Squire’s Street Mercantile offers gifts at great prices
By BETH ALTENA
“I don’t have any problem buying things,” explained Kimberly Smith of the large variety of fun and unique items offered for sale in her new shop, Squire’s Street Mercantile, what she describes as an “old fashioned variety store and gift shop.” When a former tenant moved out, Kimberly, who owns the building, saw an opportunity to do more of what she does best—play store.
“I had a blast buying something new,” Smith said. She noted that her vision is for the store’s inventory to change all the time—the reason behind the name novelty store. She wanted lots of different types of items and all at reasonable to low prices. Her theory is visible at a walk-thru, the different areas of the shop are almost like a mini-mini department store where the departments are a step and a turn away rather than on different floors.
Immediately upon entrance to the storefront, located behind Kimberly’s back door and facing Squires Street, shoppers can turn to the right and see the register and a display of wine-related items. From cork decanters, chill bags, wine holders, openers, and more. “I thought this would be a good fit with the new winery in town,” Smith noted.
Rockford resident Sandra Crane was happy to display one of the cork decanters, similar to one she was given as a “bread and butter present,” which she described as the term a dinner guest brings for the host or hostess. “I just love it, it’s something cute and fun. People used to throw away their wine corks but now it’s nice to display them.”
To the left is a wall of magnetic displays by a local artist. The Embellish magnets can be used for all sorts of displays, to accent photographs, collages, for displaying student school work, or for gifts for baby, kids, weddings and any number of uses. Kimberly believes this line alone—intensely popular and versatile—will be a big draw for the new store.
Everywhere else throughout find items that are attractive, cute, practical, whimsical, inspirational, fun and all pretty affordable. A wall of socks are just three pairs for five dollars and come with every conceivable design. “We have toe socks, no toe socks, serious socks, funky socks, white socks, all colors of socks, fun socks, women’s socks, kids’ socks,” Kimberly laughed. She said she bought one thousand dozen—so many they had to be delivered in a semi-truck.
There is also a line of Rockford t-shirts, collegiate t-shirts, sweatshirts, a kids corner, gift cards, inspirational items with scripture verses, “That’s All” funny cards for all occasions (including “I’m pregnant …that’s all”), kitchen items, decorations and housewares. “I had a blast buying all these different things,” described Smith. She said she went on buying trips in Vegas and Atlanta with Barb Stein, owner of Great Northern Trading Company, and she said Stein just shook her head and smiled at Kim’s enthusiastic purchasing.
Squire’s Street Mercantile, 54 South Squires Street, opened the first weekend of Harvest Festival on Friday, October 5, and is open seven days a week. Crane noted that she just loved looking over all the items and spent more than she intended, but was taking home a ton. “I was shopping for Christmas gifts,” she said. A long time fan of Kimberly’s, Crane said the boutique is the first place she brings friends from out of town. Now she has another favorite place to linger.
Smith, who has successfully run her Kimberly’s Boutique for 20 years as of this past June, believes her second store will be popular too, although very different from the boutique. “I wanted to do something that Rockford doesn’t already have, and we didn’t have anything like this,” she said. “I wanted a place where people would be able to send the kids in to shop for grandmom and grandpa and mom and dad.”
Crane said she is excited by her friend’s new endeavor and looks forward to many happy visits, both to Squire’s Street Mercantile and to downtown Rockford itself. “I never come into this town without saying, ‘Thank you, Jesus, we are so lucky to live here. It is so beautiful every time of the year.”