Oser Communications Group

Kitchenware News September 2019

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Bandon Mercantile Sells Reliability 2 KITCHENWARE NEWS & HOUSEWARES REVIEW • SEPTEMBER 2019 • www.kitchenwarenews.com BY LORRIE BAUMANN Bandon Mercantile is a hybrid store in Bandon, Oregon, that carries both kitchenware and a range of clothing that reflects the kind of casual Pacific Northwest style that its owners like to wear themselves. "We just love the kitchenware part of the business," says Beth Wood, who owns the store along with her husband, Ed. "For one thing, you can't make as huge a mistake in that as you can with the clothing." Beth and Ed Wood opened Bandon Mercan- tile in 1985 after moving to Bandon from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to enjoy the friendly seaside community in southern Oregon where Beth's parents had chosen to retire. "They were driving around Oregon, and when they got to Bandon, their car broke down and they never left," Beth said. Beth and Ed came to visit and promptly fell in love with the community. "It's just such an awesome place to live – and the ability to live here and make a living here, it's just such a big plus," Beth said. "People would literally give you the shirt off their back." While they liked the town's seaside am- biance, its climate and the small-town friendliness of the community, they still had to figure out how to make a living there. "There weren't any jobs here – timber had just gone down the tubes, and fishing wasn't going well," Beth said. "We wanted to start a business that was for the locals – doing kitchenware. We have found that the tourists really love that, so we've done very well on that too." They found a building that had been built in 1910 and has escaped two city-wide fires over the years. At 2,500 square feet with a front porch that's now used to display gar- den supplies, the Woods had space to add a few women's apparel items to their kitchen- ware displays. "We had done, even when we first opened, a few sweaters for women and some sweatshirts with 'Bandon' on them. The sweaters kept getting more popular, so we added more sweaters," Beth said. "It helps fill out the bottom line." Kitchenware, though, forms the core of the business, and the store offers an expansive range that includes Swiss Diamond, T-fal and Finex cookware as well as Shun and Henkels knives, "practically everything" made by Oxo Good Grips, Norpro tools, USA Pan bakeware, April Cornell linens and items from Joseph Joseph and Zyliss. Over- all, the inventory includes "just about every major manufacturer that does deal with small stores," Beth said. She also carries Tag home décor items as well as dishcloths from Design Imports (DII), which sell well. "We have some hu- morous magnets and things like that, but we don't do humor in the linen line," Beth said. "We've been able to pick out the best com- panies and carry their stuff, so we have the best selection at the best price. We don't sell anything in our store that won't hold up. Products have to do what they say – if it doesn't, we don't reorder it." In a community with a high percentage of retired people, Bandon Mercantile's typical customer is 45 to 80 and is very likely to wander in looking for a gift either for a wed- ding or for Christmas. "Men absolutely love the free gift wrap," Beth says. "We really treat our customers well.... We are attentive with- out following people around in the store. When we do help, we do it cheerfully." Although Bandon Mercantile doesn't get re- turns often, when something does come back, the staff takes it cheerfully, Beth said. "I'm always astounded at how few things come back," she said. "But we make sure that our things do what they're supposed to do before we sell them." When shoppers are looking for something for their own kitchens, that's likely to be a specialized item like a dough docker or a poaching pan for a salmon, Beth said. "We sell a lot of the big tweezers for removing fish bones," she said. "We sell the salt plates for cooking on and also the cedar planks. They might need a basting brush or a pot holder or a flipper – you never know.... When they come in looking for something odd, and you have it, it's just such a great thing." KN

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