El Dorado just got sweeter with the addition of The Sweet Mercantile, a gourmet chocolate, candy and gift shop opened by area native Anna Graves Vestring.
The Sweet Mercantile, located at 201 N. Main St., opened Thursday. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and four hours on Saturdays, and it offers chocolates and candy along with gift items.
“Everyone loves chocolate,” Vestring said, “and there is so much local talent that needed a place to shine.”
Vestring purchased Sweet 120, which was located across Main Street in the District 142 shopping center, and moved the store to expand her inventory. In addition to the candy selection that Sweet 120 offered, The Sweet Mercantile will carry a number of artisan gift lines handmade by local vendors and several lines Vestring ordered from out of the area.
Vestring is not new to retail; in fact, her entire life has revolved around it. Her grandfather purchased part of the drugstore that became Graves Drug Store on Main Street in El Dorado in 1919. A year-and-a-half later, he purchased the rest of the store.
Eventually, Graves Drug Store had three stores in El Dorado, and at one time the drug store chain included a total of 13 stores in Kansas and Oklahoma. Vestring’s father, Bill Graves, took over the stores from her grandfather, and after college, Anna joined the family business.
“I enjoy being around people,” Vestring said. “My grandfather was a big role model to me.”
Through the years for various reasons, the Graves family sold different Graves Drug Stores. Vestring sold the final two stores, located in Winfield and Ark City, about seven years ago. Since then, her biggest job has been serving as a grandmother to her granddaughter Chanel, 7.
“It was always my dream to just do the gift end,” Vestring said.
When Vestring’s friend Joyce Parker told her that she was going to sell Sweet 120, Vestring couldn’t get the idea of purchasing the store out of her head.
“I had a strong sense that it was the right thing to do,” Vestring said.
The store’s chocolate supply comes largely from the Sweet Granada out of Emporia and a Kansas City vendor. The store sells candy individually out of the case or by the box, and the Sweet Mercantile makes gift baskets.
The local gift lines include homemade edibles by Arletta Koehn, baby bibs and bedding, toddler items and housewares. The store will continue to get in new merchandise regularly.
“I want to see what people want,” Vestring said.
The Sweet Mercantile
201 N. Main in El Dorado
Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m.