Mural Honors Local Heroes
If you’ve traveled down Cheney Highway in Titusville recently, you’ve likely noticed a blue building with a patriotic mural covering its west wall. Locals and visitors are stopping to get a closer look and take selfies with the artwork created by Tampa artist Aaron Evans. And if you venture inside the store, owner Amer Hatoum is happy to share the inspiration behind it.
Hatoum said he wanted the mural on the side of his military surplus store Gear Up! to honor the local heroes who protect and serve our community every day. It’s dedicated to those who serve in fire and emergency medical services, police, Air Force, Army, Marine Corp, Navy, Coast Guard and the latest, United States Space Force.
“The most important thought is being able to be a place for citizens and first responders to come locally to get the essentials they need,” Hatoum said. “I feel small businesses are the backbone of this country and I didn’t want to let another one close its doors.
That backbone is strong in Hatoum’s family, both in business and military service. The Gear Up! building was once the Dari Delite ice cream shop owned by his father, who immigrated from Lebanon and grew up in Titusville. His mother’s father, born in Arkansas and the son of a Middle Eastern immigrant, owned surplus stores in Texas and was a World War II veteran.
His mother started what is now Gear Up! in Titusville in 2009 after the family was impacted by the recession. Having grown up with the business, a deep respect for servicemembers and devotion to family, Hatoum felt called to continue the tradition and legacy.
Newly rebranded as “Gear Up!,” the military and paramilitary surplus store offers products to the public as well as special order services for fire, police, and all branches of service including the newly minted Space Force.
It also caters to outdoor adventurers with high quality recreational and survival equipment.
Surrounding the vast inventory is a growing collection of nostalgia on display. Photographs that span decades cover the Wall of Honor, something Hatoum wants to add to.
Hatoum plans to grow the business so he can further share his passion. Gear Up! soon will have its own branded clothing line, and he plans to add a second store in southern Brevard later this year.
He also is happy to assist with special orders for groups, allowing the local heroes he honors in the mural to keep their business local. Shirts, hats, boots, vests, unit patches, personal self-defense items and new Space Force branded items are some of the categories available through Gear Up!
“With online shopping hurting so many small businesses, I feel that shopping local at brick and mortar businesses is still critical,” Hatoum said. “Whatever the occasion… we remain an outlet for people to Gear Up.”
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