Cash boost could help startup retail shops in Raleigh

Posted August 18, 2015 6:01 p.m. EDT
Updated August 18, 2015 6:49 p.m. EDT

— When Briggs Hardware closed last month, owner Evelyn Murray realized how hard it was to say goodbye to a 150-year-old institution.

“It was afterwards that I started thinking about my mom and my ancestors in downtown Raleigh,” she said.

So, she’s bringing back Briggs, starting from scratch on East Hargett Street between Wilmington and Blount streets. She’s learning just how expensive it is to start a new retail shop.

“It's been a little overwhelming how much it does cost and how much time it takes to get it all together,” Murray said.

Residential growth is booming in downtown Raleigh, where there’s also a lot of nightlife and restaurants. Now, officials want to give retail a shot in the arm.

“It's sort of the riskiest of all the business types,” said Bill King, economic development director of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

The organization has launched a new grant program to try to speed retail growth downtown. New retail shops or major expansions could get up to $5,000 to help with remodeling costs.

“The idea is, if we help them with those costs, which are very expensive startup costs, they can invest that money in other aspects of their business,” King said.

Murray has applied for one of the grants to help launch the new Briggs Hardware. She's glad downtown advocates are focusing on bringing more shopping options to the heart of Raleigh.

“We want it to be friendly for the residents and a destination place for everybody in Raleigh,” King said. “It should be heartbeat of the city.”

Murray said her new store could open as early as next week, but a grand opening is scheduled for Sept. 2.

The new location is smaller, but Murray plans to carry a broad inventory, including items that cater to the unique downtown market. Murray said she would have supplies for contractors working on nearby projects and also for event organizers who sometimes need supplies quickly during weekend festivals and concerts.