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Eau Claire native returns with visions to reinvest

Posted November 4th, 2015

After living and working in several big cities across the country, an Eau Claire native has come back home.  And 27-year-old Becca Cooke has brought with her an invigorating attitude to build ‘community.’

 “There’s so much happening in Eau Claire right now.  It feels like a cultural renaissance and I wanted to be a part of that.  People my age- in their mid-twenties, are moving home to our roots.  And with that, I think we’re bringing new visions from the places we’ve lived, to reinvest in Eau Claire,” Cooke said.

Cooke, who grew up on a dairy farm in Eau Claire and graduated from North High School, has lived in a few states, and even had a stay in Uganda.  But a desire to get back to family and a more pleasing lifestyle drew her home.

This week, she’s opening Red’s Mercantile on N. Dewey St.  “I believe strongly that our local economies grow stronger when we reinvest in ‘Main Street.’

Red’s is a home goods and accessories store “that seeks to source quality goods from Midwest makers to support Midwest economies.”  Red’s will carry blankets from Faribault Mill from Faribault, Minnesota, to hand-crafted canoe paddles from Sanborn Canoe of Winona, to linens from Little Korboose, a textile artist in Ohio.  A local leather maker, called Low Roads, is debuting purses and wallets at the shop.  “Everything is unique, functional, and intentional,” says Cooke.

With neighbors like The Local Store, Passion Boards, and a future boutique hotel, Cooke hopes to foster “a unique retail environment that pushes the envelope of just ‘shops on a street,’ but one that offers experiences.”

“I’m excited for this shop to help foster community with patrons and to build relationships with people,” Cooke says.

While working the summer after graduating high school, it was patrons at The Nucleus on Water Street, who started calling her “Red,” a nickname that stuck.  It now adorns her new storefront.

Red’s Mercantile will open November 6, and will have store hours Wednesday through Sundays.

“I did all of the work on the shop with friends and family who graciously volunteered their time, for which I’m grateful.  It made me realize that you can achieve anything with hard work and community,” Cooke says.