Local News

Tarboro Store Owners Say Sales Fared Well This Year, Despite Floyd

Posted December 26, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST

— Merchants in downtown Tarboro were busy Monday restocking their shelves after the holiday rush.

While the end of the year is the time most retailers really make their profits, many business owners in eastern North Carolina still trying to recover from the damage of Hurricane Floyd found themselves surprised by holiday sales this year.

Mandy Pressley still cannot believe how well the shopping season is wrapping up. Her Tarboro Maxway store was closed for nearly a month after the flood, but the shoppers returned.

In spite of everything, she says this year's sales were almost as high as last year's.

"We did very well," Pressley said. "We were surprised because during the flood we lost a lot of customers from Princeville. But we did very well; it actually balanced out to the year before."

The September flood hit almost every single store in Tarboro's downtown shopping district. Business owners had to work overtime to be able to reopen for holiday shoppers, such as Eva Brown, who was anxious to return to her favorite stores.

"It's got a good buy," says Brown. "I just like coming in here. I get all my household supplies, and they have nice-quality things I like."

Across the street from the Maxway store, at Bryan Drugs, the retail side of the store did well, though prescriptions are down. Most of the store's customers are temporarily living in other areas. The store expects medicine sales to rebound as people return to their homes.

"We're not hurting by any means," says merchant Sundae Dew. "We're just making it and slowly increasing the clientele we once had, and getting back to normal."

The leading indicator that the retail season may have been much better than anyone expected may be the fact that many of the businesses in downtown Tarboro stuck with tradition and stayed closed Monday. Only a handful of businesses were open.

Being comparable to the previous year, however, does not mean any of the stores met or exceeded sales from 1998, but they say it is a lot better than what anyone thought would happen.

One Tarboro store owner said she believes that people actually spent a little more than they usually would have just to try to rebuild the community.

Many of the stores were closed for a month or more before they were able to reopen. Many made it in mid-October, just in time for the holiday shopping season to begin.