Local News

Tarboro Businesses Wait For Customers to Return

Posted October 10, 1999

— Flood victims down east lost their homes and, in some cases, their jobs. Many business owners have since reopened, but attracting customers is another story.

One store in downtown Tarboro is racing against time. Employees are hoping to reopen this weekend before the holiday shopping season approaches.

They lost thousands in merchandise, and every day the store is closed, they are losing money.

"That's the golden quarter for any retailer, and of course we want to be open. It's always been a good store for us. We want to be here and sell everything we can and help out everybody we can," said Andy Jones, special projects manager.

It is still a work-in-progress, but most of downtown Tarboro is open for business.

Except for the carpet, John Dupree's shoe store is doing OK. The trouble is that small businesses need money to jump-start their sales again.

Dupree says many merchants cannot afford another loan.

"For some of the merchants downtown, a grant would really help out. Some of them have put in everything they had to open a business. Another payment like a loan on top of that would be tough," said Dupree.

Besides money, some say the biggest obstacle is public perception. Things were so bad that shoppers assume the stores are still closed.

Businesses have to convince customers to come back.

"They are thinking it will take us weeks or months to get back open. However, we're ready for business. We're ready for them to know we're in business," said business owner Donna Webb.

Most store owners did not have flood insurance, but many of them were able to pump the water out of their businesses.

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