By Susan E. Campbell
The owner of Old Saratoga Mercantile, 1120 Route 29 in Schuylerville, left a job in journalism and now sells naturally grown produce and other natural goods that come to her from farms in the area.
Old Saratoga Mercantile gives vendors in the region, some of whom previously sold only out of their homes, a place to sell their wares seven days a week.
Christina Myers had been a journalist doing stories on local government and the political scene for 15 years. But going into business and starting a store was not, she said, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
Actually, Myers and her then-fiancé purchased the vacant five-acre plot to build a home and wanted enough land to farm much of their own food. The idea to tear down a brick structure—an antique store up until the early 2000s—and to turn an outdated barn on the property into an old-time shop sprouted soon enough.
She visited dozens of farms and producers, sampling their products, talking to the owners and customers, and doing all the fact-checking so her customers wouldn’t have to scrutinize every label to ensure the product was responsibly made.
“I want to know exactly where my food comes from. Was it grown with the same practices I would use? Or is a giant commercial operation profiting from sprays and unnatural processes?” she said. “It’s so important to know your roots, which is more than a tag line for me. It’s the driving force for Old Saratoga Mercantile.”
The store carries honey, maple syrup, cheese, meat and vegetables, as well as non-food items such as hats and mittens, soaps, candles and cleansers, from about 35 different local farmers and producers.
Upon entering the store, Myers said she wants customers to feel like they are stepping into the 1800s.
One local jewelry maker wanted Myers to put some of her pieces on the shelves, but she didn’t think the items made a good match.
“A shiny tiara doesn’t go with my old-style store. The vendor came back with jewelry made from materials like flowers and feathers, styled perfectly with our agricultural theme in mind,” said Myers.
She said she has had to say “no, thank you” to vendors who use dyes in their products or follow “questionable practices.”
Some products she stocks are her own. She bottles vinegar-citrus cleaning solutions and specialty food items, like pickled patty pan squash.
Her husband is growing garlic, mushrooms and has a number of autumn plantings to bring to market in the spring. There are recipe cards in the store and customers can buy small packages of whatever locally grown herbs and spices the recipes call for.
Myers said she is grateful to the SCORE mentors who she met with twice a month to learn budgeting, projecting inventory, and other business skills.
Business hours are weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.