Father-Son Duo Create Unique Gathering Space With Home Decor Showroom & Café
Writer / Jon Shoulders
When Nick Roudebush and his father JR decided to open Mercantile 37, an establishment that is part showroom, part work studio and part café and market, they embarked on what has turned out to be a truly local endeavor – on several levels.
Firstly, the showroom includes locally-made items crafted by Nick himself, who operates a separate home decor business called EM Meld Co. that blends ceramics, steel, wood and wax materials, as well as industrial lighting products made by JR’s company Upscale Industrial.
Secondly, the Roudebush family has strong ties to the greater Noblesville area – Nick’s grandfather grew up here, ran a small grocery in town and served as county commissioner.
“He ran a store called 10th Street Grocery, and anybody with Noblesville ties knew about that grocery as a place where the community gathered and caught up with each other,” says Nick, who grew up in Cicero and studied art at Wabash College before obtaining a master’s degree in ceramics at Notre Dame. “It was kind of a community hub.”
Adding to the local charm of the establishment, the Mercantile 37 building itself, previously occupied by Wheeler’s Restaurant, has a connection to Nick’s family – his wife Emma’s great-uncle built the structure in 1940, and her grandfather oversaw management of the building for several years.
Inspiration for the Mercantile 37 concept started when Nick began taking notice of the then-vacant building during his daily commute, eventually suggesting to JR the idea of opening a shop that would offer the duo’s various custom home decor products.
“Dad spent 30 years in corporate food sales and had been interested in opening up a new shop in his retirement, for his industrial lighting business,” Nick says. “I was working on my wife’s family farm and around that same time, I had decided I wanted to make things for a living instead. Soon we were talking about making the building into a showroom and adding a shop in the back.”
Those visiting Mercantile 37, located in Atlanta about 12 miles outside of Noblesville, can expect a singular experience – showroom browsers can sit for a while in Wheeler’s Café and Market (named in honor of the building’s previous occupant), which offers coffee sourced from Cicero-based Dark Side Roasters and a rotating breakfast and lunch menu featuring ingredients from local growers like Full Hand Farm, which sits less than half a mile from the establishment.
“On our market shelves we’ll have some of the things on the café menu, so you might be able to order a sandwich that has a vegetable on it from Full Hand Farm or bacon jam from another local vendor and then be able to purchase those items individually from our market if you like them,” says Nick, who teaches ceramics at Indiana Wesleyan University.
The showroom itself will feature products from 15 to 20 local artisans in addition to items handmade by the Roudebushs.
“We make anything from lighting to countertops to candles, and then we’re also opening the showroom up to high-tier woodworkers, textile artisans and metalworkers in the area, trying to fill all the different facets of home decor,” Nick says. “Everything is customizable too so if you see a table you like but you want it two feet longer, we want to be able to make that happen.”
Nick and JR singlehandedly undertook the vast majority of renovations to the building, which sat vacant since 2000, including a complete interior overhaul and an addition at the back of the structure where the cafe sits.
“We left the outside of the building pretty much original, and tried to play off of that,” Nick says. “We also exposed the original 1940s concrete flooring inside. If you look at what we added and then look at the existing building, it’s a blend of vintage and modern, which is what our products are.”
Nick and JR hope their new facility will eventually serve as a destination space for locals interested in socializing, enjoying quality food and supporting local products at the same time.
“The thing about Wheeler’s years ago was farmers would come in, sit and tell stories and have breakfast, similar to my grandpa’s grocery store,” he says. “We want to build up something like that here – a local hub. We’re kind of in the middle of nowhere but there’s still a community here, and we want to do what we can to support that.”
Mercantile 37 is located at 25625 State Road 37 North in Atlanta, Indiana. Call 317-431-0480 or visit mercantile37.com for more info.