A Jacksonville business owner is making it easier to shop local this holiday season. Emily Moody-Rosete, who operates the downtown Wolf & Cub boutique on Laura Street, is bringing a pop-up storefront to the space formerly occupied by La Cena restaurant. Located at 211 North Laura Street, Duval Mercantile will grace the historic Elks Building.
Duval Mercantile will celebrate its grand opening November 7th during Artwalk and will remain open through the month of December. As the former owner the live music venue Underbelly in the downtown core and Anomaly in the Five Points neighborhood, Emily Moody-Rosete knows how to create a buzz. She’s hoping to energize Downtown with a concept that will bring together artists and makers in a shared space and inspire shoppers to curate an interesting and eclectic list of locally produced goods this holiday season.
Vendors like Congaree and Penn and Jax Brothel will be among those to stock such items as local gourmet foods and sundries, candles, pottery, and vegan bath products. There are no plans to update the interior space with a major build out save for adding a couple coolers to refrigerate necessary items. “Because its a pop-up, we didn’t want to spend a ton of money making it real pretty,” she says. “It’s going to compliment Wolf & Cub but still have its own vibe, too.”
While the concept is designed to give local makers a dedicated space to showcase and sell their goods, Moody-Rosete is also hoping to increase Downtown’s accessibility to retailers in an area plagued by more empty storefronts than established businesses.
“Being Downtown now for a few years, I hear on a daily basis from clients coming in and people traveling through, tours actually coming through to visit the city. It’s embarrassing to hardly have any retail Downtown, so people walk in my shop and ask what else is there to do down here, and I give them a little run down. There’s lots of places to eat and drink, but there’s not a lot of retail,” says Emily Moody-Rosete.
“That’s unfortunate, but the city doesn’t really encourage the nurturing of small business. They’re more into the multi-million dollar projects, which I get too, but, at the end of the day, the small guys are the ones who are creating the culture and the feel for a district.”
“That’s unfortunate, but the city doesn’t really encourage the nurturing of small business. They’re more into the multi-million dollar projects, which I get too, but, at the end of the day, the small guys are the ones who are creating the culture and the feel for a district. That’s what I seek out. When I travel, I go to all the cool little local businesses, and that’s how I get the feel for a city. That’s where Duval Mercantile comes in.”
Emily and Varick Rosete based the model for Duval Mercantile on their early experiences with Wolf & Cub, which they initially operated at such venues as Jaxsons Night Market and Artwalk. The couple expanded the business and opened a pop-up shop in Riverside’s Brooklyn Station during the 2015 holiday season. The success of that venture led to a permanent storefront the following year. If Duval Mercantile does well, it could become a regular fixture and establish a business model to encourage more retailers to follow suit.
“We’re just trying to make it work for a few months. If it sticks, then we’ll visit maybe signing a lease there, maybe finding a different spot. Who knows. We’re just taking it day by day for now,” she says, “I’m an optimist so I hope that it is possible. Is it possible in a time frame that I feel is reasonable? Maybe not necessarily. That’s why we just kind of took things into our own hands. We don’t have time to wait around for the city to recognize us. We just have to make it happen. Hopefully it’s that ‘if you build it, they will come’ kind of thing.”