HGTV’s Erin Napier is Opening Her Dream Store

Erin Napier

Laurel Mercantile/YouTube Erin and Ben Napier open their primary store, Laurel Mercantile, in December 2016

After Erin Napier prompted lots of online speculation over her next big project in her small town of Laurel, Mississippi, the HGTV star and her friends have revealed which type of store she’s opening next — and it’s one she’s dreamed of for a long time.

New Shop is Devoted to One of Erin’s Favorite Things

The “Home Town” star triggered lots online speculation on September 7, 2022, when she posted an Instagram photo of a quaint shop window, saying it was “killing” her not to be able to share what she was working on.

Inside the shop were large floor-to-ceiling banners made to look like the spines of vintage books, including one called “Porch Party” authored by “Napier.” Another book banner had the word “Laurel” on the spine and the year 1882, which is the year that Laurel, MIssissippi — the Napiers’ hometown — was founded as a lumber camp. There was also one with the title “Scotsman” and another titled “Portside.”

Many fans guessed that Erin was building a bookstore, given her love of reading. But her colleagues at Laurel Mercantile, the home goods shop the Napiers co-own with several friends, spilled the beans on their blog: the building they’ve been renovating in downtown Laurel is going to be a candle shop that will also carry scented soaps and room sprays.

That explains why the shop window features the words “every scent tells a story.” In addition, the titles listed on the book banners are all actually names of existing candles sold at Laurel Mercantile.

It turns out the secret that Erin said was “killing” her not to tell wasn’t much of a secret after all.  The Laurel Mercantile blog actually featured news of the candle shop back in July 2022, but it seems neither Erin nor her fans realized the secret was already out when she revealed the unfinished shop window in early September. However, there’s still some mystery surrounding the shop, as the blog hinted at special design elements of the store that are being kept under wraps: “Without spoiling the surprise, let’s just say that its decor, theme, and customer experience will excite even the dullest noses.”

Ten years ago, one of the Napiers’ best friends and business partners, Josh Nowell — who’s often seen on “Home Town” pitching in — purchased the building where the candle shop will be, long before the TV show even existed. Extensive renovations to the two-story building, which dates back to the early 20th century, began in 2022.

“This building is pretty special because I used to live across the street from it,” Nowell said on the blog. “I knew I wanted to see it developed into something worthy of its history, and thankfully, we’re starting to see it transform back into its original form.”

Nowell put years of research into the history of the building, which housed Marcus Furniture for many decades. In 1936, it was remodeled with an Art Deco vibe, with an architectural glass called vitrolite all over the front of the building, which became a tourist attraction for a while. But times changed, businesses left and Laurel’s downtown was stagnant for many decades.

The fully restored candle shop will continue the robust revitalization that the Napiers, along with their business partners and many townspeople, have taken on over the last few years to bring Laurel back to life.

Erin Has a Special Gift for ‘Scent Memory’

Garden Collection – Pear Cake"In the spring of 2013, Mallorie and Jim were expecting their first baby, Lucy. After lunch at my grandmother's one Sunday, Mallorie stood on the screened porch with her hand on her growing belly, staring at the pear tree in the yard. Tiny white blossoms had sprouted on the limbs the week before. When the…2022-05-27T17:50:16Z

Erin’s role at Laurel Mercantile is as head of development for their candle line; she not only has a passion for scents but a special gift for noticing and recalling them, which she wrote about in a May Instagram post.

“Scent memory. Gosh, such a huge part of who I am and what I’ve been reading about lately called ‘core memories,'” she wrote. “This is a strange skill I’ve had since childhood, the ability for photographic recall of events and people and things in my life from a scent. But I reverse engineer it too: the day I smell something new and wonderful I remember everything about that fragrance, internalize it, and make a way to go back to that time with the sniff of a candle.”

As an example, she has previously said on Laurel Mercantile’s blog that her earliest scent memory is recalling “exactly what my mother’s perfume smelled like in 1991 when I was six years old.”

She turned many of her scent memories into the store’s bestselling candles, soaps, and sprays. For her, each one brings up particular emotions that take her back to specific times and places in her life.

Nowell loved the idea of turning the building he bought a decade ago into a candle shop. “We wanted to build a candle store that will celebrate the power of scent because we believe they can transport you to the past or take you somewhere else,” he said.

The candle shop will open on West Oak Street in Laurel sometime this fall, and Erin’s been working on a new candle line for the holiday season.

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