When Saba’s Western Wear closed the doors to both of its Old Town stores — as well as those in Cave Creek and Mesa — this year, it felt like a gut-punch to not only the community, but also to owners Marion and Richard Saba.
“My husband’s office is at Brown and Main and he still goes down there; and he may not say it, but I know it’s very emotional for him to see it close,” Marion previously told the Progress. “Lots of people have called and said, ‘We’re sad to see Saba’s (close).’”
Now that Saba’s, which originally opened in 1947, has left Old Town, another unconventional retail space will open in its place: The Merchantile of Scottsdale, founded by Eugene and Kimberly Pak.
Slated to open in October, The Merchantile isn’t your traditional brick-and-mortar store; it’s a boutique marketplace and co-retail space that addresses the need for a collaborative small-business incubator.
“The vision behind The Merchantile’s co-retail concept is to help small local businesses grow by offering a trendsetting destination retail space with an ever-changing mix of hip products cultivated by Arizona tastemakers and artisans,” Kimberly said.
The 5,400-square-foot space will house both independent and locally-owned brands, selling everything from clothing and accessories, to home décor and artwork.
But it doesn’t start and end with shopping; The Merchantile plans to be a more interactive, hands-on experience for visitors.
According to a press release, visitors can also meet and learn from local artists and craftspeople, create their own items in a DIY area of the co-retail space, attend a variety of shopping, creative and social events; take photos in an Instagram-friendly space; and relax in the air-conditioned, indoor seating area boasting a “sleekly designed,” “modern desert aesthetic” — all the while sipping artisan coffee from an on-site vendor.
The Merchantile will also function as an event space by partnering with community organizations and brands looking to host public and private functions and pop-up events.
The way the co-retail space is described, The Merchantile hits on a couple predicted retail trends of 2019: experiential retail, where consumers crave a more engaging shopping experience and great customer service; and multi-channel shopping, especially if the artisans at The Merchantile have an online shop and social media presence.
So, if Eugene and Kimberly can pull it off, The Merchantile, theoretically, should be a hit with customers. But what about merchants?
“Opening an independent retail location is a dream come true for any small business owner, but overhead expenses and the challenge of generating traffic are big concerns that keep many small business owners from taking the next step,” Eugene said.
Small companies will not only share space and foot traffic, but they’ll also have a place to open a location without the overhead costs.
“For the first time in Arizona, independent brands will have the opportunity to have a brick-and-mortar storefront within a bustling retail destination in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale without the overhead costs of operating an independent location,” Eugene said.
The Merchantile of Scottsdale began its search for vendors earlier this year, and while Eugene and Kimberly amassed a wait-list of more than 100 brands, they’re still accepting vendor applications from brands offering a variety of inventory, including clothing, accessories, home goods, art and more.
“We are actively looking for brands looking to join The Merchantile’s exciting and diverse product mix,” Kimberly said. “Curating a unique mix of products and vendors is key to creating a one-of-a-kind shopping experience so we are always on the lookout for new and exciting vendors to join the mix.”
In the end, The Merchantile’s goal is to support local, Kimberly added.
“When a brand joins The Merchantile, they become part of a community of like-minded small businesses and brands looking to grow their businesses together,” she said.
For more information about The Merchantile or to apply to become a vendor, visit themerchantile.com.