This week we’re hearing from Mikey Huff in Anchorage. Huff is the co-owner of The Mercantile, a new shop in downtown Anchorage. They specialize in menswear and handmade goods, with an emphasis on local products.
HUFF: I’ve tried to move away a couple times, but Alaska’s really magnetizing for me. I just can’t keep myself away from it, so every time I leave I feel a big pull to come back home. Most notably, I spent some time in Portland, OR and ended up, for a while, six of us, two cats in a one bedroom apartment. And it went down from there where there were three of us living in a Toyota Corolla and then you can imagine that returning to Alaska, where I know I have a place to stay and a place to return to, is definitely a whole heck of a lot better than sleeping with two guys in a car.
So I’ve been a small business owner in Anchorage for a long time, but as far as having a brick and mortar store, that was a big step for us and a new process for me. Figure out what you can live comfortably with. Figure if, you know, if you need to be paying that $10 bill to Netflix every month? Do you need to be making a car payment when you could be riding a bike? Or do you need that new pair of shoes? Figuring out what expenses you can cut, and invest in your self and your future instead of investing in these temporary things that probably aren’t a necessity. And if you’re not utilizing every dollar towards your new business, then you’re just wasting your time and your money because you’re setting yourself up for failure.
I think that the community within Anchorage has been really supportive. Everyone in Anchorage seems to want to work together to build each other which I really appreciate. So one day I was sitting in the shop, and I heard a knock on the window. It was before we were open. There was this corky looking old man out there and I opened up the door and he says, “Hey! I’m selling some stuff. Do you want it?” I said, “What do you got?” He said, “Follow me.” So I walked with him and we started digging through his stuff he was selling off and I found this beautifully ugly taxidermy animal, and to this day no one’s been able to tell us what it is. It looks like a mix of a fox and a mink and a dog and a cat. And it’s very strange. I bought it for 10 bucks, and I love it and I named him Douglas. And I posted it on Facebook and someone came down and they saw Douglas and they said, “That thing is hideous. My dad is a hunter and my mom hates that he has all these taxidermy animals so we took them down. They’re sitting in our safe. They’ve been in there for ten years. And we want somewhere to display them. Would you guys want to display them?” Ad so now we have all this beautiful taxidermy from someone who just wanted to help out the shop.