Mercer Place Boutique has called it’s building at the end of Antique Row home for 12 years. Lana Mercer has owned the resale shop for more than two decades and has witnessed a fair amount of change in the industry during that time. While 21st Century fashion practices have moved the shop into the digital age, the search for quality merchandise and a loyal following have kept it firmly planted in the Denver community.
Mercer was raised with an appreciation for resale retail. Her grandmother owned a resale shop in Phoenix, Arizona and though she found it to be rather “generic” she was attracted to the possibility of finding beautiful pieces at affordable prices.
From a very young age, she was drawn to fashion, specifically her mother’s accessories, and recalled her mom moving her scarfs from the top dresser drawer to the bottom so that Mercer wouldn’t get hurt in her pursuit of style. “She allowed me to play with them and her costume jewelry. She put it out of danger and shared it with me,” said Mercer.
Her passion followed her into adulthood where she worked in various roles in the retail industry before starting her own business. Doing so allowed her to raise two children on her own terms as well revel in self-expression on a daily basis.
Mercer wears many hats at the shop, including sole buyer, but she gladly takes suggestions from her two employees on everything from incoming merchandise to displays. Sonja Motley, sales associate and customer service extraordinaire, praised Mercer’s displays calling them the “persona of the store.”
The boutique’s inventory includes women’s clothing and accessories, children’s clothing, men’s clothing, homewares and furniture. Mercer’s favorite items to purchase are shoes and her love for those of the odd and hand-made variety dictates Mercer Place’s stock. Cotton candy pink cowboy boots, liquid gold ballet flats and leopard print pony hair oxfords rest on a massive shelf to the back of the shop alongside over 100 other varying styles. Prices range from about $50 to $200 depending on the shoe’s brand and all of the pieces are in great, if not new, condition.
“If there is too much DNA in the shoe nobody wants it,” said Mercer.
Wear and tear can make buying tough and so can the consumer switch from luxury brands to fast fashion. The turnover for trends is quicker than ever and Mercer names it as one of the reasons that people have moved to low-end retailers that specialize in it. Because of this, Mercer enjoys retro clothing. “I love the quality and it is repetitious. It always comes back. I don’t know that we’re going to have that situation in the next 25 years,” she said.
Mercer combats this change by “going with the flow” and staying open to different brands, styles and price points. “I’m not going to pretend to be a store full of Chanel and of high-end merchandise because I wouldn’t survive. I wouldn’t be in business,” she said. “I’m not ready to hang Old Navy or H&M but our slogan is from Gap to Gucci. I want everybody to be able to get a treat when they come in.”
New customers can make an appointment to bring in their treasures for Mercer to sort and potentially buy but she also remains loyal to customers that have sold with her and supported her through the years. She tends to stay away from consignment saying, “I just don’t care for it because I want to be able to say to someone that yes you can have that for cheaper without upsetting the third party.”
The community that she has built through Mercer Place has been her favorite part of the journey and she recently decided to extend that community online. The boutique currently has a store website that details hours and services but Mercer is excited at the idea of diving deeper and joining the world of Instagram.
Mercer admitted to not being the most tech-savvy person. “Because I don’t know the computer I’m afraid of it,” she said, but she is excited to learn. A cocktail party comparison to web communities caused a light bulb to go on for her. “You can sit and have a drink with somebody or just have a sip and then keep moving on or you can sit down and have dinner and really hang out with people you like,” she said.
If you are looking for one-of-a-kind pieces with affordable price tags then Mercer Place Boutique is a must visit.
You can keep a look out for their digital debut or stop in for a visit at 1388 South Broadway, Denver, Colorado.
All photography by Alysha Prieto