Heritage Mercantile Co. is a gorgeous sunlit store located in Costa Mesa. Established in 2013 the custom fittings, shiplap walls and tiled floor create the impression of being in a beautifully decorated home, and is the perfect environment for showcasing a range of unique, handmade goods. Owner, Jennifer Bloch, shares the story of Heritage Mercantile Co, her inspirations and insider tips with The Shopkeepers.
What are your best selling items? I’d say our specialty is our culinary and apothecary sections, featuring staple items such as reclaimed wood cutting boards and our Honeysuckle + Grapefruit Body Oil. The jewelry section is up there as well; all of our products are unique and purposeful.
Can you tell us more about the products you stock? The majority of our makers are small batch artisans, using the finest ingredients. Whether a body oil, soy candle, or locally- harvested finishing salt, everything is thoughtfully considered — from content and manufacturing process to the design.
What makes Heritage Mercantile Co unique? I’d say it’s the way we touch on all of your senses. We create an environment that feels like an escape from the everyday.
Who are your customers? Women of all ages and the significant others of those women, who know they can always come to us for something special. Our customers leave feeling even better than when they arrived in the shop; we really work hard at that.
How has the internet impacted your business? We have a website and we load about half of what’s in the shop — mostly our key items, but the great majority of our business doesn’t come from that medium. I prefer the face-to-face relationship and community- building a brick and mortar brings to a neighborhood. We’re that kind of shop — the one you come to for your needs, but also where you go for a little break or to feel connected. We work hard at creating that sense of community through our workshops, underground dinner parties and knowing our ladies so well. We know what to recommend to a friend for her birthday or helping her husband to create the perfect Christmas gift. We also create seasonal gift boxes to help her feel more at ease during the hectic parts of the year.
Jennifer Bloch, shopkeeper at Heritage Mercantile Co.
Who inspires you? My grandmothers. They are the quintessential definition of grace, strength, creativity and family. I look to their legacies and how beautifully they loved.
What inspires you? Travel, without a doubt, but equally nature and the natural world. The color combinations and patterns are perfection. When traveling, I learn so much through history, and that balance of past with modern day.
Before I was a shopkeeper, I…. was a Waldorf kindergarten teacher, and before that I was a stay at home mom and even before that I was a merchandiser and designer of retail spaces and trade show booths, window displays and styling for photo shoots.
The hardest lesson learned in starting a business? The time and commitment it takes to build nothing into something.
What task do you like to delegate? I don’t like clearing through emails. It’s so difficult for me to sit at a desk for that long. I do it in intervals over three days, but honestly, most of the time I’m lucky if I sit down once a week and make myself do it.
The best lesson you have learned opening a shop? To trust your instincts and make time to be in a place to recognize that voice.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? Don’t take on loans, be honest with yourself about the expectations, your family commitments and limitations.
Which famous person would you like to visit your shop? Barack and Michelle Obama, I’d love to have them over!
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? A Hotelier, with a little farm-to-table restaurant attached or an Archeologist! I’m a Gemini! What can I say?
What is your perfect day off? Day off..what’s that mean? (Ha! I’m kidding). Driving up to Malibu to Paddleboard, grab dinner at Farmshop, then taking a rose petal bath, sipping a glass of wine in my favorite etched glasses (from my grandmother) before falling happily into bed.
Can you share your favorite shops? Almond Surfboards (my neighbor) with their beautifully crafted surfboards and clothing, March in San Fransisco, Labour and Wait in London, Catbird in Brooklyn and Huit in Laguna Beach and Coast Modern in Seal Beach are special spots as well.
Your favorite neighborhood coffee shop or restaurant? Oh I love Haute Cakes just down the street; the owners, Paul and Tania, are truly lovely and the breakfast is a delight! Other favorites are Outpost Kitchen, Eat Chow and Sidecar Doughnuts (all in Costa Mesa) and Zinc Cafe in Corona Del Mar are all super delicious and Vacancy Coffee in Newport Beach has the best Matcha Latte ever!
I wish I could… take a year off and travel the world with my kids, change our education and foster care systems to better serve, start a couple of new businesses ideas, build my dream home….The list goes on and on…
On the Future of Retail
“The world feels much smaller these days. Everything is readily available at your fingertips. My inclination is, it’s about creating a small town feel but a worldly outlook. So finding unique, well-made items that aren’t saturated or trend-driven and building long lasting customer relationships.”
Photography by Jeffrey Allee | Shopkeeper portrait by Hanna Bloch