Why The Pioneer Woman's Friends Thought Her Store Might Fail

Well, howdy pardner! Pull up a stump and set a while, wouldya? This here's a tale about an ol' general store called The Mercantile and how there twern't almost no store a'tall (via The Pioneer Woman). Ya see, long ago, way back in... oh... 2012, Ree Drummond and her husband, Ladd (known 'round these parts as The Pioneer Woman and her Marlboro Man), done bought up the old Osage building over yonder on Main Street, and were fixin' to... well, fix it up... and serve some fixin's... Okay, sorry; this voice has gotta go.

The point is, America's beloved Pioneer Woman could not just make the best biscuits and gravy west of the Mississippi, she needed a place to sell them, too; alongside turquoise necklaces, hobo handbags, and all the oh-for-Pete's-sake-would-ya-look-at-how-darn-cute-those-are tchockies that one tiny town in Pawhuska, Oklahoma could handle. That's when she and her husband decided to transform a 100-year-old building into a shop, restaurant, and bakery, dubbed The Mercantile. But not everyone envisioned the bustling success that the store is today. 

In fact, some of Drummond's friends were downright doubtful. Darn tootin'.

Wacky one-offs make The Merc wild and wonderful

Perhaps the Nervous Nellies who clutched their pearls when Ree Drummond wanted to open up shop were simply anxious about The Pioneer Woman's buying methodology. When it comes to what The Mercantile elects to shelve and sell, "Ree hand-picks each and every whimsical find based on one rule: Every item has to make her smile," The Pioneer Woman website says. "If it's funny, weird, cute, or pretty, I bought it for the store," Drummond explains. Which is probably why salt and pepper shakers shaped like Marie Antoinette share space with bacon-flavored lip balm and bowties for dogs. 

With such an ambiguous bar, Drummond's pals were, apparently, less than confident that The Mercantile would find success: "I was mocked and ridiculed by my friends at first," Drummond says, laughing all the way to the bank on her blog.

Joke's on them, because the wacky products "flew off the shelves" when the store first opened in 2016, according to The Pioneer Woman. These days, blogs like Oklahoma Wonders promote The Mercantile as "an absolute must" if you are headed to the Pawhuska area, warning that lines will be long and you may not have room in your bag for all the cool stuff you'll inevitably purchase. The Mercantile itself is assuring customers via its website that while the restaurant is seating at limited capacity, the jewel of Pawhuska's eye is back up and running with regular hours, and is as weird and wonderful as ever. As for The Pioneer Woman herself? "I feel so vindicated!"