HURRICANE –Twelve years ago, Myka Desormier bought an antique store called Mercantile Antiques and Consignment, opening her first retail business near the intersection of Main and State streets in Hurricane. Four years later, she opened a one-of-a-kind gift shop, the Gypsy Emporium. Both moves were a gamble, but today the sister stores are among the city’s most successful businesses.
The stores are located in different buildings on the same lot, a few hundred feet apart. The Mercantile offers 4,000 square feet of antiques, 90 percent of which are sold on consignment. The Gypsy Emporium, which at 15,000 square feet is Southern Utah’s largest antique store, features booths run by individual entrepreneurs who lease space in the sprawling store.
Not too long ago, Desormier also introduced a new and returnable clothing section at the Gypsy Emporium after tourists kept asking where they could buy a sweater or other clothing. She experimented with a 10 by 10 clothing section. He did so well, the entire second floor is now dominated by clothing.
There is “something to tempt everyone,” she said.
“It’s not just old stuff, it’s a great mix of all kinds of stuff, especially at the Gypsy Emporium,” Desormier said. “It’s new, old, handmade, distressed. And among all the customers, some people say: “Oh, I like the Mercantile better”. Some people say, ‘Oh, I like the Gypsies better.’ It’s really interesting.”
Desormier was at a crossroads when she first moved to Utah after a divorce. Her parents, who had retired to southern Utah, were showing their daughter some local sights and decided to drive to Zion. “We were driving through Hurricane and they were like, ‘Oh, an antique store! Let’s stop, ”Desormier said.
The trio loved the antique store and when they learned that the owners – a married couple who founded the store in 2003 – were offering booth rentals, they decided to give it a try. The family ran an antique stall for about a year when they heard the store was closing.
“And at that point (2010) was when the economy fell,” Desormier said. “I was working in a copper mine in Milford which grew… You couldn’t find a job anywhere. I was like, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to do?’ “
Then, the saleswoman of the Mercantile had a brainstorm.
“She called my mom and said, ‘Your daughter should buy the store,’” Desormier said. “And literally three days later, I was signing papers and owning an antique store.”
Desormier was slightly nervous. She had never owned a business before and had an operating budget of exactly $ 1,000. She just stepped forward, trusting her intuition.
“I definitely live my life like a rolling stone and wherever it takes me I go with it,” Desormier said. “I just know, ‘Oh, this will work.’ There is no other way. “
Ownership of Mercantile Antiques and Consignment turned out to be a “if you buy it, they will come” proposition. Between locals checking out the new Mercantile at 15 E. State St. and tourists taking the SR-9 via Hurricane to Zion, the cash register has started ringing.
In fact, one of Desormier’s first investments in the business was the purchase of a fully functional 300-pound brass cash register from the turn of the last century.
“Everyone loves the cash register,” she said. “It’s one of the things everyone comments on. “
There are antique items everywhere you look: Pyrex mixing bowls and whimsical figurines, typewriters, and tools. There are tin cans that once held food like Dainty brand crackers and many western products. Vinyl records and vintage jewelry are arguably the biggest sellers in the Mercantile.
Desormier has an employee who artfully organizes the merchandise, organizing vignettes to match the fabric and season. Currently, that includes Christmas trees, antique holiday decorations, and vintage ice skates. A lot of people will come in and spot an object and say, “I don’t know why, but I have to have this.
Desormier said, “I refer to that as, he’s talking to you.”
If it’s really love, Desormier doesn’t advise clients to go home and sleep on it, because the next time they visit the Mercantile, he will likely be gone.
“Most antique shops tend to be what people call museums. You go there, time and time again, and nothing seems to change, ”Desormier said, adding that this was not his vision for his stores. “Every time you walk in it shouldn’t look the same. It’s a question of turnover.
There are others who do not hear the call.
“Some people are like, ‘I don’t want clutter, I don’t want anything. “And, for me, when you walk into their homes, it’s a bit boring or it’s cookie-cutter,” Desormier said. “I like to be stimulated by seeing things. And when people come in and say, “Wow, that’s a bit like soaking up,” I’m like, “It’s empowering. “
The Gypsy Emporium
Another antique store has sprung up in the same mall as Mercantile Gifts and Consignments called The Ugly Trailer. When that store closed in 2014, friends and customers advised Desormier to open a store in the now vacant space.
“I was like, ‘I don’t know if I’m really capable of doing two stores,” Desormier said. “So I kind of looked at it, and one weekend I typed in the numbers and said, well, okay.”
Desormier opened The Gypsy Emporium (25 E. State St.), which has since grown into the two companies’ biggest money generator. She adores the Mercantile but the Gypsy holds a special place in her heart because it is her idea. This isn’t the kind of store you want to jump into if you only have five minutes to spare, as it has an even wider selection than the Mercantile, from embroidered tea towels to Navajo blankets and license plates. vintage representing the 50 independent clothing states. it’s anything but a cookie cutter.
Twelve years after the game started, Desormier feels comfortable enough in town to pronounce the hurricane like a local – “Herri-kin”.
“When in Rome,” she said.
She had a brief scare when COVID-19 popped up and people weren’t going out, but she weathered the storm by offering pick-up purchases. Desormier is happy to announce that 2021 has been its best year in terms of results. At the end of November, it posted record profits at the nationwide celebration of “Small Business Saturday”.
The Gypsy Emporium in particular has developed a reputation for being a wonderland for those who love to roam. Last summer, the store was chosen to represent Utah in an MSN article listing “The Best Vintage Store in Every State.”
Better yet, Desormier is in good company. Her parents are still involved in the store, helping out every day, and she has found community among repeat customers and her hardworking employees. Running two stores is a lot of work, but it’s a job that never goes out of fashion for this connoisseur of unique items.
“I’m still learning something everyday,” she said.
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