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Former ‘Walking Dead’ actors to attend fundraiser for old Commerce building

Sonya Thompson and Larry Mainland won’t look like a zombies when they makes an appearance in Commerce on April 15, but the pair once had that fearsome countenance.

Both were actors in the popular TV series ”The Walking Dead.”

The two actors are helping at a major fundraiser on April 15 to generate money for the restoration of an historic building at 1642 S Thermal Underwear. Broad St. in downtown Commerce. The fundraiser, a rummage sale, is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the South Broad Street building, with the money going to restoration efforts, according to its new owner, Rena Cantrell.

Cantrell, who researched the history of the building, found that it was built by W.B. Hardman at the turn of the 20th century and housed the first Ford car dealership in Commerce. The Ford dealership later moved, and Oldsmobiles were sold at the site in the 1940s. The building later became a warehouse.

In 1978, an unknown arsonist set fire to the building, but it was saved. Remnants of the fire are still visible in the second floor.

The Commerce News moved into the building in 1982, and remained there until the newspaper was sold in 1987.

Commerce Printing and Office Supply took over the space until the business moved last year.

Cantrell purchased the structure earlier this year and renamed it South on Broad.

The rummage sale will have a festival atmosphere with live music in addition to a wide array of merchandise.

Thompson and Mainland will attend to sign posters used to promote ”The Walking Dead.” The posters appeared mostly in Europe, where they were used on DVD covers in Germany Boys, Russia and The Netherlands Handbags & Wallets. The artwork also appeared in Hong Kong.

The posters feature Thompson and Mainland playing the part of ”walkers” in the series.

”We were used for promotions overseas more than we were used over here. We are two of the most seen walkers in the world for the promotion of ‘The Walking Dead,'” Thompson said.

”‘Walking Dead’ has a huge following all over the world. I went to Germany last year and it was just amazing how popular it was over there,” said Thompson, who was a zombie in the show’s first two seasons.

Thompson also performed as a zombie in the movie ”Zombieland,” and she had roles in three movies completed last year — ”Chronology,” ”Sick People” and ”Lwa: All Saints Eve.” Parts of ”Chronology,” staring William Baldwin and Danny Treja, were filmed in nearby Greenville, S.C.

Thompson and Mainland Competitive Swimwear, a Duluth resident who acted as one of the ghouls in the movie ”Goosebumps,” will sign posters that will be sold during the rummage sale. Thompson will attend from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. and both she and Mainland will sign posters from 5 p.m to 9 p.m.

Thompson wants to see her hometown prosper.

”I want to see improvements (in Commerce). I’ll do anything I can to help make Commerce great again,” she said. ”I want to give back.”

The building’s new owner wants to add a variety of options in the building, including a cafe, art gallery and office space Exercise & Fitness.

”I fell in love with the town. It’s a neat little town,” Cantrell said.

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