Planning a Trip to the Merc?
If The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska is on your list of places to go this year, here are five ways to make sure you get the most out of this fabulous woman-tribe experience.
The Mercantile is a beautiful building, from the windows to the floors!
One – The Lines Can Be Pretty Long
My friend Jana and I set out from Cushing, Oklahoma with plans to arrive in Pawhuska mid-morning. Our plan was to, first, get the whats-what, then eat lunch in the restaurant, after which we would fill our shopping bags with Merc-handise and then leisurely drive to Tulsa to catch our flight back to Austin. However, even with a 10:15 arrival, the line was out the door, and the wait time for those at the end of it was 2 hours, 45 minutes. Who would have thought the line would have started forming at 6:00 a.m.?!
There’s Jana back there peeking around the crowd. She kept our place in line while I went for a look at what it was we were waiting for!
Two – Skip the Restaurant if You’re Short on Time
There were chalk markings on the sidewalk that indicated how much time it would take to get inside. While Jana and I hoped these dashes across the concrete might not be altogether accurate, it quickly became apparent that they were. So, after an hour in line with two to go, we made a tough decision. We would skip the restaurant and get something to eat from the Mercantile’s Grab & Go deli section, where there is still a line, but not quite as long. We bought a couple of yummy meals in to-go containers (mine was Pioneer Woman’s pot roast) and ate them pretty quickly at a table on the sidewalk. Note: There’s no menu for the Deli Grab & Go; selections are decided daily by the chefs. The entrees are first, veggies and sides next, followed by big ceramic pots of soup, then sandwiches, ending with pastries at the checkout. It’s hard to see what all is in the deli case, so at least if you know the categories ahead of time, that will help. If you’re really short on time, consider purchasing a few pastries when you check out at the Grab & Go, and skip the upstairs bakery, too. I bought two maple scones, two almond twists and one chocolate croissant to take home for sharing with my sweetie. Jana bought a cranberry orange muffin and said it was delicious, with big, juicy bits of cranberry. Cookies, however, are only available upstairs.
The Grab & Go deli line has plenty of PW favorites like lasagna, pot roast, soups and sandwiches.
Three – Know Ahead of Time What You Might Want to Buy
Before you head to Pawhuska, take some time to peruse the Mercantile website, where you can get a good idea of the items offered inside the store. That way, if you can’t carry everything out of there that you wish you could lug, you’ll be able to pick and choose, based on what can be ordered online after you get home. Jana and I both bought a couple of super cute shirts. The candles smelled fabulous, and everyone was raving about the plastic wrap. All the women at the checkout were dressed in black and were wearing single strands of turquoise beads. I wish I would have gotten some, but didn’t see them until it was too late. Another find that I started to get was a beautiful floral mug but it was a little too expensive. I’m definitely happy with the Mercantile mug I ended up getting. I had seen a large display of them when we first walked through. By the time we got back, there was one left.
I still love my mug! Here’s a link to order one from the Merc.
Four – Plan Ahead for a Surprise Book Signing
If Ree makes a surprise visit to the store, and you want her to sign a book, you’ll have to go downstairs to buy one, where there may be another long line, so if you already own a PW book, take it with you. She’s also gracious enough to sign your napkin! I wish I would have taken my Charlie the Ranch Dog book for Ree’s signature, but I didn’t think of it. I also wish I would have thought to buy a couple more of her children’s books to have autographed as birthday gifts.
Five – Be Prepared for the Post-Merc Crash
I had a hard time going to sleep the night we came home from Pawhuska, a hard time waking up the next morning, and a hard time getting back to reality! Jana said it was the same for her. She said it felt to her like we had spent the day in a total ‘nother world, and I had to agree. We giggled the whole way home. What we didn’t buy, we talked about getting the next time. We also looked up PW’s recipes for some of the things we didn’t get to eat and resolved to make them soon.
This is kind of what we were hoping to eat that day. LOL (Get PW’s chicken fried steak recipe here.)
Basically, our pow-wow in Pawhuska was just an incredible day, long lines and all.
Thanks, Ree. You made our day. Week. Month. Year.
Here are a few more helpful hints:
- There are free municipal parking lots close by.
- While waiting in line to get into the restaurant, it is acceptable for your party to split up – while some keep your place in line, the others can go inside and shop the Mercantile shelves.
- Bring an umbrella.
- Carry a water bottle.
- Don’t wear heels. Ladies whose limo drivers drop them at the door still have to wait in line.
- Menus are passed down the line, which gives everyone a chance to decide what they’ll order once they get seated.
- A lot of women make this a generational occasion. If you bring great-grandmother, make sure you have a portable chair for her to sit a spell. If the weather is a little wet or chilly, she could wait across the street in the car until you’re further up in line.
- Large groups may be split for restaurant seating.
- The doorkeepers are good historians / comedians, and will do their best to inform and entertain the crowd with tales of historic Pawhuska, as well as stories about the dishes appearing on the menu and the chefs behind the scenes.
- The staff is very hospitable and are more than happy to take lots of pictures for you.
- Restrooms are available inside the store, but not at neighboring businesses.
- Mondays are the least crowded days.
And here are a few more pictures!
The Drummond kids are just as cute and polite in real life as they are on TV.
And Paige? Well, look how sweet she is. I sent this picture to my college son right away. Hey, son, would you like for me to try to get you a Pawhuska bride? He’s a barista, after all, so they already have that in common. I think that’s probably all you really need for a good arranged marriage, isn’t it? Two people who can both make a great latte. Yes, that will surely work out.
Just in case you haven’t read it, click here to get your copy of the love story that started it all, on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, where all the recipes have to be approved by hungry kids, cowboys and a very savvy businesswoman with red hair and cute boots.
Encouraging intentional adventure across the state line, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain, in Ooookkklllaaahhhooommma!
PS – If you’ve got an Oklahoma hankerin’ for some of that chicken fried steak, be sure you have one of these. It makes cleaning the cast iron skillet a breeze!
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