Lou Mettler's vision comes to life in his boutique on 21st and Chestnut streets.
Visitors can travel to nearly all fifty states when they walk into Mettler's American Merchantile store. Each item, in the store, is made in the United States.
Mettler's story is this: For 20 years, he worked in the fashion industry alongside American design legend Ralph Lauren, becoming one of the only people–other than Ralph himself–to own a Ralph Lauren flagship store. After Mettler's time with Lauren, he became one of the founders of Tommy Bahamas, a luxury resort-wear company. Eight years ago, he decided to sell everything off and start something on his own–a specialty-store that sold only 100% U.S. made, high-quality products.
Based in Northern Michigan, Mettler has opened three U.S. stores since his brand's conception– two in Michigan, and one most recently in Philadelphia. Why Philadelphia?
This is where Robert Chevalier, entrepreneur and chairman of architectural design company, The Knoll Source, enters the picture. The two men met through their wives and became longtime friends. This camaraderie eventually lead to a partnership between the two when Mettler asked Chevalier if he would team up to open up his third Mettler's location. Chevalier, having no prior interest in the business, said yes, wooed largely by Mettler's mission to sell U.S.-made products.
"If you come into a store like ours, you will probably find a lot of things you won't find in a place like Nordstrom," says Chevalier. "Visitors are blown away because they see things that they haven't seen anywhere else." Luxury shirts, belts, hats and shoes all line the walls and tables of the store's interior, all proudly made in our country.
On Black Friday of 2012, Mettler's opened on the first floor on 21st and Chestnut in a rehabbed church. The church is currently occupied by both Knoll Source and Mettler's, and they plan to expand the store to the second floor of the building. The opening of the Philadelphia store, which came together in less than three months, was an opportunity for Lou to test his brand in an urban environment with the hopes of bringing it to similar cities around the states.