By Heather Regula, Correspondent
The past year and a half have been a time of change and restoration for Cochran, Blair, and Potts. The oldest department store in Texas, established in 1869, unveiled the restoration work during an Open House and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, on Thursday, December 21, from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
“This has been a real labor of love for our family, and we are so happy to share it with Belton. We want to thank Miller’s BBQ for providing the food, and Barrow Brewing for the beverages,” remarked Robert Potts. “We did the restoration work in phases over about a year and a half, which allowed us to stay open in the process. It was a challenge, but the outcome is fantastic. I love the feel of the whole place now – it’s warm and welcoming.”
Nicole Stairs, Director of Program Development at the Belton Chamber, led the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.
“We are here to support Cochran, Blair, and Potts with the ribbon cutting. I’ve been looking forward to getting in here and seeing the work that’s been done through the restoration process,” said Stairs.
Belton City Manager Sam Listi is excited about the investment that has been made in downtown Belton.
“This business is an important cornerstone in the downtown community. Some beautiful things have been uncovered during the restoration process, and we’re grateful for the efforts taken to keep the oldest department store in Texas thriving,” said Listi.
Family members and numerous members of the community attended Thursday’s Open House and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. In attendance was Brenda Potts.
“My sons Robert and Michael help run the store, and they are the seventh generation of Potts to be working here. I’m so excited to be able to help show off the building’s beauty and the restoration to the community,” stated Potts. “Exposing the brick along the interior wall and discovering the original door that was hidden under a sign was remarkable. Those are probably my two favorite things about this restoration.”
Pat Gunlock, originally from Belton, lived elsewhere for about 50 years, before returning to her hometown in 2010. The refinishing of the original floors and the tin ceiling are her favorite parts of the store.
“I have been working here for about four years – I started right after my husband passed away and I work only on Fridays and Saturdays. This job works out perfectly, and it is exactly what I’ve needed,” said Gunlock. “Working here allows me the unique opportunity to run into people I used to know – I almost always encounter people I know in here.”
The live mannequins in the front window caught the eye of many passersby. The live mannequins were part of the winning window display during the Christmas on the Chisholm Trail.
“I love the live mannequins – they’re amazing! It’s incredible that all of these people came together to support downtown Belton and the unveiling of the restoration work at Cochran, Blair, and Potts,” stated Judy Garrett, Tourism Manager and Retail Development Coordinator for the City of Belton.
Cochran, Blair and Potts is open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.