Slocal Biz: The Mercantile

"I am ridiculous with gift giving, I think that's all why this happened. I mean, it's fun. It makes everybody happy. You know what I mean? We have no idea how long we're here for, so, make people happy and give them gifts."
-Katelyn Kaney, owner The Mercantile

Some of us have a rich history here in San Luis Obispo. Small business has such a history here. This particular one began on 1019 Chorro Street, just below where Luna Red sits now, in 1899. George Deiss and John Berkemeyer opened a butcher shop at this location, hiring Italian brothers Bill and Pino Cattaneo. Taking what they learned, and only $200, the two launched their own sausage and jerky biz on Caudill Street in the seventies, becoming famously known as Cattaneo Bros.

There is another history which began one block down and across the street at 950 Chorro, where a Cal Poly grad, Jayne Kaney, opened an antique store in 1976. Her mother had bought the building and she curated a storefront, running The Backdoor for more than ten years. It was then in 1988, she took her business savvy and joined with her husband, Mike Kaney, to purchase Cattaneo Bros. It is here were our two histories collide into one: Katelyn Kaney.

Growing up in the family biz, Katelyn learned much from her parents and grew familiar with the business of Cattaneo Bros. She watched them expand their line to turkey jerky to fruits and nuts, introduce a catalog, rebrand and repackage to encourage these items not only for snacks, but as gifts. So, when her parents passed in 2008, Katelyn took the reigns as owner. And, for the past five years, has continued building what her parents began. Last November, she returned to the street where it all started, to the same storefront her mother once owned on 950 Chorro. It is an offshoot of her already established business, as well as a space for her to showcase other local products. It is, truly, The Mercantile.


The manufacturing side of things for Cattaneo Bros. is challenging and can be stressful. And since it is Katelyn's passion to have a gift shop and interacting with the people, this storefront serves as a breath of fresh air. The Mercantile launched in November, displaying an array of Cattaneo Bros. products-including their new line of Range grass-fed, nitrate free jerky (Ruby Rose approved, it comes in four flavors, equally delicious)-as well as loads of other locally sourced items. Katelyn wants to promote products made in SLO from small producers and hobbyists who may not have the platform to get into big businesses. And then put them all together in one basket, and give it away.


One of the most unique things about The Mercantile is its appeal to locals and passers through alike. While you can buy items separately, Katelyn provides another brilliant service: build your own gift basket: "My goal is for someone to walk into the store and be able to create some kind of gift, whether it's a natural food basket...whether it's a sweet tooth basket or whether it's an all meat basket...whatever they need, they can find some things here." There is a space in the back of the shop with everything you need to create a beautiful gift basket full of local products. Choose from jerkies, dried fruits, nuts, Therabee honey, San Luis Soap Company, Templeton Toffee, local linens and locally made jewelry. You can even add in your own local wine! The Mercantile is dedicated to keeping the price point on all in-store items affordable.










She recognizes her own business' tiny beginnings in a basement meat market, and wants to continue to tell the history of shopping small in San Luis Obispo. The Mercantile is open Monday through Saturday 10a-6p and Sunday 11a-5p. So be sure to stop in, grab a gift-or basketful-and enjoy a little taste of our county. Oh, and don't forget to follow The Mercantile on Instagram (@themercslo) and on Facebook.