BEST OF DAYTON: Heart Mercantile gift shop brings humor, compassion to Oregon District

These are the owners of Heart Mercantile, a boutique specialty gift shop in the Oregon District, from left to right: Kait Gilcher, Brittany Smith and Carly Short.

Credit: Heart Mercantile

Combined ShapeCaption
These are the owners of Heart Mercantile, a boutique specialty gift shop in the Oregon District, from left to right: Kait Gilcher, Brittany Smith and Carly Short. CONTRIBUTED.

Credit: Heart Mercantile

Since 2015, Heart Mercantile has provided a bit of levity to the Oregon District. The boutique sells a variety of gifts, clothing, accessories and other one-of-kind items by Daytonians and other small businesses.

Heart Mercantile was opened by Brittany Smith before Kait Gilcher, Carly Short and Amanda Hensler joined as co-owners of the boutique in 2017. Two sister stores of Heart Mercantile, beck + call and Luna Gifts & Botanicals, are also imaginative specialty stores located in the Oregon District.

This year, Heart Mercantile has earned a first-place finish in Best Place for Unique Gifts and second place in Best Place to Buy Dayton Gifts sections in Best of Dayton. In years past, Heart Mercantile has dominated the shopping sections of the Best of Dayton contest, proving that their popularity extends throughout the Miami Valley.

Many have come to love Heart Mercantile for its unique Dayton-centric gear and accessories that truly tell it like it is. The boutique also sells merchandise from Dayton businesses, photographers and artists.

Throughout the past few years, Heart Mercantile has approached some of the most difficult challenges, like Hensler’s battle with breast cancer, the Memorial Day tornadoes in 2019, mass shooting that took place just down the block and the coronavirus pandemic. Similar to other brick-and-mortar boutiques, Heart Mercantile altered their business model to rely mostly on online sales.

Combined ShapeCaption
The storefront of Heart Mercantile, a specialty gift shop located in the Oregon District. CONTRIBUTED.

Credit: Heart Mercantile

The storefront of Heart Mercantile, a specialty gift shop located in the Oregon District.

Credit: Heart Mercantile

Combined ShapeCaption
The storefront of Heart Mercantile, a specialty gift shop located in the Oregon District. CONTRIBUTED.

Credit: Heart Mercantile

Credit: Heart Mercantile

“We were all freaking out because so much was unknown, but we just had to figure it out,” Gilcher and Short said in a combined statement. “We photographed 80% of the store, put it online and let people message us through social media if they saw something we posted. We turned the store into more of a pick-up spot.

“Once we opened back up at minimum capacity, we were lucky that we had customers that would wait outside in a line six feet apart if they wanted to come in and get something. Our customers were all really awesome and were really patient with us and really helped us get through it.”

Combined ShapeCaption
The owners of Heart Mercantile became symbols of Dayton's strength in 2019. They are Kait Gilcher, Amanda Hensler Carly Short and Brittany Smith.

Credit: Submitted

The owners  of Heart Mercantile became symbols of Dayton's strength in 2019. They are  Kait Gilcher,  Amanda Hensler 
 Carly Short and Brittany Smith.

Credit: Submitted

Combined ShapeCaption
The owners of Heart Mercantile became symbols of Dayton's strength in 2019. They are Kait Gilcher, Amanda Hensler Carly Short and Brittany Smith.

Credit: Submitted

Credit: Submitted

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In addition to selling more merchandise online, the owners have used humor and compassion to cope with the many challenges they have faced in the past few years. Apart from promoting their unique goods, the owners use social media to make people laugh, posting memes and other cheeky things to their business and special meme Facebook pages (appropriately called Heart Mementile).

“Especially during the pandemic, a meme is all that would get us through packaging a bunch of t-shirts,” Gilcher and Short said. “We enjoy bringing a little bit of laughter and light-heartedness to hard situations.”

Though they have admitted to being “snarky,” the owners of Heart Mercantile have also made it their mission to give back to their community, donating thousands of dollars to organizations like the YWCA, The House of Bread, the Dayton Foundation and the Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund.

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“It’s also really important to us to give to organizations and post about things that we really care about because we have a platform to do so and it’s important to use it,” Gilcher and Short said.

Be sure to head to Heart Mercantile for unique holiday gifts, like the 2021 dumpster fire ornament, the specialty clothes and even more Dayton and Ohio merchandise.


Heart Mercantile

First Place: Best Place for Unique Gifts

Second Place: Best Place to Buy Dayton gifts

438 E. 5th St., Dayton

937-250-6020

heartmercantile.com

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