Karson Tutt has carved out quite a stylish niche for herself amid the bustling of restaurants, retail and corporate offices that make up downtown Abilene.
Opened in October 2020 and occupying almost 2,000 square feet of ground-floor space in the Motis Building, Karson’s and The Commons is part upscale, on-trend retail and part co-op.
As welcome as her store is on the downtown landscape, this newly-minted Abilene Christian University graduate hadn’t planned on her “college job” becoming a career.
But it was all thanks to a broken phone that set Karson on the path as an entrepreneur.
“When I was in high school I broke my phone and my parents said I had to pay for a new one, so I started making and selling necklaces,” she said. “I posted them online and ended up getting some orders and making money. I created a website and eventually started selling the jewelry in person and at pop-up events.”
It was during the Covid-19 lockdown, that Karson knew she had stumbled upon a promising business.
“Since my classes were all online, I had time to really grow my web presence – and it took off and did really well,” she said.
“I saw a “For Lease” sign at the Motis Building and started thinking about the possibility of opening a retail space,” she said. “I sat in my car crunching numbers then drove home and told my parents that I was going to open a store.”
Originally, Karson only leased an 850 square foot area for her retail shop, but when her landlord asked if she would be interested in the space next door, she jumped at the chance – even though at the time she didn’t quite know what purpose it would serve.
An idea quickly materialized however.
“Since I had this extra space, I thought it would be really cool to give other people an area to sell their products,” she said. “There was a lot of interest right away and in January I opened The Commons with nine vendors, all of whom pay a flat fee to sell their products.”
Karson, who graduated with a degree in Business Management, says she “enjoys being creative and artsy,” and while most of her store features clothing, she also sells jewelry – some of which she makes herself – as well as gift items such as candles and journals.
An especially fun and popular item is edible drink glitter, which is sold in a variety colors and can add a touch of sparkle to any beverage.
Customers who want more than just a shopping experience can also try their hands at different seasonal craft projects such as jewelry-making, canvas painting, or create-your-own face masks.
“Downtown Abilene is just getting cooler and cooler by the year and this location definitely played a role in my opening the store,” she said. “I feel like everyone down here really has a stake in keeping this area vibrant. It’s a lot of fun and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Instagram: shop.karsons or the.commons.karsons
202 Pine Street, Suite 103
M-F 10-6; Sat. 10-8; Sun 2-6
By Molly Hill