Customers are greeted with the sweet aroma of freshly baked goods like cookies, cannolis, fudge and more at the 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 saw each other 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 cafe and restaurant in New Jersey.
They returned to Farmington to be with their sick mother.
The Kings decided to open a special business in downtown Farmington. That’s when they decided to open an old business. They knew they needed somewhere special, and that’s where Brian and Carla Wilson come in.
The building where Columbia Street Mercantile is located belongs to the Wilsons. They completely renovated the building before the Kings signed their lease to open the mercantile.
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Mercantile took a lot of planning and preparation. The couple knew they needed tall shelves to display their wares, so Tim found the massive back wall shelves that were in an 1882 general store in Illinois. Tim rebuilt the shelves piece by piece. Then he built a brand new front counter that perfectly matched the original shelving.
The Kings opened Columbia Street Mercantile in April. They have included many products to appeal to shoppers of all ages. From sweets to delicious desserts to toys, the Kings wanted to have something for everyone.
When customers visit the store, they feel like they are stepping back in time. There are rows of jars filled with “penny” candies sold for 10 and 25 cents each.
But perhaps the biggest highlight of all is the vendor’s artisanal ice cream. Ice cream is made daily in small batches in different flavors. There are a few standards every day as well as many unique artisan flavors freshly made every day. In addition, there are classic Chipwich and Gooey Butter Ice Cream Sandwiches made with homemade ice cream and freshly baked cookies, as well as freshly baked waffle cones in various flavors.
For thirsty customers, there is an assortment of old-fashioned glass bottles and artisanal sodas made from 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 to the store, along with ice cream cakes and ice cream treats for dogs.
There are toys for all ages, including items from Ty and Metal Earth. There’s even a Missouri section with made-in-state items, including local honey from a Bonne Terre apiary, other food items, toys, and gifts. They also buy Blair Cedar and Novelty Works products from Camdenton.
“We have a great selection of toys that you can’t find at the big box stores,” Tim said, “and we have options at great prices for all ages.”
He added that the merchant offers many other unique items that are hard to find in other stores.
“We also source most of our produce locally,” Tim said. “It’s really important to us to support other small businesses or local businesses.”
Tim is happy to be back in the area with his family.
Michele agreed that Farmington was a great place to raise their children.
“We’ve had so many great customers in the business already,” she said, “and we’re happy to be business owners in such a large community.”
Eight employees are on staff at Columbia Street Mercantile and are ready to serve Columbia Street Mercantile customers from noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. The store is closed on Sundays except for special downtown events.
Pam Clifton is an editor for the Daily Journal