After years of Erin’s journal, Make Something Good Today, Ben and Erin opened an online shop called erinandben.co. It acted as an umbrella for Erin’s blog and Lucky Luxe Dry Goods, as well as Ben’s brand Scotsman Co., and other home good items. They wanted to provide a direct source for people to shop things made in America, heirloom wares, and durable goods.
The online business was small and was operated out of their studio apartment. It did very well. After Ben and Erin started filming HGTV’s Home Town, they were stuck with the ongoing thought of whether or not to keep erinandben.co going. One evening, the framily, the word Erin used to describe their close knit inner circle of friends, got together for one of their typical dinners. Except this wasn’t just a typical dinner night. They all left that evening with a new business plan. Jim, Mallorie, Josh, and Emily were hopeful to continue erinandben.co and expand it into something more. They all began dreaming and imagining a storefront in downtown Laurel. As believers and supporters of historic preservation, the group of six best friends were determined to reopen Laurel’s beloved former Mercantile. It would be a place that felt like you were stepping back into 1925. A place were you could shop American-made goods and heirloom wares.
Their dreams began to develop and were implemented. In the summer of 2016, they purchased the old Smith Furniture building on Front Street, right on the edge of the historic district where little foot traffic went. It was left vacant since the early 1990s and needed excessive amounts of work, but they felt called to that building because of its remote location in comparison to the other more popular streets/businesses. They hoped it would help expand the shopping footprint in downtown.
They used their combined expertise in history, design, historic preservation, organizational management, finance and accounting to reopen Laurel’s bygone hometown store, and in December 2016, the new Laurel Mercantile Co. opened its doors.
The reopening of the historic Laurel Mercantile Co. was something that Erin describes as a 100% God-given thing. “It’s the kind of thing that presents itself so clearly between 6 old friends with very different skill sets that compliment the others so well, it could only be by His hand.” It stemmed from many small pieces that were orchestrated together. Looking back, it’s evident to see how He was carving out a path for this business.
Since the opening of the Laurel Mercantile Co., much has changed and developed for our company. We have successfully expanded our business and have a separate location, the Scotsman General Store and Woodshop. Our General Store is an old-tyme ode to the general stores that were scattered across the south decades ago. We sell everything from live bait to perishable goods. Visible from the inside of the General store is Ben’s woodshop, where if you're lucky, you might just spot Ben and his crew there working on some custom projects for HGTV's Home Town! We strive to create as many durable goods in our woodshop as possible because it's important to us to feel proud of the products we offer.
We hope the next time you find yourself near Laurel, you'll stop by and visit us. We sure would love to meet you! Until then, thank you for following along with us on this journey. Anytime you shop with or support our small businesses, you’re becoming a part of our “framily” too.