Vintage Mercantile, located in Antioch, Illinois

Gift Shop Plus Fall 2021
The Town of One Thousand Lakes By Debbie Eisele

Vintage Mercantile is a vintage industrial style Illinois brick-and-mortar store in a historic downtown location

Vintage Mercantile is located in historic downtown Antioch, Illinois. Throughout this brick-and-mortar, vintage industrial style reigns. Its three employees work together with Debora Winkler, owner, to create a merchandise offering that is as unique as the store’s 100-year old building.

Vintage Mercantile

“We work with over 100 artisans from around the U.S. to bring unique and hand-made gifts to our town. Since the building we are in is over 100 years old, I decided to use vintage pieces as displays…like a vintage NYC postal sorting piece as a display for local honey, a nuts and bolts metal piece displays magnets and stickers, an old claw foot tub displays all the hand-made soaps, a large wooden work bench displays all our bar items, etc.,” Winkler shared.

Vintage Mercantile

Antioch is known as “the town of one thousand lakes” and this was a source of inspiration for Winkler. “I offer custom handmade items with the lakes on them,” she said. “I have designed pillows, bottle openers, coasters, and keychains. I also love our little charming town, so I design many items that have our town’s name on it. People love it!”

Vintage Mercantile

Vintage Mercantile’s best-sellers include hand-poured candles that feature dried pressed flowers, whiskey and bourbon candles as well as pet bandanas. But, its most requested item in inventory is the insulated tumbler that reads: “The Real Housewives of Antioch.”

Winkler does not attend any in-person trade shows, instead she sources product from Faire, Abound or Tundra. “We have also partnered with Naples Soap Company after I vacationed in Naples and loved the products; I knew I had to bring it to Illinois,” she detailed.

Vintage Mercantile merchandise display

Winkler shared a few tips: “Don’t follow the norm… think outside the box…use unconventional items to display and to sell.” She also suggested frequently rotating displays to showcase new offerings.

“People have seen it all, so they want unique and fun items. Change the displays and get new products… keep your customers interested,” she explained.

Debbie Eisele

Debbie Eisele is the former managing editor for Gift Shop Plus, Stationery Trends and a variety of special issue publications, including: The Guide, Holiday Shop, Celebrations & Occasions and Waterfront Living.

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