After making thousands of dreams come true, what could be next for the company Mertailor? All his life, the Mertailor himself, Eric Ducharme has created tails. Weeki Wachee Springs being his main inspiration; young Eric was enchanted watching them swim in those flowing tails through the water. He began making tails as soon as possible, by the age of sixteen officially becoming the Mertailor. His tails found him astounding success. From appearances on Drag Race, to Lady Gaga herself ordering from him, Mertailor has become an internationally acclaimed brand. One of the top tail makers in the world!
It was around 2019 the idea of becoming a retail store began to take place. Not an aquarium originally, but a store with mermaid shows. The aquarium came much later into production. The plan was to buy a huge tank to decorate the store, where customers could watch a mermaid show in the store to help encourage them to buy. Performing had always been a dream of Eric’s, one that he briefly experienced working with Weeki Watchee. But as his tail making career took off, his dreams to perform were temporarily paused. Now, performance was back and ready to lend a hand to his career. On top of his grand idea, Mertailor was outgrowing its previous home in Crystal River, FL. It was time for a change!
The location of 4100 W Gulf to Lake Hwy, previously a furniture store; was set for the new mermaid tail shop. The first weekend of June 2020 was when Mertailor officially set up shop in Lecanto. In the back still sit our sewing stations, a silicone lab, and the main hub of Mertailor tails. The team placed down a lease for a 15,000-gallon aquarium tank just before moving in. However, there were still some major bumps in the road. It was Eric’s mother, Candy Ducharme who asked the question that would lead to the start of the Encounter; “What are you going to do when there are no mermaids in the tank?”
The question was answered by the talking Macaws Eric had rescued over the years. The Macaws flooded his house and backyard aviary, and all were beautiful animals. Eric built an aviary in the new location that his birds immediately claimed as their own. As he watched his birds flutter and flap their wings, another idea came to his mind. What if they also had a fish tank guests could look at? Just like that he watched as the store transformed into something more than a place to spend money. With the addition of each tank, the planed retail store went from 4000 sq. ft. to a mere 500 sq. ft.
Looking at all the animals he had collected, Eric realized Citrus County needed a place like this. An educational facility where people could experience life under the sea and all its wonderous creatures. Thus, the Aquarium was born. More than a simple show, the Encounter would be a place where people could learn something important – something that would inspire them to protect animals. To protect the beauty and grace that awaits under the sea.
On December 20th, 2021, Mertailor’s Mermaid Aquarium Encounter was born. We have been growing steadily and strongly ever since! Ironically, the 15,000-gallon performance tank ordered in 2020 was the last tank to arrive in early 2022. New exhibits, new mermaids, new shoes, and so much more excitement is always washing over us. This is only the beginning for the Encounter! We hope you’ll watch us grow more with each passing day!