When Mortimer Blackburn arrived on the shores of North America he had already had an idea of what he wanted to accomplish in his life. He didn't know what it would be, or how it would look, but he had a pretty good idea of the direction he would go. He wanted to start a store. He'd already found entrepreneurial success as a small business owner as a student. His wheeling and dealing had accomplished a lot in the short time he'd spent at his old alma mater. And there were a few students who would never forget him, for good or ill.
But this was no Hogwarts, and he was no longer a child. But the same wit and enthusiasm that had made a name for him would come in handy once again as he navigated and negotiated this new frontier.
So the magical mercantile as we know it first was started out of need. Mortimer was a fresh new emigrant trying to make heads or tails of his new home, and having a bit of a time of it. Everything was unfamiliar, and his tendency to avoid use of magic was a bit of a tax, at least from the perspective of his fellow wizards. He did admittedly use it in the initial set up of the tent, but as usual, he was very careful to avoid it whenever he could. He wasn't not a wizard, and he was wise enough to use it when that reality presented a need.
But rule number one for success in his first merchandizing attempts was this: don't rely on magic when something more practical will do. Too many wizards rely so heavily on magic that they undercut themselves! That's where his specialty shined: not all magic solves problems, and not all problems are truly benefitted by magic (as we know it).
He'd also learned to never use it in regards to relationships; magic was no substitute for a friend, and love comes of no involuntary spell (or at least its a magic for beyond the corporeal stuff he'd been taught by his instructors). Even in running the business he learned quite quickly that to rely on magic could be a short cut to pain and headaches (a saying he would pick up later from one of his World War II companions was, "Easy come, easy go.") Whenever possible, it was always better to establish understandable, repeatable systems, rather than wave a wand at his problem.
His father had been in the merchant/shipping business, and Mortimer had spent a summer with him after leaving school "prematurely" (not his words) on deck of his ship, or the ship he was commissioned on. It was definitely more than he had expected, but exactly the kind of "education" he'd left school in search of.
That little adventure on the high seas had ultimately bourn fruit in a relationship with some rather gregarious and friendly American chaps who'd also invited him and his father to come see them in America.
He'd reconnected with these friends upon his arrival, but had be set on making his own way.
It has been inquired as to who might be the closest friend or associate of Master Mortimer. Many guess appropriately that his brother might be his closest ally, and they would not be completely wrong. But they would not be entirely correct. Long before his brother came to his side on the road to his destiny, Mortimer had another.
Among his many compatriots and companions, Master Mortimer always had one who was with him from the beginning of his adventures. That was of his magical mercantile, or to be specific, the medieval tent. It was this lady that was his first and most constant friend through the earliest years of his adult adventures. Through thick and thin, pain and perspective, as well as and danger and deprivation that he became indistinguishable from the profile she cut against the dimming sunset and rising sun. He was Mortimer, and she his mercantile.
Initially this connection was no more than maker and means, but only after a run-in with the djinn did his tent take on a personality of her own.
The Franchises of the Magical Mercantile
Over the years, Mortimer Blackburn established many separate franchises of his mercantile. Not all of them were in tents, either. In fact a few of them eventually were brick and mortar storefronts.
As a new American immigrant, was chasing success and fortune. Once he found success in his first establishment, he wanted to open another. As those thrived, he opened stores anywhere and everywhere he could. And once the known wizarding community was filled up, he went looking for other peoples and places to set up new shoppes.
So he hustled, and worked, and established a presence wherever he could find an audience. He had plenty of money, and in a world of someone who was pretty creative and resourceful, plus had magic, money didn't really have a lasting hold on him.
It was the challenge to build, and to grow. It was the adventure and the passion of making something, and building something bigger than himself. In time, it grew to much more than even this. He eventually used it as a front for some very meaningful movements, projects, and endeavors that saved or preserved individuals, traditions, and ideas that were at risk of being destroyed.
Mercantile were opened in Narnia, in Wonderland, and in Steamville. They were in China, Japan, in Germany, and France, and in the South Pacific. And he had a pretty nifty network to keep track of these. In each store there would be a variety of portals or doorways that allowed hasty travel from the Blackburn Boarding House to each of these franchises. He'd even devised an adaptation to a very old tradition of using wardrobes for travel. One wardrobe could be used as a reliable means of transport with just a flick of the hanger, and the right shirt, on the left, that is. A few mistakes were made in the beginning that left him stranded before they'd established the franchises themselves, and had a reliable means of return. Also mirrors, tapestries, and port keys all helped to organize the ever expanding network of growing businesses. Mirrors framed in doorways, tapestries covered them, and port keys were the genuine article.
Eventually he would condense accessed franchises into a carefully laid system established through the magic of the wardrobe. He started by collecting in one location the various portals that would allow him to travel to and from. Eventually he realized that he needed a more regular means, and eventually more diverse means of accessing his stores.
Once he organized his portals into the wardrobe, occasionally there would be a left over doorway here and there; he discovered by accident how convenient that was if one doorway ever closed or became unavailable.
This private travel network was the means by which the Great Magical Migration was facilitated. It allowed migrations to happen unseen, and beyond the reach of the authorities. He could transport entire races who wished to find freedom. Eventually the news got out and he had to use more discretionary means to assure that those who were coming would not tell, but at first he had to deal with the consequences of leaky ships.
He would come across these places, not because of luck, but more because wizards had never stopped and considered that there might be worlds beyond the corners of the world that they had chosen to inhabit. If they could have trap streets and undetectable extension charms, what would prevent entire worlds from springing up in other unaccounted corners of the world? And it was his for the taking! New lands meant new customers, and new customers means new franchises!
And there was the constant search for new products; new places opened up new traditions, new creators, and new vendors who might want to sell in his shops. And with a smattering of shops throughout so many distant lands, he could never have enough product to from his many, many suppliers.
It began as a single tent, expanded into many standalone Eventually it expanded into multiple pavilions within the same brand and place. It then moved to a large brick and mortar store, and the many franchises would each follow this path as the company continued to grow.
Once his mercantile moved to a permanent location, Mortimer was so preoccupied with other purposes, that he wasn't as focused on opening new stores. This he left to his employees and students.
Some of the vendors he used for the various products he sold also had standalone stores, and they had expressed to him an interest in selling independent of the mercantile and to man their own little stores. He'd attempted to open a marketplace for other sellers earlier on, but due to the changing needs and circumstances of the mercantile, he had to put these ideas on the back burner.
Once the mercantile moved to a permanent location, it opened up all sorts of space in the courtyard of the Blackburn Manor, as well as space in Mortimer's attention span, and he reignited his plans to host a weekly market. Every Friday and Saturday outside vendors were invited to come and sell their wares, and to mingle and meet as a magical community on the Blackburn's property. This continued into the present. It also conveniently became a focus of the school, where students were allowed a choice opportunity to explore and attempt their hands at the crafts they were seeking to develop.
Visit The Local Shoppe
Come to Master Mortimer's Magical Mercantile for all your wizarding effects! We sell all sorts of handmade goods, from wands to brooms, to feather quills and ink. We also sell handmade wooden toys and all sorts of potion ingredients. We also plan to make and sell original pottery, weapons, leaded stained glass, and custom costume pieces, including dresses, corsets, leatherwork, hats, and armor.
Or just wait until Saturday to come see us in our magical marketplace, where you can shop and play, meet magical creatures, watch performers, and come dressed to the nines as your original character! It's happening any day of the week, contingent on you making an appointment, in the court yard of the Blackburn Manor.