Couple sees future in locally made crafts

PARKERSBURG – The drive to create new and interesting items for the home is what inspired a local couple to open a business on Seventh Street.

East Side Mercantile opened at 1911 E. Seventh St. in Parkersburg Sept. 14 in the little shopping center next to Shepherds Auto Service.

The business features home decor, gifts and florals, including country furniture, rugs, window treatments and table decor.

The owners, Don and Marie Weekley, come from families with strong ties to local artisans. Their parents did a lot of woodcarving, bronzework, basket making, pottery, carpentry and other disciplines as well as promoted local crafts around the state.

Their families have been regular participants in the Harvest Moon Festival at City Park, which features the work of local crafts people.

”We come from families of artists, and I think it stays in the blood,” Marie said. ”I don’t think you can ever get it out of you.”

Being able to open their own place has been something the couple has been considering for awhile, said Don, who recently retired from the Bureau of Public Debt. Marie is planning to retire from Gennari at the end of this year and devote her energies full-time to the shop.

”I am not sure what prompted us to want to open a business,” Don said. ”It is just something we wanted to do for a long time.”

The couple had started a small business in their home in 2008, but it was difficult to get people to come to a residential area that was not in a high-traffic area.

They were able to get the location on Seventh Street that used to be a tobacco shop and have spent over a month getting it ready. They had a special preview event for many people

In addition to their own stuff, they are offering furniture from a builder in Morgantown who used to live in the Parkersburg area, as well as a variety of items they were able to get due to Marie’s experience as a wholesale representative. Marie also makes a lot of the florals and arrangements.

”We thought this would be a great idea for people to be able to come and get local crafts,” Marie said. ”There are not a lot of local crafts here right now, because we have to get our name out there so they will be able to come to us.

”I would be glad to meet with any artist that would like to display their work in our shop. There is nothing like local crafts.”

Being involved regularly in the Harvest Moon Festival every year, they have encountered a lot of talented artisans.

”You meet a lot of wonderful crafts people there,” Marie said.

There is a drive and determination among craft people to create.

”It is a lot of work for me,” Marie said. ”People ask why don’t I quit. I tell them because I can’t.

”It is something that gets in your blood and you just never lose it.”

”We are trying to get our name out so we can compete with the other shops in the area,” Marie said. ”Until we get the word out, I think our customer relations is really what is going to benefit us.”

Primitive shops are very popular right now and they are able to offer a wide variety of products, Don said, adding they have incorporated a lot of the country style as well.

”The people who have been in said they liked what they see and said they will be back,” he said. ”We have had nothing but positive comments from the people who have been in.”

Marie said it is good to be able to be able to offer things at a reasonable price for so many.

The shop will host an open house event Oct. 24-25-26. The shop is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.