Customers are welcomed by the sweet aroma of freshly-baked goods like cookies, cannolis, fudge and so much more at Columbia Street Mercantile.
The new business, located at 30 East Columbia Street in downtown Farmington, is owned by Michele and Tim King. Michele is from New Jersey and Tim is from Caledonia. The couple first met in Cleveland, Ohio, at a trade show. When they met again two weeks later in San Diego, they knew it was “meant to be.”
The couple married in 2002 and have three children. They have owned several businesses together, most recently a coffee house and restaurant in New Jersey.
They moved back to Farmington to be with their mother who was ill.
The Kings decided they wanted to open a special business in downtown Farmington. That’s when they decided to open an old-time mercantile. They knew they needed a special location, and that’s where Brian and Carla Wilson come in.
The building where Columbia Street Mercantile is located is owned by the Wilsons. They completely renovated the building before the Kings signed their lease to open the mercantile.
The mercantile took much planning and preparation. The couple knew they needed large shelving do display their products, so Tim found the massive back wall shelving that had been in an 1882 general mercantile in Illinois. Tim rebuilt the shelves piece by piece. Then he built a brand-new front counter to perfectly match the original shelving.
The Kings opened Columbia Street Mercantile in April. They have included numerous products to appeal to shoppers of all ages. From candy to delicious desserts to toys, the Kings wanted to have something for everyone.
When customers visit the mercantile, it feels like they’re stepping back in time. There are rows of jars filled with “penny” candy sold for 10 and 25 cents each.
But perhaps the biggest highlight of all is the mercantile’s handmade ice cream. The ice cream is made daily in small batches in various flavors. There are a few standards each day as well as many unique artisan flavors made fresh every day. In addition, there are classic Chipwich and gooey butter ice cream sandwiches made with the homemade ice cream and freshly-baked cookies, along with freshly-made waffle cones in different flavors.
For customers who are thirsty, there is an assortment of old-fashioned glass bottled and artisan sodas made with pure sugar. Brands include Ski, Fitz’s, Breese and even Mexi-Coke.
The addition of fresh coffee beans sold by the pound will soon be added at the store, along with ice cream cakes and doggy ice cream treats.
There are toys for all ages, including items from Ty and Metal Earth. There’s even a Missouri section with items made within the state including local honey from an apiary in Bonne Terre, other food items, toys and gifts. They also purchase Blair Cedar and Novelty Works products from Camdenton.
“We have a great selection of toys that you cannot find in the big-box stores,” said Tim, “and we provide great-priced options for all ages.”
He added that the mercantile offers many other unique items that are hard to find at other stores.
“We also buy most of our products locally,” said Tim. “That’s really important to us to support other small or local businesses.”
Tim is happy to return to the area with his family.
Michele agreed that Farmington is a great place for them to raise their kids.
“We’ve already had so many great customers come into the mercantile,” she said, “and we’re happy to be business owners in such a great community.”
Eight employees are on staff at Columbia Street Mercantile and ready to greet customers at Columbia Street Mercantile from noon to 8 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. The store is closed on Sundays except for special downtown events.
Columbia Street Mercantile
30 E. Columbia Street, Farmington
Pam Clifton is a contributing writer for the Daily Journal