Resilient Ideas: Return of the Mercantile

How a small town in Wyoming replaced a dying downtown with a community-owned shopping hub.
mercantile interior

Photo by Morgan Tyree for YES! Magazine

When the last clothing shop in Powell, Wyo., closed its doors in 1999, townspeople started their own community-owned clothing store. Buying shares at $500 each, 800 residents raised a starting fund of $400,000. Powell’s Mercantile, also known as the “Merc,” restored a once-barren downtown with empty storefronts to a thriving shopping hub and saved residents a trip to neighboring towns or states to buy clothing.

“There are people in our town who don’t shop Wal-Mart. They shop at the Merc. They want to help support the local hometown,” says manager Joanne Anderson. The store has fared well through the recession so far, with daily sales in 2009 ranging from $1,500 to $5,000. And towns in Montana and Nevada have followed suit and started their own community-owned stores.

Tiffany-Ran.jpgTiffany Ran wrote this article for A Resilient Community, the Fall 2010 issue of YES! Magazine.  Tiffany is an editorial intern at YES! Magazine.

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  Low-Impact Urban Living
  Bike As You Are
  Return of the Mercantile
  Processing Food Where the Food Is
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  Reclaim, Repair, Rebuild
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