By Brentyn Young, The Belton Journal
In 1869, the retired Colonel H.M. Cook, who served in the Civil War, opened the store H.M. Cook and Co. The store was moved to Belton in 1884 to follow the railroad boom.
Throughout the first few years after the store was founded, its name has changed several times as ownership of the store was passed down through the generations of H.M. Cook’s family, until 1916 when the store’s name was solidified as Cochran, Blair & Potts.
Cochran, Blair & Potts is the oldest operating department store in the state of Texas, being one of the few stores that started before the Great Depression still in operation. Cochran, Blair & Potts has a museum in the upstairs portion of the store that highlights moments from the history of the building and the history of Belton through newspaper clippings and memorabilia from the past 146 years.
“We (Cochran, Blair & Potts) pride ourselves on providing quality merchandise at a fair price, and that goes a long way,” said seventh generation co-owner Robert Potts.
Over the past century and a half, the needs of their customers have shifted, and Cochran, Blair & Potts has been flexible enough to adapt to the changes in their product line while still maintaining a close relationship with their shoppers.
In the past, Cochran Blair & Potts has sold items ranging from coffins to coffee beans. Currently, Cochran Blair & Potts sells mostly boots and other types of footwear, but they also rent out tuxedos and sell men’s and women’s clothes.
The current owners of the store are members of the Potts family: Michael, Robert and Ashley. They plan on handing the store off to the next generation of Potts, eventually. They can be contacted on their Facebook page and are currently working on getting an official website up and running.
For more information, call the store at (254) 939-3333.