For most shops and boutiques, making the sale is what matters most. Over on 19th St., Manready Mercantile has a different outlook than most and believes what truly matters is the story they tell about the items carried within the store – and also that the stories have a positive ripple effect from a consumer and business stand point.
The home goods store recently celebrated their one year anniversary on March 28 and 29 at 321 W. 19th St. Before moving into their shop in the Heights, Owner Travis Weaver and a few of his buddies were working in his cramped apartment to turn pre-existing products that were typically only marketed and sold to women into items that were okay for guys to use too. The crew started taking products that could be manufactured in Weaver’s apartment like candles, bubble bath and bath salts.
“Stuff like that really wasn’t all that manly, but why was it only okay for women?” Weaver asked. “Those are things that guys could use, but for some reason it got one sided over the years and it became pink bottles and smelled like flowers.”
Changing that one-sided perception is exactly what Weaver did. They made bath salt, but called it a ‘tub soak’ and put it in a whiskey bottle. They made bubble bath, but called it tub elixir and, again, put it in a whiskey bottle to give it appeal to their male audience.
“We made those one-sided things okay to use and it was great because we created a market for women to buy for the ‘hard to buy for guy,’” Weaver said.
After putting together their initial product line, Weaver went door-to-door selling at wholesale. Then Weaver started gaining interest from retailers and acquired a strong following. That was when Weaver said he knew they were on to something. The small shop started making additional items like wallets and leather goods and kept expanding their creative process to keep producing and selling. Eventually they made an online store, where Weaver took photos with his iPhone and uploaded them to the website.
“The website was doing well and I was doing really anything to get out there and just hustle,” Weaver said. “I wanted to prove a point that you can come from nothing and you can make it. I didn’t start with a lot of money or anything. I just worked hard and never gave up.”
When it came to work and manufacturing products, Weaver was never afraid to ask for help from his friends and neighbors. Over time enough money was accumulated to pay for an extra helping hand. Then another helping hand. Now, Weaver staffs ten employees and the store is steadily growing.
“The idea isn’t to make a bunch of money and drive around a Lamborghini,” Weaver said. “The idea is to make a lot of money so you can make more products from other small businesses to create more jobs. I think if more people did that you could start a kind of trend and there would be more jobs and more made in the U.S.A products.”
Manready Mercantile carries only made in the U.S.A products and focuses on smaller brands and individual makers. These makers come from all over the country, and one specific maker flew in from Los Angeles, CA to celebrate with the shop and to meet the community.
“My staple is eyewear,” Neil Bardon, Founder of Saint Rita Parlor said. “My most important thing is that the story is being told and portrayed in the right way. It’s not about the numbers; it’s about the way the story is supposed to be told.”
Saint Rita Parlor was built around a heritage sentiment, for Bardon’s grandmother Rita. Bardon incorporates family sentiments into his work and this is why he says that the story behind the products is important. Bardon is currently featured in one of New York’s number one men’s stores – In Carson Street Clothes.
There are a lot of shops and businesses who laid the groundwork for business owners and tenants on 19th street and Weaver said he is indebted and grateful. The anniversary party was planned to thank those who laid the groundwork, but also to thank their customers and clients for making the store what it is today. The building that Manready Mercantile calls home has been a few different businesses, but Weaver says it’s theirs now and they aren’t going anywhere.
Follow them on social media to stay in-tune @manreadymerc