Mom-and-pop art supply shop stands test of time

Owner Aaron Williams checks out Colleyville freshman Alyssa McCarn at MC Art Supplies. Jessica Hubble | Multimedia Editor

By Meredith Wagner | Artis & Life Editor

Given their spacing and cohesiveness, it is fairly easy to overlook a house or two driving southwest down Washington Avenue. Being built as close together as they are, the buildings pass as quickly as they appear — though one stands out as Waco’s primary stop for fine art supplies.

The only indication that the house is a business, rather than merely a home, is a large sign in the front yard reading “MC Art Supplies.” Their shop serves as one of many mom-and-pops in Waco that have stood the test of time.

MC Art Supplies has been operating for over 50 years out of the home-turned-business at 2025 Washington Ave. When MC’s existence was threatened by retiring owners Rose and Clyde Bush, current owners Aaron and Jessica Williams were living out of an Airstream travel trailer in Waco. On their third wedding anniversary, Aaron and Jessica signed the papers to their new home in the back of an art supply store, embarking on an adventure they expected in the least.

“I never would have in a million years thought I would be owning a retail business like this, and here we are,” Aaron said. “I love it, though. I wake up and walk 10 feet that way, and I’m at work.”

Having lived with his wife in a small trailer for three years, the transition into the store was no problem. “Not everyone would do it, but this is totally enough for us,” Aaron said about living in the back of the shop. Compared to the Airstream trailer, “This feels like the Taj Mahal.”

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Tabby cat Sienna prowls around MC Art Supplies greeting guests with purrs and meows as they shop. Jessica Hubble | Multimedia Editor

Aaron said his and Jessica’s differing talents and abilities compliment one another’s, making for an ideal partnership both in business and in life.

“I love her so much,” he said. “She’s a good mix of left and right brain. She’s definitely the brains and the beauty behind the operation.”

As for himself, Aaron accredited his social and entrepreneurial personality to his contributions to the business. “I like to make the connections and be that person that people can pop in and say ‘hi’ to,” he said.

As a business owner, Aaron said his priority is to ensure customers feel at home, which is exactly what he said sets them apart as a store.

“People can walk in and feel comfortable, like we’re not just trying to up-sell them or anything,” he said.

Aaron also said they make the shopping experience less overwhelming by offering an assortment of products in a smaller space.

“Hobby Lobby and Michaels — they carry a lot of the stuff we do too — but if you go there, you probably won’t find everything you’re looking for right off the bat,” Aaron said. “We’d like to be that go-to spot that they can say, ‘Oh, everything you need is over there’.”

In addition to providing supplies for the professional artists living in Waco, MC operates in conjunction with Baylor’s art department. When art students need supplies at the beginning of the semester, they make their way down Washington Avenue toward the tiny white home, where Aaron and Jessica have spent hours assembling packages of supplies for each studio class and instructor. The packages include everything students will need throughout the semester.

This, Aaron said, not only benefits himself and Jessica as business owners, but the students as well; MC functions as a reliable resource should students need anything for their classes.

“If a student needs something for class, they should never feel hesitant to reach out to us,” he said, adding that he is passionate about helping artists in general.

“I just love the clientele. Even though I don’t call myself an artist in that way, I really care about like their process and like what they put into it,” he said. “It’s just interesting to contribute to that side of happiness.”

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Jessica Hubble | Multimedia Editor

Waco junior Mack Williams first heard about MC through the art department. As a fine arts major, she quickly developed a relationship with the former owners.

When Mack heard the owners were retiring and likely closing, she reached out to her brother Aaron and his wife Jessica with the information.

“I thought it would be special for them because they’re already a couple, they’re very entrepreneurial, they’re staying in Waco,” she said.

Even though Aaron has a degree in music and Jessica in marketing, to Mack, they were a great fit for the store because of their enthusiasm and passion for their city.

“Aaron is really passionate about Waco,” she said. “His contribution to the art scene will be special.”

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Owner Aaron Williams checks out Colleyville freshman Alyssa McCarn at MC Art Supplies. Jessica Hubble | Multimedia Editor

This is exactly what Aaron said he hopes for himself and his wife. With Waco growing in all directions, Aaron said they are excited to be right in the midst of it.

“We really jumped in at the right place at the right time,” he said. “Of course there’s bigger cities that have more to offer, but I very much am happy to be [in Waco]. It’s not just a fad. I’ve been here, and I love this place. There’s a lot of charm that people don’t realize.”