Mr. Old Market Dies

Ashlee Pitzl

Mr. Old Market Dies

CREATED Feb. 15, 2013

OMAHA, NE - The "Grandfather" of the Old Market has died at the age of 92.  Sam Mercer passed away on February 5th in France.  He left behind family and a legacy in Omaha. In the mid 1960's, Mercer fought to preserve many historic buildings that are still used today in downtown. Without his perseverance, the Old Market would not exist.

The stores that fill the Old Market today are very different from fifty years ago, although the buildings are the same. Shop owners describe Mercer as a visionary who kept history alive. 

"It's obvious to all of us, without Mercer's vision, we may not even have the Old Market," says record store manager Mike Fratt. His business, Homer's, was one of the first along the cobble stone roads downtown. 

"He wanted to take advantage of the assets that were already here and convert it into something special for the community," says Fratt. Mercer reached his goal.   

Today, the historic buildings are what give Omaha an edge compared to other cities in Nebraska. Business owners say most of their customers come to shop because of the atmosphere, and it's also why many owners choose to set up shop downtown. "I like the ambiance of the old buildings versus the one in the malls out west," says Goldsmith-Silversmith owner, Dwaine Ferguson.  

Mercer left his real estate company to his son Mark, who lives in Omaha. Mark manages many buildings his father bought decades ago.