Revitalize Comanche

By: Sarah Childers

I am always on the lookout for people, places, and things that are wholly and genuinely authentic, with the possession of integrity behind their actions. 

Honestly, I think we all are. 

When those things are found, it proves to us that this world still does have good in it. That we are not really always surrounded by the bad things we believe ourselves to be. 

For me personally, that good tends to show itself in the likelihood of folks setting out to create something that aligns with their God given talents. This can be witnessed in various ways such as teaching a skill, building something, an artist creating a masterpiece, or even a person executing an idea behind the scenes that will, in turn, benefit the rest of the community. 

I also think that it is one thing to go and do something for the greater good, however, it is much harder to accomplish a goal of the same nature in unison with other like-minded individuals. It takes practice, patience, and a whole lot of grit. 

The following is a story about a group of people who, in my opinion, have exhibited enough practice, patience, and grit to last a lifetime. 

They are known as “Revitalize Comanche,” and I was recently invited by Board members Kristi Taylor and Beth Martin to share their story with the rest of you. 

Revitalize Comanche Board Members, Beth Martin ( left) and Kristi Taylor ( right)

Revitalize Comanche began a few years ago and was originally made up of a handful of citizens with a vision to assist Comanche, Texas with prospering. From there, it grew exponentially like a snowball into an avalanche, and let me tell you, they have been extremely busy. 
As with most small town efforts, Revitalize Comanche started off with minor, yet badly needed projects such as the beautification around the Historical Comanche Courthouse and installing a Talking Sign to give visitors a glimpse into the history of the area. Not many are aware that Comanche County itself is brimming with stories to be told. Such as harboring an infamous outlaw, being the location of one of the oldest festivals in Texas, or having a larger than usual amount of historical markers one may peruse. 

The initial effort of the community of Comanche even caused some volunteers to branch off in order to create a Christmas light show around the courthouse that rivals that of anything you will see in the big cities. The light show also currently correlates with quite a few more activities in Comanche that the whole family can enjoy each year. 
These activities were followed by a dino exhibit being displayed at the city park and what is known as the creation of Heritage Park which features the Neely Robertson Cabin. This cabin is a structure from the mid 1850’s that was moved to the current site. 

The momentum then hastened shortly after to produce metal artwork seen around town in the form of Buffalos on Hwy 36 and a very ornate Indian Chief located on the historical square. These projects were completed in conjunction with the local AG Dep of Comanche High School. 

Revitalize Comanche is also responsible for creating The Comanche Farmers Market.  An event held at the historical square on the first Saturday of the month. It is an event where you are able to find everything from goat’s milk soap to freshly baked goods and home grown produce. 

Keep in mind that these feats I just mentioned were accomplished by holding local fundraisers and donations from community members. 

This means every bit of what you are reading about was/is/will be done on volunteer time. 

Most recently, Revitalize Comanche had a grant of $33,000 that was just approved for the Native American Hiking Trail. This hiking trail will be complete with native plants that the Comanche Indians would have used for both food sources and medicinal purposes and will be located by the city park. 

Now for one of the best parts of the story….

Three years ago, Revitalize Comanche was approached with a possible donation of a building owned by Higganbothams. This building was located on the historical square and possessed potential for some sort of outreach program and possible revenue stream. At the time, the individuals involved had the idea of turning the space into an educational venue of sorts. Ideas were thrown around, however nothing was really set in stone at the time.  It was right around that same time that they were also offered the furnishing of a vintage soda shop. 

Decisions were made in favor of going ahead and creating a revenue stream and they quickly acted on acquiring the items. Repairs and upgrades were then accomplished by local volunteers ( including a sizeable donation from Garry Luker for the HVAC system.) Thus the Soda Shop and Comanche Mercantile were created and sit side by side of each other on the historical square. 

When you walk into the Soda Shop, you are greeted with 1950’s decor including a phone booth and jukebox along with quite a few delicious options to satisfy any sweet tooth such as splits, malts, shakes, floats, and simple ice cream scoops. They also recently starting serving lunch. The kids will love sitting up at the counter while they enjoy an old fashioned coke float. So, if you are interested in its location and hours, so you can go sit at the counter as well, feel free to visit their Facebook Page for more information.   

Entrance to The Soda Shop

Alas, this story does not end with just ice cream.

Once necessary repairs were made to the larger building, soon to be known as the Comanche Mercantile, the grit of the community really kicked in.

I say this because it amazes me how something can exist because of a collective effort. 

And you can certainly witness this as you walk through the retail space of the Mercantile. There are iron works that were forged by hand that decorate the walls, repurposed tin from a barn that was torn down locally, wood reused from the old high school, and oversized sliding doors that were custom built and sit directly across from the entrance. Those doors also serve as the entrance to the back room where educational classes ( such as homesteading and artistic skills) are held and are available to the public. The space is also utilized for an outreach program that involves working with the special needs students from the local school district. 

There is even a silhouette of an Indian Chief carved in the wall by a renovation volunteer. 

Custom built sliding doors

In addition, the Comanche Mercantile has items for sale from local artisans. This means you are able to find handmade items on consignment such as ink pens fashioned out of recycled wood and my personal favorite, goats milk soap made by Texas Handmade Suds. Most items of which, are not in duplication somewhere else.

This means alot to me when I visit an area because this signals that the items are not mass produced and that the locals take enormous pride in what they do.

In total, the Mercantile provides additional income for close to 40 households in the area. 

With all of the collective volunteer efforts and craftsmanship exhibited, one could say the the Comanche Mercantile could be the tangible form of orchestra music, where everything has come together to create something else for others to enjoy. 

Like I stated earlier …these type of things still let me know that there is good in this world and it should do the same for you.  

I highly suggest you visit this establishment to experience it for yourself. You will be able to find unique and handcrafted items for your loved ones and you really will be supporting local businesses. 

If you are curious to their hours of operation, location, or upcoming workshops they are offering, you can also visit their Facebook Page for more information. 

As for the organization, Revitalize Comanche, they are doing an amazing job and the community is benefiting because of them. They are a 501c3 and can use donations for their next project. If donating to them is something you are interested in, aka, adding your own notes into this symphony, you can also contact them through their website:

Until Next Time,

Sarah Childers

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