New Life in the Old Merc!
Windows in the Old Merc have been uncovered and washed, and light is revealing the bustle of crafters, artists and antique dealers as they set up in newly constructed booths.
|Shauna Fry prepares for her booth of leatherwork -|
horse tack, belts, dog collars and more.
The worn floor has a new shine to it, proudly displaying its years of hard wear right down to the irreplaceable cigarette burns. An aged bathroom floor is pulled up to present a 1934 issue of the Denver Post, which will find its yellowed news-copy framed and on the wall. The aged counter wood has a new role as a fence around the cashier. Old Crouch Mercantile Exchange is a ninety-year-old crone with a new attitude.
When the public walks through the doors on opening day, November 1, it will be a return to old times. The antique cash register and scales, photos, memorabilia, and the wood stove in the sitting area will welcome them home and bid them to take a load off.
Connie Taylor-Hunt is an artist who creates log furniture, wood arts, dolls, pencil art and more. She has been in charge of the metamorphosis of the sad building into a wonderful, functional store again. Her intention, along with owners Greg Simione and Gerold Dennett, has been to promote hand-crafted arts and antiques and thinks this is the perfect historic building in which to do it.
“We’re trying to bring more people into the area to give new life to downtown Crouch,” she says, “The more they see here, the longer they’ll want to stay to visit other shops. It will help all of us.”
|Connie Taylor-Hunt with her own booth of handmade|
furniture, dolls and signs.
The Merc has also attracted several talented artists from Boise and the Treasure Valley; Trudy Glenn comes from Lowman. Greg Simione has been inspired by artists in town, who have been looking for a permanent venue to display their work and teach. Simione says, “A bunch of local artists work out of their homes. Connie and I want to open more opportunities to help showcase local artists and others. We are targeting Garden Valley but are open to artists from all over Boise County and beyond. We’d like a fresh look with rotation of goods...this building fits with all of our artists here.”
Two art rooms will be available for teaching classes. Windows are being installed. Every room and area has a history. Look for the booth space that has the holes in the floor, where rope was pulled up from the basement and measured off. The special space also has a trap door below which flour was stored.
Where the old deli was will be The Coffee Lodge, open later in November. The vendor will offer warm drinks and a variety of food. She says, “I first sold my Hot Mama Salsa out of this deli—it’s of significant value to me to team up with Greg and Gerold here.”
|Larry Logan is the man to have around when something|
needs to be done.
Gasoline will continue to be sold. Larry Logan says, “Still free of ethanol!”
Logan has done much of the labor on the transformation of the building. Taylor-Hunt says Logan is really handy to have around. He will be cashiering and helping with sales of the merchandise, with Taylor-Hunt helping. Larry Logan predicts that next summer this will be the focal point of the town: “Visitors can buy souvenirs, shop in the businesses, visit the Historical Museum—it brings more of a focus to the Trading Post and this end of town, too.”
The Old Crouch Mercantile Exchange will be open seven days a week, from 10 to 5, during the winter, with extended hours in summer. Taylor-Hunt says the November 1 opening is to say, “It’s coming! The Grand Opening will be on November 24, but this gives the town a chance to check it out and artists to see what we have and maybe decide to be a part of it. Please remember to sign the guestbook”
Booths are still available for different fees. There is no commission charged, just monthly rent, and vendors don’t have to be on site. Contact Connie Taylor-Hunt at 462-2632, 462-3817, or 781-1180.