Chickadee’s Mercantile offers unique inventory in a place with a nostalgic 1970s vibe!
“People say, ‘This store brings me back to my youth.’ And they always leave the store with a smile. Many folks say they leave simply feeling happy and inspired,” said Stephanie Martin, owner of Chickadee’s Mercantile.
Stephanie carefully vets each vendor that is stocked in the store and strives to include works from local artisans to make the shopping experience unique. Her dedication to hand-choosing each item in the store based on theme and quality has customers saying things like, “There is nowhere else like this!”
When she was ready to start her entrepreneurial journey, she came to the UW-Green Bay Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for guidance. She worked with David Stauffacher, a consultant with the SBDC. “David was amazing! He helped me every step of the way. He was very patient as he helped me with my financial projections, and he aided me in putting together a business plan that included everything a bank wants to see before lending to a small business owner,” Stephanie said.
The Bank of Luxemburg provided the funding she needed to get started. “Everyone there was so helpful; they feel like family. It was lovely to work with them. I got the sense that they really do care and want to help me succeed,” Stephanie said.
Accomplishments with UW-Green Bay SBDC
- Financial projections
- Business plan
“I purchased the building in Fish Creek in 2020, just before the pandemic shut things down, which meant I was paying mortgage and other bills for two years before I could even open the store. That was a real obstacle. Another hurdle I had to overcome was supply chain issues. Inventory was often simply not available and due to CDC rules, we had to delay opening,” Stephanie said.
However, she stuck with the business, using the extra time to remodel the space a bit. She added a fitting room as well as a wall for clothing racks and an accent wall behind the register. She customized the space with new paint and signage, and she kept her hope alive. She finally opened in May 2022.
“I just had to believe that everything would be okay, that people truly value something different and rare in gifts to give,” Stephanie said. “And they do! Chickadee’s Mercantile has become a retail destination. Customers refer lots of friends, some Green Bay residents make a day trip to the store every two weeks and fellow shop owners have given me a very warm welcome.”
Seeing customers leave happy, whether they purchase something or not, is Stephanie’s favorite part of the job. “It’s fun getting to know my clients. I talk to them, relate to them. I feel like I am making new friends every day,” she said. “Making this happen is so empowering! I am excited to grow and perfect the business every day.”
For now, Stephanie is running the shop on her own, but she hopes to hire staff to help in the future. “An e-commerce platform is also part of my future goals. I would love to have online shopping available for travelers and others who just don’t have time to stop, but I want to be sure it feels like an extension of the store. I want online shoppers to experience the same unique 70’s vibe that they get in the store,” she said.
Stay tuned for new things happening at Chickadee’s Mercantile! Feel free to check out the A Door County Minute featuring Stephanie and her one-of-a-kind shop.