Downtown Raleigh rallies behind Briggs Hardware owner as she cares for fiancé
Posted June 23
Raleigh, N.C. — The owner of Raleigh’s historic Briggs Hardware is grateful for the kindness of others after her fiancé suffered a devastating burn injury last month.
It has been a difficult four weeks for Evelyn Murray, who has managed to keep the historic store open while caring for her fiancé, Stu Davis.
“It was all I could do to sit here during the day and be strong for my customers,” she said.
During Memorial Day weekend, Davis was preparing to fry some fish when he reached up to grab something and the pot of hot oil tipped over and spilled on his legs and feet. He suffered third-degree burns as a result of the accident.
“When someone is in that much pain and there’s absolutely nothing you can do, you feel really helpless,” Murray said.
Davis isn’t just Murray’s partner in love; he is her partner in business. As the handyman at Briggs, he accounts for about 70 percent of the hardware store’s revenue.
“Without that income, I was really fearful because the bills kept coming. We still had to make rent for the hardware store and you’ve got to pay the bills at home and I couldn’t afford part time help,” Murray said.
Murray was concerned she could lose the business, as Davis did not have insurance and medical bills began to mount. The couple wound up being overwhelmed by the kindness of others, including complete strangers.
“I’ve even had some of the homeless people down here reach in and get their last quarter and put it in the jar,” Murray said. “They’ll come in and Stu will fix their bikes and mopeds for free. They all appreciate what he’s done for the downtown community.”
The owners of the Read With Me bookstore, Jonathan and Christine Brenner, also did what they could to help their neighbors.
“We set up some collections to collect money for them and watch the store for them when we could,” Brenner said.
Murray said the support has sustained her and Davis and keeps them strong as they prepare for their wedding in two weeks.
“He’s probably the strongest man I know,” Murray said. “He has persevered and it also shows me how much he loves me to fight so hard to make it to our wedding day.”
Murray said the couple considered postponing the wedding, but nurses at the Jaycee Burn Center said the date has given Davis hope and something to strive for in his recovery.
“At 55, to find the love of your life is a miracle in and of itself and I don’t think any of this tragedy can destroy that. If anything, it made it stronger,” Murray said.