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Lily's Mercantile and Makery Hangs an 'Open for Business' Sign in Paoli

A mother and daughter team open a unique vintage mercantile with a southern flare in Paoli along the banks of the Sugar River


July 4, 2019

Marian Viney

Lily's Mercantile and Makery opened its doors on June 15th in the creamery building in Paoli.

"I'm the mercantile and Lily is the makery," said Teresa McMahan, the mother member of the team. "We are learning so much along the way."

Lily's Mercantile and Makery opened its doors on June 15 in the creamery building in what was a former art gallery across the street from the Paoli Schoolhouse Shops and Café. During the summer, a couple of other businesses will open in the adjoining spaces.

"The stars aligned and the mercantile fits us well," added Teresa. "We feature unique home décor, Lily's artwork, vintage accessories, jewelry, clothing, gifts, and more."

Defining her artwork and different techniques while in high school, Lily hand letters and paints signs that are then framed by her dad, Cory.

"I have been interested in art my entire life but when I was about 7 years old, my mom's artist friend Julie Sutter Blair introduced me to what art truly is," explained Lily. "Never did I think that one day I'd actually sell my artwork in my own store. Since opening Lily's Mercantile and Makery, I watch customers buy my artwork, and it feels wonderful knowing that my work will be enjoyed in someone's home. I couldn't be happier doing what I love to do."

"Lily also accepts custom orders," said Teresa. "If you have a favorite quote or verse of a song that you want made into a sign, just let one of us know. She also has a passion for horses and loves to paint them."

She also paints other barnyard critters that have been very popular with customers.

Prior to opening, Teresa, Lily and Cory traveled to Texas to purchase items for the mercantile. They went to Round Top, one of the largest antique shows in the nation.

"Round Top did not disappoint," said Teresa. "We took a trailer and purchased furniture, bread boards, dough bowls, and lots of vintage accessories."

No trip to Texas is complete without a couple of longhorn skulls.

"Lily put her artistic touch on one and it became our logo," said Teresa proudly.

While in Texas, they also traveled to the Magnolia Market to find other unique items for the mercantile.

"We found lots of ideas on how we wanted the mercantile to look and feel," added Teresa. "Both of us love the mix of vintage and new pieces in our business and in our home."

The mother daughter team also plans on attending local flea markets and incorporating local items into the mercantile.

This last weekend, Teresa traveled to the Elkhorn Antique Flea Market with more than 500 dealers and brought back a trailer full of furniture and other treasures for the mercantile.

"I love the hunt of finding unique pieces for the home and we both love putting it all together," said Teresa. "I feel very blessed to be able to work with my daughter. We really complement each other."

A year ago, Lily graduated from Belleville High School and wasn't exactly sure what she wanted to do. During heart-to-heart-talks with her mom they confided that each had dreamed about owning a business someday. One involved selling artwork, the other selling vintage and new home décor.

"We both have similar taste in a lot of things," said Teresa and Lily at the same time.

Lily decided to attend Madison College's Entrepreneurship Certificate program.

"The program focuses on the creation of marketing and financial plans for small business ventures, small business operation and customer service," said Lily. "Taking the small business entrepreneurship program was the best decision for me. I learned so much more than I could have imagined. I learned about the behind the scene things that need to be done to make a small business possible. I also learned a lot from my classmates. I had classes with people of different ages, and it was a fun process hearing everyone's stories and about the businesses they were dreaming about."

She finished her classes in May and Lily's Mercantile and Makery opened in June.

"Literally, putting us to the test," laughed Teresa.

Lily added that there is no one she would rather be starting a business with than her mom.

"My parents are terrific role models and they know a lot about building successful businesses," said Lily. "They've taught me a lot."

Other family members have joined in the fun, including Lily's two brothers, Tucker and Jackson.

Tucker helped with displays and offers moral support and Jackson used his welding talents and designed some card holders and hooks out of horseshoes and helps move furniture.

"I'm not sure what we would do without all of our family's help!" said Teresa.

Because the interior walls are covered in tiles, Cory used barn wood from a 100-year-old barn to craft wood walls so items could be displayed. He also crafted the counter for the mercantile and several other display pieces.

Cory also is using his mechanic skills to encourage and coax a 1951 Chevy pickup to run in time for the grand opening next week.

Purchased locally, the plan is to put the logo on the doors of the pickup and drive it back and forth to Paoli to advertise.

"We also want to decorate it for holidays so people can take holiday card photos by the pickup," added Teresa.

Even though Lily's Mercantile and Makery has been open for a few short weeks, Lily and Teresa are so happy that they took a leap of faith.

"We are so thankful for our family and friends who have supported us," said Teresa. "Our dream is that this business provides Lily with great on-the-job training and a great education. During a few short weeks, it's surpassed our expectations."

Lily's Mercantile and Makery is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Hours on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; and Sundays, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


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