by Sally Mitani
Nina Juergens closed Acme Mercantile on June 30. Housed in one of W. Liberty's classic brick storefronts, Acme carried a blend of practical items, steam punk, and eco-sustainable clothing. As someone said on Yelp in 2005, "When I find myself wondering where ... a person can get index cards, a beach ball, nylons, a french press, and a tootsie roll, I go to Acme."
Juergens, who also co-owns Salon Vertigo on Fourth Ave. with Pam Craven, opened Acme in 2002. "We had just lost a lot of the useful stores downtown, like Lucky Drugs and Schlenker Hardware," she recalls. "In fact, we hadn't planned on carrying office supplies, but right around the time we opened, Mayer-Schairer [office supply] closed, and I thought 'Oh boy, now we've got to carry office supplies.' Then Wilkinson's Luggage moved out of downtown and we took over some travel supplies." She rounded out the practical merchandise with colorful, frivolous novelties for tourists who hit Main St. for dinner then sweep the stores for souvenirs of their visit. "It's been beneficial to have both," Juergens says. "When there's absolutely no business, people come in to buy a plunger or staples. And when it's busy downtown, we sell a lot of knickknacks and fun things."
She says her decision not to renew the lease came suddenly, over Memorial Day: "It's been so much fun, but I've done nothing but work for the last ten years." And she found she couldn't contemplate selling the business. "It's my baby. I made a real brand." She is about to relaunch her website, acmemercantile.com, and she will also be selling greeting cards, umbrellas, jewelry, and possibly clothing at Salon Vertigo. "My giant overhead of rent and payroll is the only thing going away."
[Originally published in August, 2012.]
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