Over the span of more than a decade, Jules Mercer made a lasting impact on hundreds of children ages 2 through 5 years old via summer camp programs, craft parties, movie nights, and art themed birthday parties, among many more.
She did so at Destination Art, the go-to place for creativity, fun and learning she created in North Beach featuring small class sizes and personal attention. “I feel like I raised half the kids in North Beach,” she says with a laugh about the flexible, affordable services that perfectly complemented the local elementary schools in the neighborhood.
“We had so many different drop-in, after-school programs that allowed parents to get out of the house, and many of our students graduated high school and came back to work for me. I’d always worked with kids from a very, very early age – and I found it very easy working with kids, and they seemed to like me.”
Born and raised in the south of England, Mercer moved to the U.S. in her teens with a backpack and worked as a camp counselor in Ohio. She then moved further west and took a job as a nanny in Oakland and then ended up staying in the Bay Area, eventually in Tam Valley.
“I never tried very hard to leave,” says Mercer, who raised her two now-grown sons here.
After Mercer closed the school in 2019, she sought to turn the space into a large event space.
But the pandemic torpedoed that possibility, as gatherings for all ages – the thing Mercer is so good at – went by the wayside.
Mercer then opened a vintage clothing, furniture and clothing store at 301 Poplar Street in Tam Valley, which has been quite successful.
And then Mercer spotted a for-lease sign at the intersection of Shoreline Hwy. and Almonte Blvd., a space so large at 6,000 square feet that she could manifest the community hub she’d sought for ages: part retail, part creative outlet and part community gathering space in which to host events – or allow others to rent some or all of the massive space to do so.
“A wing and a prayer and then somehow I got it,” Mercer says. “I have a bunch of artists and other vendors that are all going to be involved and come on board. We’ll also host events, live music, self-help groups, movie screenings, open mic nights, trivia nights and much more. The upstairs area will be home to classes and workshops where artists come and teach.”
“All ideas are welcome, and it seems like people are really, really excited.”
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Mill Valley is lucky to have such a seasoned community builder. My son was lucky enough to have his artistic creativity stoked at Destination Art. Jules is a multi-talented muse, I encourage the local community to get involved and support the new Vintage Ruse!
Great news. Tam Valley has a spot for all to gather and enjoy a variety of events!
Thanks Jules. I can’t wait to experience the experience!