Shopping locally has never been easier than it is today. Experiencing the struggle of small businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, communities all across the United States began to band together in person and online to put their money towards organizations that make a difference.
Tara Dial, the owner and creator of Idaho Mercantile Company, has run her own small business since 2010, crafting her own puzzles, signs and souvenirs in Austin, Texas. Traveling for shows to display her handiwork, Dial met several other small business owners and crafters, and it gave her a passion for the community and connection they all share.
“Once I moved back to Idaho and started our company, it wasn’t just about supporting local, even though it’s in our title,” Dial said. “I wanted to support all of our handmade friends that supported us through this last decade, and we could do that with our physical shop.”
Dial knew she could use her retail experience to open her own storefront and have a space for these handmade goods. With her family living in Garden City, Idaho, Dial was able to start this process by founding Little Studio Collective in 2020. The studio created a place where Dial could dream up and produce her goods, while giving the same opportunities to other small businesses in the area.
In 2021, Dial met Kris Garman, the owner of Oakes Brothers at Indian Creek Plaza, and knew that Caldwell was the home for Idaho Mercantile Company.
“I fell in love with Kris’ vision and the space at Oakes Brothers,” Dial said. “We’ve been open just over a year, and the majority of our products are local goods, but we also bring in small-batch pieces from all over the United States.”
Throughout the last year, Dial has been able to meet local producers and grow her small business community within the Caldwell area. Her passion for historical, small-town America and curating comfortable atmospheres helped her fit right in with the other businesses in Oakes Brothers and on the Indian Creek Plaza.
“I absolutely adore the community here in Caldwell,” Dial explained. “Everyone has been behind our business 100%, from the other businesses, to the people we meet on the plaza, and the owners at Oakes Brothers. It has just been truly wonderful.”
With a business model that is so community-oriented, it’s easy to see why Idaho Mercantile Company fit right into the Caldwell family. The company’s mission is to lead the shop local movement in Canyon County by introducing the community to affordable, high quality, artisan goods.
“I strive to bring something a little different,” Dial said. “We support several of the local farmers here like Steele Legacy Honey, Molly’s Mills, and other vendors local to the Caldwell and Nampa area. We also work with local carpenters to bring in some of our specialty items. We’re just trying to bring something that supports not only our family, but also other local families at an affordable price.”
As they continue to get situated and plugged into the local community, Idaho Mercantile Company is excited to begin featuring more local artists to help give them a launching point for their business.
“Even this last year we’ve shifted to finding and discovering more local artists,” Dial said. “We want to support them as their businesses grow and give them a foundation for that, while allowing ourselves to sell more items local to Caldwell.”
Dial is planning to feature these local artists in a window display in her shop, showcasing their work to everyone who passes or stops in their store. These displays will be paired with a blog post on the Idaho Mercantile Co. website to give customers more insight to the lives of the featured artists.
So, the next time you’re looking for the perfect present, some new decorations, or simply need a bit of retail therapy, stop by Idaho Mercantile Company and know the story behind the storefront.
All photos are courtesy of Idaho Mercantile Co.'s website