SHELBY ─ Tony and Bev Hall see the Black Fork Commons Mercantile and The Well Coffee Shop as more than a business.
It is their promise to the city.
Tony, who also owns County Auto Sales on Ohio 39, said the family traveled and sang gospel music from 1990 to 2006 around the country.
“We’d go through these little towns and it would just break your heart because you’d see all these storefronts empty,” he said.
They knew in their hearts that someday, they would like to do something for their town, Tony said.
“Not knowing that we’re going to be over 60 (when we do it),” Bev said with a laugh.
When the storefront at 24 W. Main St. was for sale a few years ago, the couple said they decided to purchase it because they are “not getting younger”.
They planned to open the business last year until the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the project, Tony said, but it also gave them more time to make the place homier. The business opened its door on July 8.
When entering the mercantile, customers will find everything from children’s and women’s clothing to jewelry and toys. Even the owners’ three grandchildren who live in New York sell their handmade products at the store.
Bev said Madelyn, Amazra and Yetshama Dyer, 15, 13 and 5, used their money to buy the material and make products such as tooth fairy pillows and twisty headbands.
In addition to coffee, The Well Coffee Shop offers soft drinks and baked goods, Tony said. There is a piano with more than 100 years of history in the dining area. The owners said it came with the space when they bought it. They had it tuned so that customers and their daughter Lyndsey, who they said has a gift in music, can play on it.
Tony encouraged people to check the mural on the side of the building when visiting the business. The art piece contains a brief description of Shelby’s history, a Shelby bicycle and a well.
Tony said the well was the focal point in small towns hundreds of years ago. Residents would gather around and talk about everything when drawing water. Biblically, the well also symbolizes a place where people can come in, enjoying the time, and be refreshed, Tony said. That is why they, as a Christian family, named the shop The Well Coffee Shop.
The owners said they want to “bring Shelby back” and let more people know about the city’s history.
“A lot of people don’t realize what a great town Shelby is and what a great asset Shelby is to Ohio,” Tony said.
He said the Shelby Cycle Company, which closed its factory in 1953, once manufactured more than 200,000 bicycles every year. And there is the Shelby light bulb burning for over 120 years in Livermore, California.
Black Fork Commons Mercantile is doing trivia questions about Shelby on its Facebook page, Tony said. For example, the question for Monday was “Who was Shelby’s first mayor?” The owner said the first person who answers it correctly will get a free cup of coffee.