Retail Therapy: If Etsy.com Had Stores and Why Tech Is Now a Section at Crafts Retailer Michaels

Retail and real estate entrepreneurs are turning former big box stores into places where cottage industries can find customers.It's a physical world response to what Etsy.com has done for home-based businesses nationwide since it launched in 2005 focused on handmade or vintage items across several categories.These general merchandise stores sell the same categories and often use the old retail term "mercantile" or the more current one popularized by Amazon, "marketplace" in their names.When you slap a name like Mercantile on a store, "you can sell virtually anything, and we do," said Clare Freeman, general manager of the Richardson Mercantile, a 55,000-square-foot store that used to be a Whole Foods Market on Coit Road. It has a sister store, Frisco Mercantile.It's a growing retail niche business across the U.S. in suburbs and tourist towns and it's not the old antique mall, if that's what you're thinking.Think boutique quality folk art and one-of-a-kind items made from wood, metal, glass, ceramics and fabrics made into gifts and home décor items. There's some vintage apparel and new items from budding retailers displaying their ability to curate merchandise.Lone Star Mercantile, founded in 2017 by two local couples, uses barcodes and point of sale software that allows vendors to be absent while their customers shop and pay at a common checkout at the front of the store.  Continue reading...

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