Caitlin Gibson has fond memories of browsing mom-and-pop shops in Delmar, New York, and longed for that convenience when she moved to Ruxton with her family in 2012.
The area in Delmar—called Four Corners—had a pizza shop, a bookstore, and a linen shop—and Gibson fell in love with the idea of Main Streets and the value that good, local shops could bring to a neighborhood.
“I’d see a little store and tell myself that if I ever had [my own] I’d carry this or that,” she says.
Her husband, Alex, kept nudging her to make it a reality. But Gibson—an attorney who works as McCormick & Company’s in-house counsel—already had a lot on her plate.
“I was on maternity leave and I just had our fifth baby. And I work full-time, so I was like, ‘That’s kind of crazy. Maybe someday when the kids are older.’”
But when a storefront became available in the summer of 2018 at Ruxton Station, a small center near Graul’s Market—walking distance from their family home—Gibson decided she needed to give it a go, and they opened Ruxton Mercantile that October.
“It’s like a modern version of a general store, where you can come in and get household items and a pair of earrings,” she explains.
With lanterns in the window; wood shelves along the walls to hold chic, multipurpose items; and warm, minimalist touches, it functions as a testament to Gibson’s laid-back, elegant, and practical approach to hospitality and living.
“I don’t think anybody has a perfect, streamlined home, but I think everything you have should have a purpose. You should love it,” Gibson says.
A mom of five boys, ages four to 15, she holds to the philosophy that “people should have fewer, better things,” and focus on items made to last.
“I’ll buy one nice coat, and every kid will wear it.”
Gibson’s selections outgrew the cozy space and when the shop became available next door, she quickly snatched it up, knocking down the wall separating them. With a larger store, Gibson was able to expand her collection of curated finds. Now, clothing, wellness goods, and jewelry share space with bottled cocktail blends, kitchenware, tea supplies, and housewares such as totem pillar candles, vases, watercolor prints, and rustic tabletop accessories. She motions to one of her favorite items—a glass decanter with a wood stopper.
“You could pull this one out time and time again,” says Gibson. “It’s a beautiful decor piece for your dining room or kitchen shelf, but you could also use it for a fancy cocktail.” One customer told Gibson she enjoys it all the time. “I love hearing that. I love when people say they love the store,” she says.
Gibson says being the proprietor of Ruxton Mercantile is hard work (luckily she has a great staff) but she loves the challenge. “This is something that I just find gratifying in a different way,” she says.
“I love spending time here in the evenings when the kids are sleeping. I’ll turn on a podcast and start working on displays,” says Gibson. “It’s my creative outlet.”