Kaarin Engelmann stands i front of the Thomas Merc in Swan Lake, Idaho. She has purchased the building and wants to restore it.

SWAN LAKE – The Thomas Mercantile in Swan Lake, Idaho is being resurrected.

Kaarin Engelman began the project of restoring Thomas Merc in Swan Lake, Idaho. She is from Virginia (the state, not to be confused with the town of Virginia down the road).

Kaarin Engelmann bought the 112-year-old building with hopes of giving it a new life as both a market and a gathering place for the town of less than 150 residents. She has plans to list the building on the National Register of Historic Places(the

I am fixing up the store repairing the roof, adding handicap accessible bathroom, expanding the kitchen and keeping the country store the same size,” she said. “I am hoping the community will bring their fresh produce, honey, eggs to sell as the season progresses.”

Thomas Merc. was also the town post office until it closed in 2017. The previous owner, Kim Thomas, inherited the store in 1984 and ran it as a post office since the beginning. It was also a mercantile store and gas station until his retirement.

They talked to the Post Office about resuming delivery there but there are plans to put a separate building across the highway.

Engelmann has lived in American Falls and Blackfoot and she recently moved to Swan Lake from the state of Virginia, not to be confused with the town of Virginia down the road. Engelmann still works as a niche publisher and communications manager for a labor management company.

“My father was an a entrepreneur,” she said. “He had a printing business both in American Falls and Blackfoot.”

Engelmann is also a former game board game publisher and she promises to have board games for people to play at the store.

“I wanted to come back to Idaho. I have a two sisters in Downey and one in Blackfoot,” she said. “I was looking for an old building to restore and I found this place.”

She bought the store from the Kim Thomas estate. Kim passed away in 2020. She plans to breath new life into the building and the community.

We are going to host a Swan Lake Summerfest, a farmers market party on the green space next to us for Memorial Day to honor the store and community,” Engelmann said. “We will have music, food and fun. I hope we can get some good participation.”

She has already posted the details of the Monday, May 30th Swan Lake Summer Fest on Facebook. The event will take place from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. They will have local vendors, food and entertainers for the event. Most have already been booked.

Hudson Jones a Senior at Marsh Valley High School moves a new shelf while Lovita Harris watches. The two are helping to restore the Thomas Merc in Swan Lake, Idaho

“I’ve been talking to Van Woodward at Woodward Country Store in Weston,” she said. “He has a successful business that is working well for him where he’s at. Thomas Merc. will be more of a grocery store, but very similar.”

The store will also be stocked with hunting and fishing supplies as well as products from local rural Bannock County artists.

They are not going to sell fabric like in the past, but she is going to bring back the peanuts and cardboard for people to sit on the radiators while they talk, solve the problems in Swan Lake and the world.

Swan Lake is 18 miles from Preston just over the Franklin/Bannock county line traveling northwest on US-91.

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