We're chatting with a Dayton-based gift store that sells cheeky items aimed to empower women.
Cincy Chic: What is Heart Mercantile?
Amanda Hensler, Co-Owner and Manager of Heart Mercantile: Heart Mercantile is a fun and unique gift shop located in the historic Oregon District in downtown Dayton, Ohio. We feature many offbeat gifts that you can’t find anywhere else. We are known for our Dayton t-shirts, an array of products with adult humor and female empowerment items.
Cincy Chic: What’s the inspiration behind it?
Hensler: Brittany Smith and Carly Barrett opened Heart Mercantile in 2015. Brittany’s son has a heart condition that he has had since birth and that is where the name and logo stem from. At the time, they had a booth at Antiques Village and had collected enough unique vintage items that they decided to open a shop. Avid lovers of Dayton and wanting to bring life back to the downtown area, a space on 5th Street of the Oregon District was the perfect location to open their shop. With their vintage collection, they began adding cards, everyday items that had funny messages on them, soaps, bath bombs, books and more. At one point they had even sold plants. That sparked the idea for a local plant shop, Luna Gifts & Botanicals, in 2016 in the same neighborhood. Heart has evolved from a hodgepodge gift shop to a female powered local business that finds the humor in living. We try to find products that people don’t normally see in bigger retail stores. We love hearing people laugh as they slowly make their way through the shop, reading every last line on our funny desk signs, mugs, soaps, cards and even t-shirts.
Cincy Chic: Who’s behind it?
Hensler: In 2017, Heart Mercantile added two more owners to the pot; Kait Gilcher and Amanda Hensler, who also manage the shop. With four women running the show, Heart Mercantile has been able to blossom into the snarky, bad sister we know her as today. If you follow us on social media and see our daily chalkboard signs, you’ll see what we mean. 😉
Cincy Chic: Where is Heart Mercantile located?
Hensler: Heart Mercantile is located in the historic Oregon District in downtown Dayton, Ohio, at 438 East 5th Street. Along with its two sister stores, Luna Gifts & Botanicals at 261 Wayne Ave. and Hedges & Wolf at 504 East 5th Street (women’s clothing boutique) and many other small local retail shops and restaurants on 5th Street, the Oregon District is a great holiday shopping day trip.
Cincy Chic: What types of products do you carry in store?
Hensler: We carry an array of gifts for everyone in your life that has a sense of humor. We have barware, locally printed and designed t-shirts, mugs, a variety of books, Dayton, Ohio items, some local brands like Whiskey River and Right Candle Company (formerly 419 Candles) and more.
Cincy Chic: What are some of your most popular items?
Hensler: Our Dayton t-shirts, such as our ‘Dayton Till I Die’ tee, funny mugs, socks and soaps are probably our more popular items. We have lots of Female Empowerment items as well. Last year, at Christmas we sold felt vagina ornaments we found from an ESTY vendor that caused quite the controversy. We ended up selling out of them 3 times.
Cincy Chic: What are some of the items you recommend as gifts for the holidays?
Hensler: We have tons of stocking stuffers for all kinds of people. We carry lots of funny sock brands if you want to spice up your boring Christmas sock game. Our celebrity prayer candles and wooden laser cut ornaments and key chains are always hot sellers, as well as our funny coffee mugs and Dayton t-shirts.
Cincy Chic: Is there anything new on the horizon for the store?
Hensler: We hope to get our website updated and running soon so we can expand to an online store with select items. As of now, if customers see something we post on social media that they like, they can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any holds or shipping requests.