Shopping options in downtown North Haven have expanded, thanks to two creative entrepreneurs. The North Haven Mercantile, a showcase for island-made goods, has opened its doors.
The brainchild of Carrie Brezzo, the designer behind Able Jane Clothing (formerly CarrieSewFancy), and Laura Serino, a writer and the owner of Island Apothecary, the Mercantile inhabits the space most recently occupied by Fox i Printworks. In the more distant past, it was home to a market.
Serino and Brezzo both had inklings of opening a store in the space, which is part of J.O Brown’s boatyard, and a conversation at a CarrieSewFancy pop-up event led to the two deciding to join forces.
Things moved quickly after that.
“It was in disrepair,” said Brezzo, whose carpentry day job gave her the skills to do the repairs. “I had to replace some flooring, I had to do a lot of work to the plaster walls because they were crumbling and cracking. Kim [the boatyard’s manager] put plywood in the front room over the disintegrating plaster walls to help us hang art and stuff.”
Brezzo and Serino also painted the walls, floor, and trim, covering ink and solvent from the printshop, and repurposed some printshop and market items, such as counters. The finished look is clean and bright, with slate-grey floors, white walls, and a new emphasis on the pressed-tin ceiling.
As of Memorial Day weekend, when the Mercantile opened, 26 vendors, all island-based, had their wares on display. North Haven, Vinalhaven, Monhegan, Islesboro, and Peaks are all represented, with goods from knitwear to fine art photography to wooden cajon drums lining the walls and covering the tables.
“I love Kathy Macy’s animal hats, they’re so beautiful,” Brezzo enthused. “I love Josie Gates’ new embroideries, I love everything. Alicia Brown’s dolls, everything Cider Hill Farm does, these drums are just amazing.”
A rack of Able Jane clothing and an array of Island Apothecary skincare products are also in the mix.
“We’re hearing about new people every day,” Brezzo said. “We’re talking about ordering from three new vendors next week.”
Brezzo attributes the outsized creativity of islanders to the peaceful isolation of island life.
“Because a lot of art is a very introverted, an isolated adventure,” she explained. “I am mostly alone when I’m making my art. The island is such a marvelous place for that,” she said.
North Haven Mercantile is also home to Brezzo’s sewing studio, where she will be creating new clothing designs after hours and on the weekends, and will soon host The Hairringbone, sixth-generation cosmetologist Meg Nevells’ hair salon.
“We’re exposing visitors or seasonal residents to the artists on the islands, and trying to support handmade artisans,” Brezzo said. “You can find so many things in the store. Instead of buying a gift on Amazon you can come in and get a gift for any occasion. I like how the store appeals to people of all incomes, all ages; you can come in here and spend a dollar on a sticker or you can spend a grand on a painting, and so many options in between that.”
North Haven Mercantile is open Tuesda –Saturday, 10-6, and Sunday 12-5, from July to September. In October through Columbus Day, the store will be open Friday and Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 12-5. Visit the website at northhavenmercantile.com, or follow on Facebook or Instagram.