In July of 2017, Commerce received a new local coffee shop. Mugs on the Square was founded by Kelsey Lytle, Katie Walden, and Beckey Thompson with the vision to “create a place where students and community could come together in fellowship and friendship.” On any given day of the week, the vision expressed by the owners can be seen in action. Students from the college complete class assignments while enjoying a cup of coffee alongside members of the community who come to catch up or spend time with family. Mugs has accomplished their vision and gone further by proving “that small businesses can thrive in a small downtown” and they hope their success will “pave the way for other businesses to take the leap into downtown revitalization.”
The process of renovations was extensive, and Lytle explains that “1123 Main Street was a diamond in the rough” but it was “so rewarding peeling back the layers to restore the building to its original beauty.” The building Mugs operates from underwent renovations, repairs, and building code updates in 2016. Part of these updates involved taking down the metal siding in order to expose the original brick of the building (built in 1896), which was taken down, cleaned and re-laid. The metal siding was put up by the previous business, Ken Parker SVC, the operator of an air conditioning installation and repair company that used this storefront as Commerce office, along with their location in Greenville, Texas. Ken Parker, SVC, ran at this location from around 2003-2015, after taking the location over from another air conditioning company. Local historian Otha Spencer explains that “Leon’s Heating and Air Conditioning...was a family-owned business that is operated by Mr. and Mrs. Leon Walden, with part-time help from their son Eric and Sarah. The business started as a part-time appliance, heating and air-conditioning repair in the Walden home at 1310 Park Street” where the post office is now located.
Prior to its use for in the air conditioning industry, 1123 Main Street housed numerous businesses. It was a sewing center, photography studio, and flower shop. Other interesting uses include the Edythe DeWitt Dance Studio (1955), a Soil Conservation Office (May 1955), and Service Barber Shop (1956). In 1945, it became Fresher Foods Grocery and continued to serve the same purpose (under two other names ) before becoming City Barber Shop in 1951. W.T. Roan’s Hardware and Implements occupied the space through most of the 1930s, after the Mity Nice Bakery closed.
The Commerce Bakery (which preceded Mity Nice) closed on April 7th, 1930 after losing a battle between local bread and the bakery products from Greenville and Paris that grocers in Commerce preferred instead. The Commerce Journal labeled this “a public disgrace” because “hundreds and thousands of dollars” left Commerce as a result of individuals using bread from outside sources. The most prominent occasion for this disloyalty was the Third District Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs visit to town. A harsh critique of how the Commerce Bakery was “slowly strangled to death” by “public indifference and buying merchandise in Greenville or Dallas or anywhere but” in Commerce called for prioritizing local businesses. It is fitting, then, that Mugs on the Square started with this same vision: to revitalize and grow downtown Commerce.