When Samantha and Calen Bird saw Rose Apothecary created by David Rose’s character on the comedy Schitt’s Creek, Samantha thought, we need something like this here.
The husband-and-wife business partners already rented a storefront in Trolley Square that houses their Midwinter Co., a boutique specializing in gray diamonds and unique engagement rings, and they decided the adjacent space would be a convenient and aesthetically ideal location for their “modern general store.”
As Samantha perused products from artisans on the internet—everything from gourmet table salts to smudge bundles of sage—her vision began to materialize. Literally.
Not one to personally use crystals or the other energy-healing tools that would line half her shop, the graphic designer and hobby photographer explains, “This was more of a visual thing for me. I started with an image of the store, then I put it together. I just pick out what I think will look good.”
She didn’t know how her next “passion project” would be received by the community, but she was determined to try it anyway. The couple also planned to donate sales to local charities. So far, Calen says, the reaction has been positive.
After a lot of lead-up on social media, in October the Birds officially opened Trolley Square Market, a “refreshingly modern version of the old-timey mercantile” offering an eclectic host of goods through what the pair call “a mini apothecary” (alternative healing therapies, like herbs and tinctures), an “itty-bitty paperie” (stationery, stamps, journals) and functional finds (because who doesn’t need a shoe-repair kit?). Other specialty items include small plants and gardening tools, jewelry and handbags, pottery, soaps, children’s essentials, and unisex T-shirts with phrases like “Be Kind.”
For the market, Samantha does the buying and visual merchandising; Calen takes care of the books, including hardbound classics he discovers at nearby antique malls and resells on a back shelf of the store. Alongside the collection are more of his fun vintage finds, like crates of vinyl records and midcentury board games.
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“There’s a rotating artist exhibit in a 5-foot-by-4-foot alcove, with 100 percent of sales going into the featured maker’s pocket. From all other sales, 10 percent is donated to Delaware charities that include the Urban Bike Project, Habitat for Humanity and the Sunday Breakfast Mission.”
Perishables like honey, maple syrup and coffee beans come from area artisans, mostly in Pennsylvania. Samantha works with popular vendors to create “market exclusives you won’t find elsewhere,” and there’s also a rotating artist exhibit in a 5-foot-by-4-foot alcove, with 100 percent of sales going into the featured maker’s pocket.
From all other sales, 10 percent is donated to Delaware charities that include the Urban Bike Project, Habitat for Humanity and the Sunday Breakfast Mission, Samantha says. While the charitable arm remains consistent, “What we offer is ever-evolving,” she cautions. “Just because you see something now doesn’t mean it will be here when you come back.”