Kathy Bergren and Judy Tabbut, two of the partners at the “Mercantile on Main” vendor and artist store.

Mercantile on Main among businesses aided by COVID 19 relief funding

From Otter Tail County 

Otter Tail County is sharing a few of the stories of those who used their capacity and opportunities for resources to recover from the difficulties of the pandemic. 

A total of 19 stories of Resilience in Otter Tail County: #1 Small Business and Non-profit Recovery and Relief Funding will be published by the county. 

The first story in the series highlights the endurance of the Mercantile on Main in Pelican Rapids.

The CARES grant came at the perfect time for the Mercantile on Main, a small shop in Pelican Rapids that sells gifts, sewing supplies, knitting supplies, craft supplies, clothing, repurposed furniture, antiques, jewelry, books by local authors, Asian foods, local honey, beef, eggs, jams, and work by local artists.

The Mercantile is a partnership. Each of the twelve partners produces or buys whatever she sells. They take turns working in the shop and filling all the administrative responsibilities.

When COVID-19 arrived, Mercantile closed for over two months in the early summer and when they reopened, they were understaffed because some of the partners had health issues which exacerbated their COVID-19 risk. 

“We invested in masks for customers, sanitizer and plexiglass shields to enable us to remain open safely. The Mercantile makes most of its sales during the summer to tourists, but remains open year round to serve the local population. The summer income helped pay the bills from October through April. This last summer, our income was way down.”

“The Otter Tail County people in charge of the grants were very helpful and went out of their way to make sure that as many organizations as possible were aware of the opportunities. They followed up with organizations they were concerned about. The grant turn around time was short and the check came promptly after we submitted our Agreement.”

“Thank you so much for making this possibility available to the small businesses in small towns in Otter Tail County. It really made a huge difference” commented Joan Ellison, a shepherd and wool artist—and also a partner at Mercantile on Main.