By CHANSE WATSON
WALLACE — There are many things in this world that go hand-in-hand with each other. Ali Koski, owner of Oliver’s Mercantile in Wallace, is positive that T-shirts and beer are two of those things.
Located at 605 Bank St. inside the old J.C. Penney building, the newly opened graphic design company, print shop and bar is now offering customers a diverse and unique combination of products.
For years, the building has housed The Cobblestone antique store until its owner, Mark Davis, passed away last year.
Koski now leases the space with the intent of finally growing her businesses, AHA! Creative and Traveling T, into the retail side of things and adding a beer element as well.
“I knew I wanted to bring my business to Wallace, but it wasn’t until I walked into the estate sale for Mark’s estate that I really fell in love with this building, then it just kind of snowballed from there.”
AHA! Creative is the graphic design arm of her enterprise while Traveling T is the printing service.
Koski has ran her businesses from a Coeur d’Alene office for almost 10 years now, but she explains that government bureaucracy made achieving her ultimate goal there difficult.
“There was a lot of permitting we couldn’t pass, we couldn’t pour beer within a certain mileage of churches … everything just kept pointing at no.”
Koski had familiarity with the Silver Valley due in part to dating a former employee at the Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan. The two would use Wallace as a date-night destination and just as an escape from big-city life.
Once the building was bought, it took roughly 12 weeks of construction to mold the old J.C. Penney building into Oliver’s Mercantile.
“It was a blank slate that I could see opportunity in, but it just needed someone to come in and love it,” Koski said of the building.
The new layout boasts an open showroom of sorts, allowing customers to peruse a wide variety of products including customized apparel and items. This is topped off with two sources of alcoholic beverages — a cooler on one side filled with 75 different cans and bottles, and an actual beer garden with eight different taps on the other.
The goal is to never have a drink on tap that is already somewhere else in town and to encourage visitors to make themselves a variety six-pack with the beverages in the cooler.
“T-shirts and beer have always gone together for me,” Koski said. “We have a company called the Traveling T and we travel to beer festivals and print T-shirts on site.”
On the upper floor is where much of the designer and hand-typographer team will work to bust out new designs for clients and the multitude of products they offer in-house.
In addition to the building suiting her needs, Koski chose Wallace as a home for Oliver’s Mercantile because of the welcoming atmosphere.
“Everybody asks us that. My answer to ‘why Wallace’ is always, ‘if you get it, you understand. If you don’t, then you’ve never been to Wallace.’ We have really received nothing but open arms from the city of Wallace. We’ve had a great experience working with the city and county through the whole permitting process.”
The unique combination of being a beer and graphic design destination makes Oliver’s Mercantile a place where a person can find “something different or something special.”
“We are excited to not only be a bottle shop, but a print house as well. You can come in and drink a beer while watching us make shirts,” Koski said.
Oliver’s Mercantile is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to close. For more information, visit its Facebook page.