If you've ever been left scrambling, trying to find a special gift for someone at any point in the year, Clermont Mercantile is here to help. Those fall and winter markets and festivals are great for picking up an out-of-the-box gift, but when you missed the event on the weekend or it’s the middle of spring, there aren’t many options.
“You go to a lot of these festivals in the area — Mule Camp, Clermont Days, Gold Rush — and you see so many of these talented people that have anything from home decor to arts and crafts, clothing, jewelry, candles, you name it, really,” said Jeff Hood, owner of Clermont Mercantile. “I just wanted a location where they could sell these items seven days a week if they wanted to instead of just having to lug everything around to festivals.”
Hood opened up Clermont Mercantile Friday, Dec. 6, in the showroom area of Iron Accents, just off Cleveland Highway in North Hall. He’s hoping to eventually have about 25 vendors there.
“I'm going to try and stay away from antiques as much as I can,” Hood said. “I really want to focus more on crafts, home decor … I want it to be folks that are making their own things and spending a lot of time doing it.”
While the space will benefit shoppers who come to pick out a gift or something for their own home, Hood is hoping to focus on the vendors. It’s a concept he said he enjoyed seeing in Texas.
“I've lived and worked out in Texas a lot off and on through the years, and you see a lot of these places out there,” Hood said. “I just thought it'd be a great idea to focus on and try to keep it to as many local folks as I can.”
The first person to get a spot at Clermont Mercantile was Beth Canada, who owns Sassafrass Tea Studio. She embroiders all sorts of items, including key fobs, shirts, dish towels, hats, aprons and even pillow cases. She makes signs and vinyl designs for tumbler cups, too.
“I had been looking around, trying to find some place where I could put some of my things for sale,” Canada said. “And then, all of the sudden, my daughter-in-law tagged me in a post that the Clermont Mercantile was coming and I told my husband, ‘That’s it. That's where I'm supposed to go.’”
She’s been working with embroidery for about five years and goes to a few markets during the fall and winter, but the Clermont Mercantile is a space where she can set up shop and not have to worry about the weather or even being at her booth to sell her products.
“They can have a retail front, but they don't have to manage it,” Hood said. “All they have to worry about is keeping up with their inventory.”
When you’re at Clermont Mercantile, you'll be able to shop around at the booths filled with different vendor’s items. When you’ve found something you like, you can take it to the front and check out. The store will receive a 5% commission on gross sales.
Hood said the idea for this space has been in the works since February and he’s happy to see it finally become a reality. Once he saw the building and the location, Hood knew he had to jump on it.
“It was just one of these things, it took a while to get the wheels in motion,” Hood said. “It always seemed like I've had these ideas so to speak, and whether it's capital or just the guts to do it, it just never came to fruition … This was a fantastic opportunity, so I kind of kicked the lid off the 'what if' bucket and just did it.”
And now that he’s done that, shoppers and vendors just like Canada will benefit.
“I think it's a great thing for the community,” Canada said. “I really think that he's got a gold mine there and if it just kicks off, it will be great.”