We love McAlester, Oklahoma. It's a small town where you can really make a difference if you try. Kristen was born and raised in McAlester and has fond memories of roaming our downtown when she was a child. The buildings were full of life. The streets were a place to visit with friends and learn the latest gossip. But like most towns, all that changed when the bypass was built and the big box stores moved in. Downtown was mostly forgotten. 😪
When we opened our photography studio in 2000 we knew we wanted to be downtown. We were just married and didn't have much, but with our parents co-signing, we bought a building at 113 E Choctaw Ave. Our business grew along side our love for Downtown McAlester. As our business grew, so did our family. Sydney was born in 2002 and Brenner in 2005.
In 2007 we bought an old tire shop that was vacant on the corner of 1st and Choctaw Ave. We renovated the building and moved our studio into this bigger location. The building was also big enough to lease out 2 other spaces. We continued to grow.
We eventually sold this building and moved back into our original location at 113 E Choctaw. Then one fateful day it happened. The shoe store next door had been closed for a while and the owner was cleaning out the building. It was one of the original buildings on the block that dated back to 1905. Kristen asked me to go next door and see if he would sell the building, so I did, and within 20 minutes we had agreed on a price and shook hands. We were excited to get to rescue another building downtown!
We knew we wanted to bring the building back to original as much as possible. As we peeled back the layers, it was like the building was telling us what it wanted to be. We were excited to find the original tin ceiling above the drop ceiling. We went back to the original sandstone walls. As we worked on the building, we came up with the name. COMMON ROOTS. The building is rooted in McAlester. We are rooted in McAlester. Generations before us grew McAlester and left us with a rich history. What we do here will continue on after we are gone.
We also thought of the story of the pine tree on Grand Avenue. Next to the first log cabin built in South McAlester (current Downtown McAlester) there was a pine tree. As the city grew around it and the trees were cleared for buildings, this single pine was spared the axe. When Grand Avenue was paved in 1916 they paved around it. It stood as a reminder that as things change in the present, we must always remember those that laid the groundwork before us. Common Roots restoration is an attempt to move McAlester forward as well as preserve our past. So when you see the pinecone in our logo, you will know its meaning.
We opened Common Roots in October of 2014. Like the mercantile stores of the past, we carry a wide variety of things. We're sure you will find something you love, whether you are looking for a special gift or shopping for yourself. We also have over 30 flavors of ICE COLD glass bottled soda and sweet treats to enjoy while you shop.
What will we do next? Who knows where this downtown journey will take us. One thing we know is this: Common Roots is more than just a store to us. It's a part of a continued journey to make McAlester Oklahoma a better place to live. It's not always easy taking broken things and mending them, but to us it's worth it.
Come by and see us or shop our online store and be part of our story.
Kristen and Micky Lloyd