Mercantile 22 owners Ross Cameron and Lisa Tizzoni (above) encourage patrons to keep stopping in to their shop on Tioga Street in Tunkhannock for an ever-evolving product line and other surprises.
Photos and story by Rick Hiduk
(Also published in Living Susquehanna-Wyoming County Magazine)
Numerous antiques and novelty shops have opened in downtown Tunkhannock through the years, and the owners of the new Mercantile 22 believe they have the recipe for long-lasting success – a 50/50 blend of antiques and newer items that are artfully arranged in their shop at 22 East Tioga Street that opened in November 2018.
Owners Lisa Tizzoni and Ross Cameron consider the combination to be couple-friendly and attractive to browsers who want to see a little bit of everything. In addition to popular items that have sold well in the past, Tizzoni and Cameron have also infused a few of their own passions into the mix.
Cameron previously managed an antique store adjacent to the current shop called Camelot. He and Tizzoni met at Corky’s Garden Path, where Lisa continued to work through October of last year, and struck up a friendship that would lead to their business partnership. Tizzoni’s mother, Frances Lewis once ran an antique shop, and Cameron’s grandparents, Jerry and Billie Ross, were life-time collectors.
Jerry amassed an impressive collection of memorabilia from the two world wars, and Billie had a booth in a local antique shop where she specialized in glassware, vintage clothing and advertising pieces. Cameron’s grandparents loved to travel and would bring home antiques from different places rather than souvenirs.
At first, Tozzoni and Cameron simply running an antique shop together made perfect sense, but antiquing is a hobby that doesn’t resonate with everybody. In August of 2018, they added a few health and beauty products like soaps and lotions. Designer stationary and country-style gifts like tin ware followed. The subtle shifts in items available for purchase were an instant hit.
“People looked longer and would pick things up to check them out,” Tizzoni noticed. Also, friends who were more or less “along for the ride” found that there was now more to see in the shop and started purchasing items for gifts that had a broader appeal.
When the new location became available, the managers saw boundless potential, in part because all three floors of the hundred-year old structure were included in the lease. Over the course of several months, while keeping Camelot open, Cameron, Tizzoni and their friends stripped the interior of a former bridal shop down to the brick walls and wooden floors. Though there efforts exposed decades-old alterations and quick fixes that needed to be remedied, bringing most of the interior back to its bare bones also created an old-fashioned look that would have been difficult to create anew.
As the two imagined moving the larger variety of stock that they were building up in storage to the new location, the appearance they envisioned was more of that of a general store than the previous location. Hence the choice of the word Mercantile to describe their new direction and the addition of “22” for it’s physical address.
Additionally, many of the newer items, like the tin ware and craft items, have a distressed look that allows them to blend in with the antiques that are scattered throughout the store. Other items have a classic or primitive appeal. There are certainly displays throughout the shop that focus on specific categories, but a keen sense of decorating shared by Tizzoni and Cameron ensures that the older items fit seamlessly with the new stock.
In the expansive yarn section, for example, and antique wool carder can be found among the colorful fiber spun by Tizzoni and her friend, Linda Mesavage. “The yarn has really caught on,” Tizzoni related. “But there are a still a lot of people who don’t know that we are an outlet for yarn.”
A spinning wheel sits nearby, and Tizzoni plans to offer demonstrations. She raises angora rabbits and integrates their fur into some of the yarn to enhance variety. When you wash items that include the angora fur, she explained, “They fluff up.”
Hiking and backpacking is one of Cameron’s passions, so naturally there is a section of the store devoted to both, again with a mixture of classic camping supplies and new line of backpacks and outdoor clothing. The backpacks are geared for minimalist adventures, room for just what you absolutely need for a couple of days.
“A lot of the outdoor stuff is dual purpose,” Cameron noted. “The high-end enamel ware is nice for the house too.”
Other featured items include candles, baskets, offerings from the Loose Leaf Tea Company, and a variety of honey from Miller Family Apiaries in Ulster, Bradford County. Future plans include knitting classes and rental of kayaks, tubes, and paddle boards. Tizzoni and Cameron are currently only utilizing 2,500 square feet of the 7,500 available to them. In other words, things are always looking up for the inspired duo.
“Stay tuned for more great stuff,” Tizzoni promises. Readers can follow the store on Facebook, where new spring and summer hours will soon be posted.