Powell Mercantile Closing

Powell – A community owned store that caught national attention is going out of business. The Powell Merc is owned by 450 area shareholders, who funded the startup in 2001, after the last private department store left town.
Powell is a small farming community in Northwest Wyoming. But, it was also home to a new spirit of self reliance in 2001, after the Stage Store left town. More than 400 people paid $500 a share to open a community owned clothing store. Business was brisk when it first opened in 2002.
The store downsized a few years ago. And now the investors are preparing to shut down the business.The store is liquidating, selling all of its merchandise…and soon, even the building itself.
Powell Chamber Director Jaime Schmeiser said, “Powell Mercantile was a pioneer idea, nationally known in its day. And now, we have new pioneers, a new face of business in our town.”
Schmeiser said the Merc was a victim of new buying habits: trips to Billings and shopping on the web. She says several new micro businesses are giving customers things they can’t find on the web.
She explained, “A place called Gestalt Studios which offers not only art classes and that sort of thing, but they have art shows and open mike jams on Friday nights.”
Schmeiser said Powell has its own brewpub now, and other specialty shops, like Heartworks, which features locally handmade items.
Powell Economic Partnership Director Christine Bekes said, “I’m disappointed the Merc’s closing. Like Jaime, without realizing it I put on clothing from the Merc today. But, I understand why and I think they tried very hard to make it happen and it’s just a different world.”
Bekes said Powell is becoming an artists’scene, providing places for people to create unique projects, and products.
She remarked, “So there’s really an energy about Powell right now that is in line with how Powell has been always: pretty progressive.”