It takes a village

The Mercantile at Towne Square in Titusville is set to open soon. The retail incubator features individual shops in an indoor setting

Imagine strolling along a brick street, stopping in quaint little shops to chat with the owners, maybe purchasing their wares and then picking a cozy spot to relax under some puffy clouds and nibbling on some gourmet cuisine.

Imagine again if you didn’t have to travel to a distant land to experience this old world ambience. While your imagination is still engaged, envision this all available indoors.

The Mercantile is set to open in Titusville next week, possibly by Monday if everything falls into place.

The Mercantile, known to those involved in its planning as “The Merc,” is a retail incubator, owned by Titusville Community Development Agencies (TCDA). It is designed to accelerate the growth of a new business by offering support resources and services.

Business owners lease space in one of the indoor shops and collaborate with their shop-owner neighbors. The aim is to share costs and rewards.

The Merc is located at the site of the old Thompson’s Drug Store at 105 South Franklin Street.

The concept of the indoor retail incubator was introduced in 2016, according to TCAD Executive Director Laurie Baker. The first public meeting about a potential repurposing of the old drug store was held in 2017.

Baker admits it seems like it has been a long road to get to opening day, but sometimes it’s worth the wait. “There were delays and some businesses had to back out,” Baker said. “Then COVID-19 happened.”

Despite delays, the project has progressed. Cleaning, decorating, painting, signage and rearranging are just about all that’s needed to open the doors to the public.

As of mid-week, several of the stores inside were occupied. A coffee shop called “The Well” was all set up for customers. Another shop called “Dynamic Gear” is located across the “street.” It features sports equipment and non-lethal self defense items.

The kitchen will be occupied by Curbside Streat Company. Baker said that once tables and chairs are set up in the front window area, patrons can visit the kitchen or bring food from either of the neighboring breweries, Lavery Lager Haus or Orr’s Brewing Company.

The front area was not the original site chosen for a dining area, Baker said. “We thought we would locate it in the back area near the kitchen,” she said. Input from public meetings changed all that. “People wanted the seating to be near the front window, like it was in the old drug store,” she said.

Lots of other scenarios were envisioned as The Merc came to be. There’s a party room for small gatherings, a front porch where a business might want to set up a small display to “test the water,” a balcony that will be decorated according to the season and even “grass” around the outside of each shop.

For more information and to keep up to date on a definite opening date, Baker suggests people watch their Facebook page.

Drumm can be reached by email at ldrumm@titusvilleherald.com.

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