By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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PORT TOWNSEND — Quimper Mercantile Co. will celebrate a grand opening Nov. 17, while company officials said they are trying to allay concerns from some merchants about competition from the publicly traded establishment.
Company officials said they have been refining store operations since the store's soft opening Oct. 11 and have been communicating with customers and Port Townsend merchants about how to proceed.
The celebration will be from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the store, 1121 Water St.
During the day, there will be demonstrations, special events, raffles and food, according to assistant manager Holly Mayshark.
“We are ever-evolving and changing,” Mayshark said.
“We wanted to take some time to make sure that we were more organized, that staff knew how to operate the point-of-sale system and they understood the stock.”
Quimper Mercantile Co. — or QMC — was formed after Swain's Outdoor, which was in the same Water Street location, closed in early 2011 after having operated in Port Townsend since 1996.
A group of local investors sold stock to open a store that offered items that were no longer available in the downtown area.
Merchandise includes sporting goods, toys and clothing for men, women and children.
Mayshark said sheets and towels have been among the most popular items, while underwear is the most in demand.
On Wednesday, company officials invited several downtown merchants to the store to show support for it and for a photograph they hope to use in advertising in area newspapers.
From the beginning, store management has stated it does not want to compete with local merchants or overlap what they offer.
Instead, the store seeks to offer items that are not available elsewhere downtown.
Not all merchants are convinced of that.
Steve Goldenbogen, owner of Whistle Stop Toys, did not participate in the photo shoot because of his concerns.
“There are four toy stores in town, and [QMC] has 20 percent of their floor space devoted to toys,” he said.
“They are competing in a lot of areas and are offering things that overlap with other merchants, and they need to do a lot better in this area.”
Quinn said QMC has maintained constant contact with local merchants in order to eliminate or understand any overlap.
“We had 8,000 items to start,” he said.
“We couldn't make sure that things would never overlap, but we worked with each merchant to make sure that it was mitigated to their satisfaction.
“We aren't where we want to be, but we are talking to everyone and attempting to resolve any problems.”
Said Jackie Jackson, manager of About Time Clothing in Port Townsend: “I've heard some grumbling [about competition], but there are still some things they need to work out.
“We all want everyone to succeed down here, and there is room for everyone to do that.”
Lois Venarchick, who has been a downtown merchant for 35 years as owner of Wynwoods Bead Gallery, said she thought QMC “are off their mission a bit.
“But I won't get upset until they start selling beads and yarn,” she added.
Quinn said downtown merchants are all in it together.
“Our goal is to bring 200 to 300 new shoppers downtown every day,” he said.
“That will benefit all of the shops down here.”
Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.