General News » News

Concession Road celebrates first anniversary in Alliston

April 5, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Wendy Gabrek

In just one year, Concession Road Mercantile has become a top local destination for unique gifts, cards and Canadiana in New Tecumseth.

Last week, owner Carol Austin celebrated the store’s first anniversary with red balloons and mini red velvet cupcakes sporting the store’s logo. 

Austin decided to open the store after moving up to Loretto from Toronto. She didn’t want to commute to the city for work and decided to develop a business close to home. With a background in marketing and sales, Austin researched trendy business ideas and settled on the concept of the “modern general store”. 

While sourcing products to sell, she gravitated toward Canadian companies as well as artisan made items manufactured by small artists and designers across Canada. Over the past year, she’s found that the emphasis on both artisan and Canadian-made really resonates with her customer base.

Austin estimates that about 90 per cent of her product lines are from Canadian companies. 

The name for the store comes from Austin’s Loretto address where she lives on the 4th Concession. She finds it ironic that she ended up with a rural address since she was a dedicated city girl having spent her adult life in both Manhattan and Toronto. But three years ago, she and her husband decided to find a country property they could eventually retire into. They’ve happily traded traffic and city stress for a property large enough to hike with their two dogs, a small flock of chickens, and tapping maple trees in the winter. Austin’s newfound connection to rustic and rural living played a big role in her inspiration for product themes for the store.

Some of the items you’ll find at Concession Road Mercantile include beer glasses made from recycled beer bottles, handcrafted wood charcuterie boards, rustic style blankets and pillows, hiking trail books, local organic honey, and lots of Canadiana items.

When she chooses products to carry, Austin gravitates toward qualities she personally supports such as natural and organic, sustainable and responsibly made. 

Over her first year of business, Austin was surprised by the number of young families that came through her store—pregnant women, moms and dads toting young kids and pushing strollers. 

“I had no idea that there were so many young families that have settled in Alliston. Lots of these people moved up here from Toronto and they recognize many of the trendy brands I carry–not only from GTA brands, but across Canada,” Austin said.

As a “modern general store”, Concession Road Mercantile carries a wide range of products including kitchen items, gourmet foods, décor items, clothing and jewelry, items for kids and babies, stationery and greeting cards, soaps and natural body products. 

“I would say though that over the past few months, the store has evolved so that most people now refer to it simply as a ‘gift store’. Last Christmas I had many local people come in and do just about all of their Christmas shopping in one stop. On most Saturdays, I have people rushing in to pick up a last-minute gift and card. People often tell me how happy they are to know they can count on finding something unique right in town. That always makes me so happy to hear,” Austin told The Times.

One other “department” in Austin’s little general store, which flows nicely from her artisan focus, is her crafting area. Austin is the exclusive area retailer for Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint—a line of craft paint that people use for reviving old furniture or creating crafts. 

“This paint is actually made right down in Etobicoke at a small factory there that’s been in operation since 1988. It’s the only Canadian company that produces milk paint,” said Austin. 

To support the use of these paints, Austin hosts workshops right in the store where people can learn to use these paints on a small item like a wooden step stool, a rustic clock or stenciled sign. 

“I work with some local carpenters who create unfinished pine woodcrafts that we can finish with the milk paints we use,” she said. “I also change it up a little by having other crafting workshops such as stained glass, modern calligraphy and soap felting.” 

One of the things Austin loves most about having a store in a small town, is the number of people she’s met and the many stories she’s heard about the town and about its people—both long-time residents and new residents. “In one year, I’ve made a lot of new friends and the support and response for my little store has been overwhelming.” 

An unexpected outcome for Austin has been her growing involvement in the community.  “I’ve been a community organizer going back to my early twenties and always love giving back to the community I call home.” 

Last fall, Austin helped organize a movie night event with Alliston’s historic Circle Theatre which sold out the theatre with over 200 women at each of two nights to watch a documentary about a women’s motivational speaker. Austin also recently joined a steering committee to form a women’s membership group in New Tecumseth called 100 Women Who Care.

“This is a community group that raises funds for local charities and non-profits. At our first event we had 50 women join our group which was amazing! Our next event is in May and we are hoping to reach 100,” said Austin.

Concession Road Mercantile is located at 96 Victoria Street West in the heart of downtown Alliston. For more information visit or email


Readers Comments (0)

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Page Reader Press Enter to Read Page Content Out Loud Press Enter to Pause or Restart Reading Page Content Out Loud Press Enter to Stop Reading Page Content Out Loud Screen Reader Support