Business In Progress

Motor Palace Mercantile

You may have noticed a dramatic slow down of articles on Winslow.Town. It’s not because I’ve gotten tired of writing them, or because there are a lack of stories on the corner––quite the contrary––it’s because I’ve spent every free minute on our building renovation at 213 North Kinsley with the plan of opening for a “sneak peek” before the Standing on the Corner Festival and the Just Cruis’n Car Show. Before I get into details about the Motor Palace Mercantile, let’s first talk about…

The Building’s History in Winslow

213 N. Kinsley started life as the Vienna Bakery in the late 1890s.

The Motor Palace Mercantile location, photo from 1905 of the baker standing with his horse cart in front of Vienna Bakery.

It remained a bakery under various names until the early 1940s when Sears moved in, leading off three decades of department stores including Krause’s, Lehman’s, and Montgomery Ward.

Motor Palace Mercantile in the 1950s when it was Krause's Dept Store
Motor Palace Mercantile in the 60s when it was Lehman's Dept Store
Mr. and Mrs. Lehman inside the store that will now be Motor Palace Mercantile
Street scene including the Motor Palace Mercantile location when it was Lehman's

Sometime in the 80s it became an antique store and remained such until we bought in 2017.

Interior when Motor Palace Mercantile was On the Corner Antiques.

The Transformation

Over the last six months, we’ve been working to transform 213 N. Kinsley from a tired old building to a truly beautiful space.

We’ve ripped out layers of old carpet and tile, painted the interior, built a dividing curtain wall, put in a patterned-tin ceiling over the ratty acoustic one, built window platforms from 100-year-old hardwood, and painted the exterior.

The interior that once depressed me now thrills me with its beauty.

You can read more on the Mercantile website by clicking this link.

So what will the Mercantile sell?

In the beginning, we thought we might reopen as an antique store, but as much as we love old stuff, we had a few other things we wanted to try.

Old-style Mercantiles and General Stores used to sell a variety of goods–and that’s what we’ll do as well. We’re going to experiment with different ideas and see what works, but our primary focus is Made-in-USA Quality Goods with a motorcycle/classic car vibe, like US-made shirts, bandanas, hats made by a family in New York, Schott Leather jackets, leather gloves, and more. In addition to new clothing, we will also have “Motor Palace Mercantile Classics”—pre-owned and vintage leather jackets, western shirts, motorcycle and car t-shirts, and other interesting items we come across. The decor will be heavy on the vintage/antique side, with fixtures like our fabulous hat model Motor Palace Alice (thanks for the name Kevin!).

1940s mannequin hat model for Motor Palace Mercantile, named Motor Palace Alice

But clothing isn’t all there’ll be.

We’ll of course stock some Route 66 and novelty items (again… US Made), along with traveling provisions like gourmet walk-away foods and healthy snacks. We’ll also stock retro sodas and some interesting treats. Think picnic-basket-under-a-shade-tree-in-a-lovely-summer-dress-with-your-favorite-fella kinda stuff.

Royal Crown Soda boxes at the Motor Palace Mercantile

But what about the antiques?

Many of the antiques we bought with the building will be used as fixtures in the Mercantile. Those we don’t use will be interspersed with the other Quality Goods and listed for sale. Brian and I love old stuff, so you can be assured we will mix in the old with the new.

Quarter-sawn oak filing cabinets for displays at Motor Palace Mercantile

Motor Palace Mercantile Sneak-Peek

By September’s end, we’ll be far enough along to open the doors for a sneak-peek. We won’t have the full product line yet, nor will all the work be 100% complete but enough to show the flavor of what we’re doing. During the September sneak-peek, we’ll have some Motor Palace Mercantile branded t-shirts and few other select pieces, plus Classic leather goods and clothing, along with a variety of antiques and miscellaneous items that were part of the building purchase.

We’ll be open for just a week, from September 27th – October 6th for the Standin’ on the Corner Festival and the Car Show, and then I’m going on my dad’s family fishing trip in North Carolina while Brian minds the building projects here. Afterward, I’ll return to California to pack up our stuff and officially move. Through the slower months of winter, we’ll finish up the work–like more electrical, signage, and getting the awning tin back on–plus we’ll get the rest of the product line. During the winter, we’ll open the doors during select events to work out the operational bugs before opening full-time in the Spring.

Exterior of Motor Palace Mercantile

To keep up on progress and see the merchandise as it comes in, follow the Facebook page and/or Instagram feed. You can also subscribe on the website to get on the e-mailing list.

Motor Palace Mercantile logo

So there it is. The reason I’ve been so quiet on the Winslow.Town magazine. I have a few articles in the draft stage, like an update on the in-process Flatbed Ford Cafe and the newly opened Sleepin’ on the Corner AirBnb. I also have an article about a local family recently seen dancing on the corner; and one about an artist who came through town with a special friend. There’s one I started to write about the Peace Train carrying a man giving back to the community; and finally, one about a Corvette that literally stopped traffic on the corner. I’ve still been posting on Instagram and Facebook, but I miss writing these stories and can’t wait to get back to it.

Speaking of writing…

In addition to housing the Motor Palace Mercantile, 213 N. Kinsley will also be the official home of Winslow.Town!

And now it’s time for me to get back to work and go neutralize the concrete stain Joe Benham and I laid down so we can be ready for our “pop-up sneak-peek” in just nineteen days! Wish us luck!

Staining the concrete floor at Motor Palace Mercantile

Until next time…

Take it Easy


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