MB Mercantile recently opened in Fort Worth Stockyards’ Mule Alley, and shoppers are more than pleased with the store. Chief Creative Officer of Stockyards Heritage Linda Berman says she’s extremely excited about the store—both its present and future.
When Stockyards Heritage began brainstorming ideas for Mule Alley, they were looking for a certain kind of retailer: nostalgic, warm, friendly, reflective of the past, but with modern flair. A store that exemplified the romantic nature of the West and the world of cowboys and cowgirls, but sold more than exclusively Western products. So, they scoured the nation for a brand that fit their vision. When they came up empty-handed, Linda got an idea: they could create such a store themselves.
To pitch her idea, she created a 50-page look book to present to her peers to help them “envision what a store like this might look like, and they went for it.”
Linda’s passion for the store goes beyond years of preparation. She wanted to make sure people knew that Stockyards Heritage wasn’t just working on the area’s development haphazardly; Linda notes that putting a store of Stockyards Heritage’s own creation would let people know that they believed in the project.
The store may have just opened, but Linda has been working on the concept for years. “I’m pretty passionate about it. This is a concept that lived in my mind for a few years before we opened our doors. It’s been very real to me for a few years now.”
The store’s development team wanted to create a store that told a story and gave customers a full experience, and it started with the location.
“The environment is kind of larger than life,” says Linda. “100-year-old brick bar with a 27-foot ceiling and brick walls. It’s a retailer’s dream. To start off with a structure like that was amazing.”
Linda and her team began working with designers and architects that she hoped would “honor the majesty of the building.” She wanted to “see people walk in and be wowed” and have it be “larger than life and also intimate and personal at the same time.”
In her opinion, they hit a home run. The store’s design already has people reaching out for photo shoots!
As for the product assortment, MB Mercantile has, in Linda’s words, “a very interesting product mix.”
“I suggested a broad range of products and price points that was broader than just Western,” says Linda, and she got her wish.
They bought products at market, but also decided to create some of their own original pieces, including over 400 pieces of art and graphics which were applied to a number of different products. Additionally, MB Mercantile carries a number of antique products and even recreated some vintage pieces. “If you mix old and new, you make both look more interesting,” says Linda. The brand insisted on a mix of “need” and “want” goods.
“I think its very exciting that we have things that cost $1.50 and things that cost $1,500, and people are coming in and getting excited across the board,” she says.
And whole families are getting involved. Women, men, and children alike can find something they like that’s in their price range at MB Mercantile.
Both locals and tourists frequent the Stockyards, and Linda considers MB Mercantile to be “a local store in a tourist destination.” Though the store does sell Western lifestyle products, it was important to Linda that it did not carry tourist products, and instead placed emphasis on the experience of the store. “The store was always intended to be extremely experiential.”
For Stockyards Heritage, it’s very important that MB Mercantile creates an experience for customers. “Really what we’re collecting now is experience…giving people an emotional connection to a place.”
They want to continue to build that experience into the future, and even make it better. Linda wants to “extend [the store’s reach] beyond the doors” with events in the Stockyards and elsewhere. Their Cowboy Carnival Collection, made up of 100 products, inspired a real-life Cowboy Carnival, to be held annually in the Stockyards. In the store, the brand has big plans for the near future; in-store events like book signings and VIP shopping. “What’s happening in the store will become much more experiential,” says Linda.
MB Mercantile’s future looks as bright as a gold buckle. “We will absolutely be creating a compelling e-commerce site. That’s the plan.”
Overall, Linda and MB Mercantile want people to enter the store and return to simpler times. “For me, the biggest accomplishment is that we created this very warm environment—and by that I mean it sucks you in and makes you feel good and is far less complicated than the world today, but still fresh and modern.”
For more information about MB Mercantile, visit fortworthstockyards.com.