A thrift shop section in the back of the Center Street Market helps fund the Eatonville Family Agency's food bank. 
Photo by Danielle Chastaine.
A thrift shop section in the back of the Center Street Market helps fund the Eatonville Family Agency's food bank. Photo by Danielle Chastaine.

Alana Smith is hoping her new store, the Center Street Junction-Mercantile and More, will start gaining profit at the end of its second year to help benefit the local food bank. The shop is about to hit its first anniversary in Eatonville.

Although Smith has seen a lot of support from the community, its profits are still breaking even with the cost of rent, employees and overhead.

“They say it takes two to five years for a business to become profitable,” Smith said. “But I think we can do it just before our two-year anniversary.”

The Mercantile is more than just a shop, and a salad bar that also serves tacos; it’s a way to help local vendors and families in need.

“I’m the president of the (Eatonville Chamber of Commerce) so I have a big spot in my heart for these small businesses,” Smith said.

The Mercantile features over 40 local merchants and artists selling anything from home decorations, homemade wood art, antiques and more. In the back is a small thrift shop comprised of donations from the community. All the money from the thrift shop helps support the Eatonville Family Agency, which Smith directs. The merchants who rent space in the Mercantile also pay a small percentage of their profits to help the food bank.

The store opened in May 2018 with just 19 merchants and a few donations. In the last year Smith opened the salad bar, hired four part-time employees, gained multiple volunteers and filled out the thrift shop.

“It’s been better than I could have every imagined,” Smith said. “The community donates to it, we have a ton of volunteers but I think the most exciting part is it’s become a community hub. People will have coffee and lunch and hang out, supporting us the locals have been amazing.”

While some customers come straight back to just visit the thrift shop, many visitors from in and out of town like to peruse the many vendors.

Where else can a shopper find a cute log decoration, a hand-painted image of Eatonville and new shoes for work?

Smith was born and raised in Eatonville and moved away to raise a family. She moved back six years ago and dived into her work for the community.

“I’ve always wanted to open this store but it took a lot of money and overhead to raise,” Smith said. “But last year we were able to get the money together to do it and it’s just been a whirlwind.”

The Eatonville Family Agency is a “hunger relief organization” for Eatonville and other parts of Southeast Pierce County. It serves families in a 580-square-mile radius.

The Eatonville Family Agency has donated 29,881 clothing items to families in need, has given 11,438 backpack meals to local students, it has 8,057 seniors who participate in its organized activities and has 12,009 clients for its food bank.

In 2018 it cost $227,000 to run the agency, which is why Smith is hoping to gain some profit in the next year.

Smith said the Mercantile is looking for more vendors all the time and is working on creating a line of homemade candies.

The Center Street Junction – Mercantile and More is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday but Sunday.  Anyone who wishes to donate to the store’s thrift shop can bring donations during business hours.