NEAR PASCO, Wash. - The Country Mercantile is just a few miles north of Pasco on Highway 395. It's grown so much it can take hours to browse through. There are shelves upon shelves of locally made, locally grown and handmade goods.
Everything at the Mercantile is local. One of the store's products is AJ's Walla Walla Sweet Onion Mustard. It's made in Pasco and uses, well, Walla Walla Sweet Onion. The Country Mercantile has come a long way from selling just produce out of a tent. That was nearly 20 years ago.
"So we started dreaming big," said store manager Max Uriostegui. "We saw that we had no limits. That's what got us going big."
The Country Mercantile is internationally known. Managers say a magazine in Italy named it one of the top places to visit in America. It was recently highlighted in Seattle's Evening Magazine show and AAA Magazine also gave the store kudos.
"Our customers tell us kind of what we need to add," said Uriostegui. "That's a good thing. Instead of my own ideas, a lot of those come from customer's requests... We pay attention to that."
He said 76% of the store's customers are tourists, like Loy Rheinauer. She and her husband are from Phoenix but for over ten years they've visited the Country Mercantile while traveling in the summer.
"Fresh fruit, their jams and jellies," said Rheinauer. "We eat lunch here. It's a marvelous place."
"Yesterday we were packed to capacity," said Uriostegui. "We're already thinking about expanding another 30 feet or something like that."
The store is only going to continue growing from here. There area few amusement rides outside and they plan to have a full park within the next five years. The Country Mercantile is also looking into expansion. Another store is in the works, possibly in another state.