When shoppers walk into Calli Swofford’s navy-brick storefront just off Tennyson Street, they often soak in the white walls, airy shelves, and driftwood accents and then ask, “You’re not from here, are you?” It’s not an insult; rather, it’s recognition of Swofford’s effort to recreate the feel of the East Coast shops she worked in as a teenager and young adult. And, much as we love the rustic-industrial-chic Colorado aesthetic, Miller Lane Mercantile is as refreshing as the sea breezes that help inspire it.
“It’s a combination of calming tones and neutrals and natural materials that, to me, feels very New England,” Swofford, who grew up in Long Island’s East Hampton, says. “It’s been fun to bring pieces of that here.” Although the boutique is only eight months old, Swofford’s been building it out in her mind—and on a spreadsheet, noting designers, retail prices, and wholesale contacts as she discovered things she liked—almost since she moved to Colorado (from New York City) four years ago.
That prep work, done while she honed her marketing skills at Denver’s photo-gifts company Artifact Uprising, paid off when it came time to fill Miller Lane Mercantile’s 500-ish square feet with vignettes featuring giftable items that are both beautiful and practical.
“I think there still is something really special about coming into a space and being inspired by the way things are put together,” Swofford says. For her, that means arranging stock from across the country: 70 to 80 percent of her goods are from out-of-state makers.
To them, and to Miller Lane Mercantile, we say: Welcome to the neighborhood.
The Import Business
Although Swofford has plenty of #locallove—she carries pieces by Arvada’s Fenway Clayworks, and Fort Collins artist Lauren Fuhr has created paintings specifically for the space above Miller Lane Mercantile’s checkout counter—we like to comb her displays for new-to-us wares that, like these, can’t be found anywhere else in Denver.