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My Favorite Local Potentialist. An Interview With Sandra Rojas of La Merceria

By Coco



When I first stumbled upon La Merceria I can’t tell you how excited I was.  In the middle of an otherwise forgettable portion of Adelaide St popped open a fresh and quaint café selling some of the best coffee in the city along side some of the most desirable housewares, gifts and stationary.  A place I could take a meeting, grab a quick bite and even write.


After frequenting for a short while I met the owner, Sandra, and couldn’t help but instantly connect with her.  Not only did we align in our tastes and obsession with details, but also in our passion for sharing the things we love through our small businesses.



Growing up in Columbia and moving to small town Ontario in her early teens without knowing a lick of English, Sandra’s story not only inspires, but is a true example of realizing the potential.  So when American Express asked me, as an American Express Ambassador, who I saw in my local community that was a Potentialist, I immediately thought of Sandra.

With a resume that includes working for some of my faves; assistant to the Creative Director at Caban (remember Caban!  Oh how I miss it so!), Product Developer at Aritzia, House & Home and PC Home; Sandra took all that she learned from making products for mass consumption and decided she wanted more of a direct connection with those who would end up enjoying it.

She, along with her husband, opened La Merceria with hopes to create a space that transcends the traditional ‘grab and go’ experience.  A home away from home where the Barista knows your name.  Where you can refuel, chill out and leave with the perfect gift or accessory for your home.


She overcame the odds, never gave up and now has a thriving business that has brightened up a long ignored part of the city.  This Real Life Potentialist brings employment, passion and inspiration, encouraging others to follow in her footsteps and to continue to Shop Small.

So now that you know who my Real Life Potentialist is, who’s yours?  American Express is on the hunt for Toronto’s Neighborhood Gems and they need your help.  Head on over to their Facebook page and vote for your favorite local Shop Small business.  Vote daily because every day there’s a chance to win a $50 Amex gift card!


Check out this little video interview we did with Sandra.  Such an inspiration! (and how cute is her son!)

Video created by the extremely talented P Plus!



p.s. check out our Creating The Life with Sandra HERE


Leave a Reply

  1. Dr. L says on

    This is a lovely piece about a great small business.

    I feel conflicted about the nature of this “shop small” campaign. I am a successful small business owner and I find that American Express charges exorbitant fees to process their cards. All of the benefits card holders enjoy are funded by retailers. Many small vendors simply refuse to take AMEX because of the fees. It appears as though AMEX is using a guise of social consciousness to promote the use of their cards at small shops. Which really serves only to line their own pockets. If they truly wanted to support us, they would scale their fees based on yearly billings. For example, reduced rates for people that bill them less than 100 grand per year.

    Not a critique of the blog; just my perspective as an entrepreneur.

  2. wendy says on

    Thanks for posting about La Merceria. The cafe and its owners make it one of my favourite hidden gems in Toronto. Just voted for La Merceria on the Amex web site.

  3. Sandra is a doll & very personable. And yes has the best lattes with a shot of Dulce de Leche (yum) I also had my wedding pictures taken there as I got married down the street and my wedding favors were coffee beans from her store. Very glad that you picked her!

  4. Love Coco, Sandra, La Mercia, P Plus… & this video!! Amazing job. xo

  5. Patricia Goldman says on

    Sandra is great and the concept and charm of her place is unique. There should be more than one place like this in Toronto. I love the set up, the products and the teas and coffees.. Lovely Place !!