Local Talent: Co-op for Local Artists

Fondly called ‘The Merc’ by co-op members, is a place of “arts for the community and a community for the arts.” 

Four years ago, a group of five local artists had a vision to create an artists’ cooperative for Deer Park, Elk, Chattaroy, and surrounding areas. That dream  came to fruition with the Bear Creek Mercantile, located on Hwy 2 just south of Riverside schools. 

“The short story is we’re a group of people in the community who are all pretty quality artists who were looking for something to do in the community and locally,” said Mary Lee Rozelle, one of the five original founders. “We have some amazing artists. Everybody is really local.”

Bear Creek Mercantile’s retail center boasts quality workmanship from soaps to jewelry, to paper mache’, pottery, paintings, and more. It is also a space to purchase USDA certified pork, baby chicks, garden starts, and animal feed.

“We want to make things affordable for the people who purchase, and introduce high quality, hand-crafted art,” Rozelle said. 

 The Merc’s cheerful red facade and cozy indoor space is more than a store, it’s a community and a gathering place, Rozelle explained. Bear Creek Mercantile has a book club, a knitting group, offers guitar lessons, and various classes for both adults and youth. Summertime sees kids’ art classes, and Rozelle said they will begin in July, with proper social distancing protocols in place. 

“It is truly like a family,” Rozelle said. “It’s really become a great social opportunity.”  

The Mercantile is a cooperative and thus, the co-op members do not accept art on consignment. They do, however, encourage local artists to come and sell their wares at the mercantile’s Saturday Market. There is a $10 weekly vendor fee. 

“There are people in the community who make things and have products they’d like to market, so the Saturday Market goal was a local opportunity to market (wares) inexpensively,” Rozelle explained. 

Saturday market sellers can be artists or gardeners with extra starts. 

In addition to the usual Saturday markets, there will be a special small animal market July 18th from 10am-2pm where vendors can sell small farm animals. 

Bear Creek Mercantile membership is mostly closed, Rozelle said due to spacing limitations, but the membership is actively looking for a member who creates garden art.

For more information, check out the Bear Creek Mercantile page on Facebook, or website: www.bearcreekmercantile.com or call Mary Lee Rozelle at (509) 299 0205

Artisans and creators have exceptional talents and abilities that often get overlooked or under-praised. If you or someone you know has an ability that you think should be highlighted, write the editor at [email protected] or Editor Deer Park Gazette, PO Box 1581, Deer Park, WA 99006.

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