When Shorty Peters lost her Punta Gorda Mercantile business, which was an old-fashioned general store, she said she needed to have somewhere sell her former store’s merchandise.
Her former location at 117 W. Marion Ave., next to Toula’s Greek restaurant, was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ian.
The busy entrepreneur was already running her namesake bar, Shorty’s Place, at the corner of U.S. 41 southbound and West Marion Avenue. So, she decided to move across the street to 264 W. Marion Ave. where the former Cubby’s Homemade Ice Cream store was for many years.
She reopened as Punta Gorda Deli Company and Mercantile and has created a rather unique kind of shop. Think of it as a trendy deli on the right side, featuring named sandwiches, salads and coffee, with a Cracker Barrel-type general store to the left.
The general store has a jewelry case, American-made Case brand knives in their own case, Southern cookbooks and how-to books, puzzles and games for kids, enamel cookware and dishes and hostess gifts, such as cutting and charcuterie boards.
Her partner Jane Griffin also worked with Peters at Shorty’s.
Griffin oversees the extensive menu, which includes artisan sandwiches, salads and desserts, while Peters handles the mercantile end of the business.
One of the menu items—The Big Sexy, a thick cut of ham, sharp cheddar, crispy bacon, lettuce, tomato and onion on sourdough bread—was named after Peters’ husband, Dave, who was instrumental in setting up the new location.
The preserves and jellies and other jarred treats for sale come from Arkansas food product supplier House of Webster.
“I’m from Rogers, Arkansas,” she said, of the city in Benton County in the Ozarks.
Peters is personable and charismatic. She is unaffected by the fame she’s garnered in Charlotte County. When people think of having a drink at a local bar/eatery, they think of Shorty’s.
Peters has taken her Arkansas roots and added in a mega dose of entrepreneurship and has transformed the corner store into one of a kind.
A recent crowd at Punta Gorda Deli Company and Mercantile were both locals and tourists.
One woman spent a half hour looking at possible gifts to bring home, while two ordered elaborate coffees made by Peters. One gave detailed instructions and without referring to a cheat sheet, as Peters blended the coffees to the delight of her patrons.
A rack in front of the register contained Jelly Belly candies, and there were even treats for dogs on a lower rack.
Up high against the left wall were kerosene lanterns, shades, what appeared to be oil lamps and a large display of cutting boards.
On the rear left wall there were puzzles and games.
Every nook and cranny is filled with gift items, but the large middle wall to the left is where one can find canned foods, including pickles and olives.
Breakfasts are popular at Shorty’s. Joe Osebold traveled over the bridge from Port Charlotte to enjoy a coffee and cream cheese bagel. He took a seat outside and enjoyed watching the sights and sounds of West Marion Avenue.
There is inside seating as well.
Shorty’s is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. It also offers catering done by Griffin for 10 to 100 people.