make sure that there is a lot of variety and that no two vendors are too much alike. Though a few of the vendors carry some new items, nearly all of the merchandise is either recycled or hand-crafted.
The way it works is that the vendor pays a monthly fee to rent their booth space (the cost varies, depending on the size, with the biggest spaces costing $500 per month) and price their own merchandise with their own tags. Once the vendor has set up their space, they don’t have to stick around to man it or hire any of their own staff. The owners take care of all the sales and provide the vendors with their money, minus a 10 percent service fee. This type of business model is ideal for vendors who can’t afford to rent their own entire shop, or don’t have the time or the savvy to run their own business.
Angela Hunt, owner of Rustic Whimsy, a shop that carries a combination of new and used items and custom furniture, decided to close down her Scotia shop in favor of moving into the 4th Street Mercantile because the setup allows her more time to focus on creating her pieces rather than spending it running a store.
“The shop does okay, but people just don’t always make it out to Scotia,” Hunt told the Outpost while setting up at the mercantile. “I’ve been looking for a space like this. … This is ideal for me because I don’t have any employees, so this gives me time to work on custom pieces.”
The space also holds a community classroom, which is available for the vendors (or other folks) to hold workshops and classes. The room can hold up to 24 people and can be rented out for $100 – with $50 due upfront to hold the spot and the other $50 due the day of the class. Hunt is very excited about the classroom, she said, because she sells a special kind of chalk-paint for making over furniture and housewares and has always wanted to hold a class to show people how to use the product.
Because the mercantile holds many different businesses, the prices vary, but the owners said it is important to them to keep items as affordable as possible. They will offer layaway for pieces that cost $100 or more, allowing customers to pay half of the price up front and the other half when they pick it up, which can be up to 30 days later. In their own furniture store they also offer a “recycle furniture program,” Crystal said, where you can bring in a piece of used furniture and receive store credit. It’s okay if the piece needs some love because restoring furniture is what they do, but it does need to be real wood. No particle board, folks.
“We understand that people are struggling,” Aaron said. “We have kids and we see our kids struggling and we try to help them as much as we can. Now we’re just trying to put it out there so we can help others as well, because everyone is struggling right now with the cost of everything.”
4th Street Mercantile will be holding a grand opening this Saturday, Sept. 30 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will feature not only the vendors inside the store but also 20 outdoor vending booths, multiple food trucks and music. Starting on Saturday, the store will regularly be open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If you are interested in renting a space at 4th Street Mercantile or just learning more, you can call the store at 707-798-1731, message them on Facebook, or just come in! The owners want you to see the space before you commit anyway, so they would love for you to come say ‘Hi!’
Scroll down for more photos of LoCO‘s peek inside the new store!