Main Street Mercantile
Although Main Street Mercantile opened only seven months ago, owner Darla Fisher is projecting that this month’s revenue will exceed even the best month of her previous store, Koze, which closed in June 2020 after 17 very successful years.
It all began in 2004. Darla was living on the peninsula in Moss Beach with her husband, Jon, and looking for a local spot to open a new women’s clothing shop.
The couple decided to consider moving to Marin County, and Jon asked Darla to check out a property a friend had recommended in Mill Valley. “We’d heard good things about the area,” Darla says, “so I set out with written directions to Mill Valley – this was before GPS – but I got confused and turned right instead of left and ended up in downtown Tiburon.”
When Darla arrived at the end of Tiburon Boulevard, Main Street was closed off with people setting up for the very first Friday Night on Main Street.
“I parked, wandered down the street and went into Sam’s for a drink,” she says. “That’s when I first got to know Chip while sitting at the bar. By the time I came out, a band was playing, the festivities were going strong and everyone was having a great time. Then, as I crossed the street, I saw a vacant store with a For Lease sign. I already was thinking I’d found heaven, but I couldn’t believe it when I saw an empty store for lease!”
Within two weeks, the pair had moved to Tiburon, and Darla was in the midst of opening up her women’s clothing store, Koze, at 16 Main Street. This marked the beginning of the store’s continuous growth, with each year showing a better profit than the last. Six years later, about the same time as her daughter Avery was born, Darla expanded Koze to include the space next door at 18 Main Street.
Recently, Darla began to think about adding a mercantile store to her endeavors, but when the feasibility of doing two stores ran into problems, she decided to close Koze and open a new store - Main Street Mercantile - in its place, although the timing put the change in the middle of the pandemic.
“When I told my team about my idea, they all loved it,” she says. “I wanted to keep them together with no furloughs and, as it turned out, it took all of us working from June until October 2020 to be ready to open the new shop.”
Besides Darla, this team includes general manager Tiarra Meyers, buyer and visual director Lindsey Davis, buyer Paula Figone and Anna Bueker in sales. Because the new name, Main Street Mercantile, is so long, the staff and many customers now refer to it as “The Merc.”
“Opening a new store in the middle of COVID was incredibly difficult,” Darla says. “Because of the virus, we couldn’t actually go and touch and feel the merchandise, so we had to look through 20,000 pages of on-line catalogues that took eight hours a day, every day and then try to imagine what those items actually felt like.”
One big change at The Merc was dropping items made in China and substituting them with merchandise made by companies in more acceptable locations. “We also actively pursue companies in the U.S. that have female owners, are diversified, are not available on Amazon, are fair traders and practice giving back,” Darla says.
So far, Main Street Mercantile has reduced its vendors from China by 50-percent and now 70 to 75-percent of its dealers are from outside China. “We also are focusing on becoming green,” Darla says. “To start with, the new store has all energy saving lighting and all our packaging is recyclable.”
The two store spaces separate the variety of merchandise carried at Main Street Mercantile. Women’s apparel is in 16 Main, as well as accessories, jewelry and hats. A few of the more popular brands are Frank & Eileen, Rails, Michael Stars, Mother and Frame Denim, as well as Lulu Designs and Temple of the Sun Jewelry.
The home goods can be found next door at 18 Main. “I like to think that anybody, both locals and tourists, can come in and either find the perfect gift or that certain item they’d given up looking for,” Darla says.
The selection here runs the gamut, from candles, bath and body lotions, pillows and bowls to star dominoes, Mongolian lamb rugs, baby clothes and wall decorations, plus pet items.
It’s not often that a shop reopens during the pandemic and immediately surpasses its best month, but Darla and her team have done just that.
“We project that this month will exceed our best month ever,” Darla says. “Koze had 17 years of growth each year, and 2019 was the best of all. Now we’ve surpassed that at Main Street Mercantile.”
Main Street Mercantile is open Mondays through Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Masks are required while inside the store, but private shopping is available by appointment. They offer free shipping for items over $150 and free gift-wrapping. They take all credit cards, including Apple Pay.
For more information, go to mainstmercantile.com or call 415-435-1916.