Quiz: You need to buy pig feed for your pigs, an antique saddle, Elvis memorabilia, live worms for fishing and maybe some ice cream and a cupcake or cookie. But you can only make one stop. Where are you going?
The only place I know of is Cantonment Mercantile, a one-stop shop on US Highway 29 that offers a food and seed store, an antique mall, and a bakery with fresh produce. I found it on a road north of Nine Mile Road, while getting to know my new stomping grounds. I don’t see many places that still use the old, to my ears, “mercantile.” Intrigued, I stopped.
The business, the former Cantonment Feed & Supply, was purchased five years ago by Sabrena Padgett and her brother Danny Hart, and the two converted the facility into a feed and seed section, a antique mall and a bakery section. I had visited Cantonment Feed & Supply before and was always warmly welcomed. But it’s something different. Yet it’s still the same thing. If that makes sense.
“I always wanted to be a baker,” Padgett, a Tate High School alumna, said as she waited for a chocolate chip cake to come out of the oven. “Now we have the bakery and we also have ice cream.”
The bakery area was constructed on the north side of the building, which was used by the previous owners for food and supply storage. Today there is an area adjacent to an ancient trading center, itself separated from the food and agricultural supply area by a simple screen gate.
“We have a great group of customers,” said cashier Leslie Powell, who works on the feed and supply side. “A lot of people come in and shoot the bull when they come to get their food. It’s a one stop shop. We have farmers, homesteaders and with garden season coming up we have everything you need to that. And you can have an ice cream cone while you’re here. Is that great?”
Pretty awesome. The feeding area contains almost everything a farmer would need. (I guess. I have no idea what farmers need. I’m grateful for and to them though.) There’s poultry feed, lamb feed, pig feed, cattle. Seriously, there’s a lot of food. There are also tools and equipment, Alabama/Auburn trinkets and offerings from corn to apples to corn to deer and others for hunters.
The antique mall has more than 50 vendors selling homemade and antique items, jewelry, clothing, toys and unique finds, such as one vendor offering a multitude of old saddles and another vendor with an Elvis section.
“Everything is local, whether it’s resale or handcrafted,” Padgett said. “No one orders (from abroad). You’ll find some really unique things here.”
Tracee Neese, who lives in the Cantonment neighborhood, has been selling her self-made jewelry in the store for four years.
“I have enjoyed selling my handmade earrings at Cantonment for four years because I love the staff and owners,” Neese said via text message. “Plus, the clientele is good country people from the north end of Escambia County. And they also have monthly events for everyone.”
A new offering coming from Cantonment Mercantile is Meal Prep events. Cantonment Mercantile does the shopping and most of the prep work, then hosts a party where customers can come and, with the recipes provided, prepare their meals on site, put them in a freezer zip bag and take them home to cook whenever they want. Cantonment Mercantile’s first “Freezer Meal Prep Night” took place on January 26th. Meals feed four to six people and cost $25. Early meal prep options include Bacon Ranch Meatloaf, Honey Parmesan Roast Pork, and White Chicken Chili.
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Check out the Cantonment Mercantile Facebook page for more details and to stay up to date on future meal prep events.
One thing that hasn’t changed at Cantonment Mercantile since Padgett and his brother took over is Shadow, the old black cat who wanders around the complex and stays there.
“That was one of the stipulations,” Padgett said of purchasing the company. “We had to keep Shadow. Everyone loves Shadow.”
Cantonment Mercantile is located at 406 NUS Highway 29.
This article originally appeared in the Pensacola News Journal: Feeds and Seeds of the Cantonment Mercantile Antique Mall on US 29