Merchant, Los Angeles

Merchant, a Los Angeles shop featuring mid century furniture, art, ceramics and vintage Moroccan rugs, was founded in 2014 by Denise Portmans. Former stylist Denise established Merchant as an homage to her late mother, creating a space that connected objects from the past with present day artists. Nearby Merchant House, a Venice property, where Denise masterfully showcases and styles Merchant’s inventory is available for events, shoots and stays.


The Shop

Why did you chose the name ‘Merchant’? I liked what it represented as I am a Merchant.

Who designed the shop? As furniture, sculpture and rugs sell I find myself constantly redesigning my store. I try to make it feel like a new space each time I restock.

What are your best selling items? I’m most known for my vintage moroccan rugs, studio pottery and mid century furniture.

Where do you source your products? Most pieces at Merchant are vintage and locally sourced. But I travel to Morocco with my daughter where we hand pick all the vintage rugs through the Atlas Mountains twice a year.

What makes your shop unique? 
Merchant loves to support local artists and photographers, creating a mix between vintage and modern.

Who are your customers? 
My customers come from many different destinations.

Has the internet impacted your business? Instagram has allowed Merchant to be seen worldwide.


The Shopkeeper

Denise Portmans (seated), shopkeeper at Merchant

Who inspires you? My inspiration comes from many artists, designers and architects. To name a few: Louis Barragan, Ruth Asawa, Calder, Noguchi, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Charles & Ray Eames.

What inspires you? 
I am most inspired when I travel. I feel like it’s important to restart yourself by being in a new space out of your comfort zone. When I am in Los Angeles I replace it with galleries, books and film.

Before I was a shopkeeper… I was a stylist.

The hardest lesson learned in starting a business? I think the thing for me is learning when not to push myself physically, as Merchant can take a toll on your body.

What task do you like to delegate? 
Dusting & folding rugs.

The best lesson you have learned opening a shop?
 The best lesson I learnt was to to do what you love everyday.

Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop?
 To be patient and have trust in yourself.

Which famous person would you like to visit your shop?
 Nick Cave.

If you weren’t a shopkeeper who would you would be..?
 I would probably be a buyer that allowed me to travel and still work for myself.

What is your perfect day off? Driving to Joshua Tree to stay a couple nights in my 1966 airstream #merchantontheroad located at Joshua Tree Acres.

Do you have five favorite shops?
 I mainly like to go to Flea Markets : Santa Monica Flea Market, Ventura Flea Market, Rose Bowl, Long Beach antique market, and local markets.

Favorite neighborhood coffee shop? Gjusta, Venice.

I wish I could… avoid L.A. traffic.


On the Future of Retail

“I think unfortunately it relies on the internet and technology. I hope that people will still enjoy shopping in stores.”


3002 Lincoln Boulevard, Santa Monica




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