If you’re a fangirl of all things Pioneer Woman like I am, you simply must partake in the ultimate immersive Pioneer Woman experience, a trip to her mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. I journeyed there with one of my besties last spring and again with my mom and aunt this fall, and I’m already scheming for my next visit. Today I’m channeling my enthusiasm into this scavenger hunt-style list for you. To maximize your enjoyment of The Merc, I recommend the following ten things:
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1. Chat with some friendly Okies while you wait in line.
No, that's not a friendly Okie; it's my bestie, Shannon. We arrived at The Merc after our two-hour jaunt from the Wichita, Kansas, area at about 10:30am on a Friday and hopped in line for lunch immediately, having heard tales of long waits. Our time in queue passed quickly, due mostly to the friendly Merc employee who chatted with us and entertained the crowd with her big personality. In our zeal to get this party started we'd neglected to dress warmly, so our new friend wasted no time in wrapping us both in a giant shawl and giving us gloves to wear while we stood in line. This set a tone of kind hospitality that was maintained throughout our day of interactions with Merc staff--how delightful! We ended up being seated for lunch at about 11:30am; I hear that an hour-long wait is average for a weekday, but weekends can get quite a bit busier.
Plan to wait in line, get cozy, and make some new friends of the Okie variety. You'll be glad you did!
2. Satisfy your stomach with Tex-Mex.
Enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner at The Merc, and if you're in a hurry, grab a tasty to-go meal from The Deli. The Merc's menu is extensive, and everything sounds delicious, but fortunately you've got some time in line to examine your options carefully before making a mouthwatering selection.
You're in Oklahoma, so when in doubt choose Tex-Mex! I was extremely happy with both of these--chicken and beef enchiladas with cotija cheese and black beans and steak quesadillas with guacamole and pico de gallo. Yum!
3. Pick up something fun for your kitchen.
Now that you've revived yourself with pico and guac, you're ready to get your shop on! The Mercantile feels like what I imagine a store of its kind might have felt like fifty years ago; it's bright and cheery and offers a colorful variety of dishes, kitchen tools, home decor, fashion accessories, books, and toys. You can purchase items from The Pioneer Woman line originally introduced in WalMart and unique things you'll only find here, all at a variety of price points.
Though The Pioneer Woman brand has expanded to include all sorts of products, let's not forget that this all started with home cookin' and good eatin'. I bet you do a decent amount of those things in your life too, so why not pick up something that sprinkles the process with a little fun?
My favorite find at The Merc is these plates, which look like china but are actually tin, making for a low-maintenance take on a fancy family tradition. (Win-win!) These are commemorative patterns used among English royalty, and the story of each is written on the back of the plate.
(Psst, you can find some Merc merch online as well!)
4. Elevate your cowgirl style game.
If you're an aficionado of Tony Lamas, jewel-tone tops with floral embroidery, leather bags, and the like, you've probably noticed that Ree Drummond, Ms. Pioneer Woman herself, has her cowgirl style dialed in and on point. She's shared a bit of her style aesthetic with us at The Merc, which sells clothing, jewelry, and purses fit for a rodeo queen. This turquoise necklace, worn by Merc retail gals, is extra long and can therefore be styled a variety of ways. (And you know I couldn't pass up the green version!)
Snag a PW accessory and channel your inner cowgirl.
5. Complete your library of Pioneer Woman books.
Many of us owe our fond feelings of familiarity with the Pioneer Woman to the fact that she's so often with us while we cook, providing us with delicious but simple recipes, showing us what the dish ought to look like along the way, and entertaining us with clever quips and gorgeous photos of ranch life. The pleasant mentorship I'm speaking of comes via cookbook, and you can find all of her cookbooks, children's books, and autobiography at The Merc. Purchase one, and she just might be around to autograph it for you! Here are my favorites from the PW book collection:
6. Sip the best darn iced coffee drink of your life.
When you're all shopped out, head around the corner or upstairs to one of two coffee bars for an Oklahoma-style caffeine boost. If your taste buds enjoy a bit of a kick, order yourself a Spicy Cowgirl, a delectable iced mocha with chile syrup and cayenne pepper. You'll be over the moon, I promise. (Ree has done us a favor and shared this recipe with The Food Network here!)
7. Watch and wait for a glimpse of your girl, Ree.
While you're sitting and sipping upstairs in the sunny bakery area, keep your eyes peeled!--Ree's office is also located upstairs, and she occasionally steps out to say hello to her adoring fans, sign autographs, and pose for pictures.
The stars aligned for Shannon and I to be seated in the bakery on one such occasion, and we loved getting to meet Ree! She was just as sweet, charming, and down-to-earth as she seems on TV.
8. Pretend you’re a Food Network star at the Lodge.
When planning your visit to The Merc, you might want to check out this webpage to see if your visit coincides with a day on which visitors to The Merc can also tour The Lodge, which serves as the Drummond family's guest house and the production location for Ree's show on The Food Network. I've not yet had this distinctive pleasure, so I asked Shannon to send me a few of her pics and helpful hints. (She too returned for another visit to The Merc with her mom. Are you seeing a theme?) Lodge tours are free and can only be obtained the day of the tour at The Merc. Simply ask a Merc employee for a ticket and directions--you'll need them as The Lodge is a bit of a drive out of town and requires a several-mile jaunt down gravel roads. Shannon suggests heading to The Lodge earlier in the day to avoid crowds, as most people spend the majority of their day at The Merc and then head to The Lodge closer to closing time at 4:00pm.
9. Grab a blueberry scone to-go.
Before heading out to begin your trek to The Lodge, grab a blueberry scone or other culinary delight from The Bakery. Take it home to indulge in the next morning while you reminisce on your dreamy day. (And I won't judge you if you eat it on the way!)
10. Pose for an iconic PW Merc pic.
Don't forget to ask your bestie or your mom or a friendly Okie to snap a photo of you in front of The Merc with the Mercantile sign visible in the background. This commemorates your trip and ensures that your Facebook friends can easily tell where you've been while they're scrolling through similarly-posed pics of people standing in front of Magnolia Market. (See, I've thought of everything for you!)
Above all else have a fantastic time! You deserve it!
I’d love to hear about your trip to The Pioneer Woman Mercantile! What would you add to my Merc to-do list?