Off-Mass: The Merc

While I wouldn’t identify as a health food nerd, I am definitely interested in maintaining a balanced diet. This can be difficult when roaming through your standard grocery (how am I supposed to say ‘no’ to the newest variety of Twix candy bars?).  Fortunately, Lawrence has an easy solution for these kinds of problems and this solution is called The Merc.

Sweet veggie garden outside of The Merc.

Interior of The Merc - radical Meat Dept sign.

Founded in 1974, The Merc was born from a group of locals devoted to community access to whole foods. As a cooperative market and deli, this specialty grocery focuses on local and organic products (Twix candy bars don’t even exist here! phew). Having heard of the choice products that can be found at The Merc, I was tickled to receive a $25 gift card as a random result of my participation in the Running for Food, Running for Health 5k (which The Merc sponsors during the month of July). What a nice way to experience my first visit to this health food mecca, don’t you agree?

I stopped by this specialty market on a weekday to pickup a few unnecessary items. Since I didn’t have a plan in mind (no grocery list!) I was eager to see what I would end up with at the end of this visit. If you’ve been to The Merc, you know that it’s beautifully organized with peculiar health products at almost every turn. This made shopping both fun and distracting! The varieties of soups, sauces, cheeses, etc. was fascinating, and most all of the types were distinct in some way or another. Needless to say, I was impressed.

Overall, two areas in the store really caught my interest: the Bulk Department and the Wellness Department. If you need a particular spice, herb, supplement, or vitamin; The Merc is ready for you! The selections here are obviously more diverse than those in other grocery stores around town.

The Bulk Department. Wow, right?

The palatable items that came home with me.

In the end, I probably circled the store’s aisles about three times if for no other reason than to admire the options and learn about healthy alternatives to everyday basics. While I can’t give up my Twix addiction yet, I plan to return for special occasions and particular items. So what was made of my $25 gift card? Well, a bag of organically grown seedless green grapes, a package of salami, three specialty cheeses, and a bunch of KIND bars fit the bill. My total expense was $31.25 (but only $6.25 after my gift card was applied). A successful visit, indeed!

The Merc is open 7-10 daily.

Find The Merc at: 901 Iowa Street, Lawrence KS 66044. [785.843.8544]

You can also find me in the Lawrence Journal World’s CheckOut publication which prints weekly on Thursdays.


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