Retail Spotlight

Meet the Shopkeeper: Mercer

The women's clothing boutique marries department store styles with a cozier setting tucked within University Village.

By Amanda Austin September 10, 2012


Owner Karen Bonomo curates on-trend pieces at the University Village Mercer store.

Taking all the perks of fine department stores—a collection of the finest-fitting denim, expertly tailored basics, and an exciting splash of fun, seasonal pieces—Mercer in University Village boils it down to a delicately curated blend of what's both current and wearable.

Owner Karen Bonomo founded Mercer and Co. in 2003 with the intentions of creating a space where mothers and daughters can share a shopping experience that will leave them both satisfied by the range of on-trend and age-appropriate pieces—an experience they can find in U Village as well as the smaller original store in Sammamish. We caught up with Bonomo to see just how she manages to pick things to please a diverse crowd.

What song or album is playing on your store’s sound system right now?
The Civil Wars' Barton Hallow.

What was your first job in retail? How does it compare to your job now?
Nordstrom at South Coast Plaza in Southern California. I was the Brass Plum “dump” girl, which means I had to put back all the clothes that were left in the dressing rooms. I loved it, because there was always a great energy in that department, and I was proud to be working for such a great company when I was just 17 years old. It was not much different from what I do now—I'm still putting clothes away—but the big difference is that now I get to go market and pick out all those cute clothes for our customers to try on.

What’s your favorite thing in the store right now?
J. Brand midrise skinny dark vintage jeans. I love the wash, and the fit is perfect. I am also slightly obsessed with the bright red glossy Hunter rainboots that we just got in for fall. I think that I have to have a pair of those.

Where do you shop when you’re not at your store?
I have been buying most of my shoes at Nordstrom since I was 17, and I still think that they do a great job with those classic shoes that I need in my wardrobe. I can not resist stopping in any Sephora that I see because I am a bit of a product junkie. I also love Target for workout clothes, but my favorite store of all time is Watson and Kennedy in downtown Seattle. They do a gorgeous job of merchandising all of their beautiful, eclectic, gifty items. I love that place. It is a must see for any Seattle girl.

What do you love about your store’s neighborhood?
University Village is a special place. Being so close to one of the country's best universities brings lots of dynamic and amazing people to that neighborhood. My other store is in Sammamish, and I love the sense of community, the great schools, and the warm and friendly people there. My husband and I have raised our two daughters in Sammamish, and we feel lucky to have been able to live in such a beautiful place.

What nearby restaurants, coffee shops, etc do you recommend?
My favorite coffee shop and restaurant are both actually in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. I love Stumptown—it is the best—and Osteria la Spiga is an amazing Italian restaurant just down the way from Stumptown on 12th. So yummy.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened in your store?
That is a tough one. We have great customers and a great team of people that work in the stores. Not much ever happens that it is weird, and if something were to happen that were strange, our team could handle it.

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