Made Mercantile Brings Art and Craft Diversity to Cherokee County
Walk into Made Mercantile on Main Street in Woodstock, and you step into a world of creative liberty. Warm greetings and a cozy, eclectic feel welcome you. Art of various media fills every nook and cranny along the walls, tables, and even the floors. Peek past the shop space, and you’ll see local artists creating new pieces at large worktables.
A Place to Create
Made Mercantile is a distinctive gem. The brick-and-mortar structure hosts many local artists and represents a steppingstone for small businesses and creative start-ups. Art businesses often begin as home-based endeavors, but Made Mercantile gives artistic entrepreneurs a place to create, experiment, and thrive. Through a membership program, the collaborative coworking space offers makers a workspace, access to the retail shop, and educational and promotional opportunities.
Madison Beaulieu, operations manager for Made Mercantile, explains, “There is a great maker community in Woodstock, but [makers] were struggling to find places to test products and get real-time feedback from customers. Pop-up shops are amazing, but they can get you only so far. We needed a community workspace, retail space to test products, and space to host classes, events, and meetings.”
Madison is a maker herself, creator and founder of Beau Paper Co. A longtime supporter of fellow creatives, she has also been coordinating the Maker’s Mash events at Reformation Brewery since 2017. The Maker’s Mash series features local artisans in a curated pop-up shop setting. Through those experiences she saw the need for a space like Made Mercantile and dreamed for it to come to life.
After Madison brought her idea to the city of Woodstock in 2018, Director of Economic Development Brian Stockton reached out to her with plans to renovate a vacant space on Main Street to create Made Mercantile. By October 2020, Made Mercantile was ready to open for members. A month later the doors opened for customers to shop individually-curated items made right there.
“This space is for future mom-and-pop shops—makers looking to scale their production and transition to full-time in their business,” says Madison.
Made Mercantile has since flourished and continues to stick to the mission of helping local businesses grow in the community through a collaborative environment. It offers a membership program for future mom-and-pop shops and a storefront where customers can purchase items that help the businesses grow. It also offers classes and workshops to locals who want to learn new trades.
Brian explains, “The program, like any coworking-type space, provides business owners who want to test the market or are looking to grow their existing business an easy entry location to a retail market. Our hope is that once they finish the program, they move into their own retail or manufacturing space in Woodstock, which creates a win-win for all parties and furthers one of our city council’s main goals of attracting businesses to our city.” The program is unique to the city of Woodstock and has helped a number of makers turn their passions into thriving businesses.
Made Mercantile has been pivotal for members like Sylvia Smith, maker behind Sylvia Draws. Sylvia has been a member with Made Mercantile since July, and already the experience has exceeded her expectations. She joined because she longed for a creative community and wanted a place to take her creations to the next level. “I love that I can go into Made Mercantile and be surrounded by other makers doing what they love. Made Mercantile is the perfect platform for creatives like me to network, learn, and gain exposure to a wider audience. The ability to create a new item and test it immediately in-store is unparalleled. There is almost always someone around the workspace to ask for feedback and critique or to be a model for a jewelry photoshoot—true story!” she exclaims with a light laugh. “It is also inspiring to see what the other makers are creating and share our knowledge and experiences with each other. The studio is always buzzing with exciting creative vibes, and it makes me energized to push myself and my work.”
You can find Sylvia’s work in the retail space of Made Mercantile featuring bright-colored laser-cut jewelry, enamel pins, art prints, and stickers.
Art and Soul
Local creators make Cherokee a lively community. Sylvia explains, “The arts are an important aspect to any vibrant community, and it is wonderful to see that the city of Woodstock recognizes the importance of fostering the arts.” The city’s support makes Sylvia and other artists proud to call Woodstock home.
Madison adds, “Art shows the real heart and soul of a community. There’s nothing like lighting a candle and knowing who made it and where. There is something very satisfying about purchasing art and feeling like your community is represented. Local makers are one way a community can find its identity and stay true through growth.”
Community residents can foster the diverse makerspace and show support by swinging by the retail space to shop all the new creations. The majority of the shop is filled with local handmade goods that are made on-site.
Another way to show support for the local makers is to participate in a class or workshop at Made Mercantile. The makers offer a variety of classes that include such things as make-your-own-makeup, printmaking, and making soap, candles, and jewelry. More classes will be announced soon. In August the shop introduced a new workshop series called Maker Bar offered on the second Saturday of each month. During the event attendees work with a local maker to complete a project in thirty minutes or less with several projects to choose from. Stop in to make a new lip gloss, sew a coaster, or even pour a candle.
Living the Dream
Madison has watched her vision grow into something living and breathing. Reflecting on how far Made Mercantile has come, Madison says, “This is a dream come true, and I sometimes wonder how all this happened. I love to see the collaboration among our members. I love to see our members exploring their businesses and finding ways to solve problems. I love our regulars coming in to say, ‘Hey,’ and I love showing new customers around the shop. It means a lot to see this space full and thriving. It’s an honor to be a part of it.”
With sixteen current members and a waitlist for new members, expansion plans are under consideration. For programs like Made Mercantile to thrive, though, community support is essential. The artisans and crew at Made Mercantile have been blown away by the community’s support over the last two years.
With the holidays fast approaching, now is the time to remember to #ShopCherokee. Visit Made Mercantile to find gifts while supporting local artists. Each piece of art is as unique as the person who created it and the space it resides in.
Follow Made Mercantile on Facebook or Instagram (@MadeMercantileWDSTK) to stay in the know about upcoming classes as well as new members and products. Made Mercantile is located at 8636 Main Street in Woodstock.
Made Mercantile Members
April Rain Art
Beau Paper Co.
Blue Elixir Press
Cherokee Rose Candle Co.
Dirty Beauty Natural Skincare
Dots and Spots Co.
Harper & Will
Lost Roots Leather Co.
Moments with B.
The Octopus & The Jackalope
Woodstock Candle Co.
Cherokee County native Meghan Lindstrom has a passion for storytelling and her community. She studied journalism at Georgia College and now utilizes her skills to help write the narrative that is Cherokee County. In her free time, you can find Meghan spending time outdoors, reading in local coffee shops, or visiting farmers markets.