Jennifer Gayton looks toward the future as she brings the “nostalgic presence of downtown” to her new shop, Queen City Mercantile.
The shop at 110 Bradford St. in Gainesville welcomed its first guests at a soft opening Oct. 6.
“We really just wanted to bring something special to downtown that continued to represent Gainesville, and we hope this will encourage other businesses to know that we have space available to come in and make Gainesville what we all want it to be,” Gayton said.
Gayton also owns District 101 clothing boutique down the street.
The name derives from the city’s history as the “queen city of the mountains.” And Gayton is hunting for historic items to display.
Standing prominently in the shop are two columns from the original First Baptist Church, which burned down in 1960.
“We have been searching to try to find other historical elements, and we still need other display pieces,” Gayton said. “Anything else we can find that is historic to our town, those are the things we will first and foremost try to put in here.”
She also has put a lot of thought into the future of the new store.
“We want it to be a modern mercantile, not an old town general store,” Gayton said.
While at first glance the mercantile looks like a boutique, Gayton said plans are in motion to make it into a community gathering location with grab-and-go eats and workshops.
“We are not completely finished yet,” Gayton said. “We don’t want it to just be a shopping destination but a meeting destination where you can shop, linger, eat, take a class and get to know the community. Right now, it looks like it’s just another clothing boutique, but it is not the end result of what our goal is.”
Queen City Mercantile will offer a cake bar with indoor and outdoor bistro tables for customers to enjoy. Guests will be able to buy a slice of cake, sit at the tables and shop in one stop.
Their 12-foot table, which holds a variety of products right now, has a dual purpose, Gayton said.
“We are going to create a calendar where we may have classes two to three nights a week,” Gayton said. “We have a lot of different artists, and we want to get those people here, and then get our customers hands-on creating their own design.”
Queen City Mercantile carries local artisan products including clothing, jewelry, dream catchers, journals and cards.
“We really want the people who live here to support us not just because we are a new business, but because we want them to support local,” Gayton said. “We want to bring unique here. We want them to come out and celebrate what is local and want them to know we are trying to be unique for them.”
Gayton said they are trying to “support small businesses that may not be able to have a storefront.”
Gayton said opening this store is about the future of downtown.
“We are not just investing in sales from people walking in, we are trying to invest in the community,” Gayton said.