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Fuquay-Varina Faces Impending Wal-Mart Invasion

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FUQUAY-VARINA — Town leaders in Fuquay-Varina have a sensitive economic balancing act on their hands. Local business owners met on Thursday to discuss their future in the face of a superstore society.

Fuquay-Varina is caught in the classic American struggle: the urge to preserve and respect its Main Street character is conflicting with plans for big economic growth.

"I've seen this place grow from what my dad refers to as a little backwater, hick town to a pretty good-sized town," says store clerk Erik Jones.

A pasture land west of Highway 401 is the future site of a super Wal-Mart. It is a shopping opportunity Fuquay-Varina residents like Cynthia Kaylor have been seeking.

"I always have to drive to Cary or Garner to go to Wal-Mart," Kaylor says. "To have it in the area is such a blessing."

Town leaders met with merchants who could be vulnerable to Wal-Mart's appeal and to discuss strategies to help them survive and thrive.

Lorraine Dotson is one of those merchants. Her Fuquay Sports Shop has drawn loyal customers in its two years downtown. Now she is preparing to take on Wal-Mart.

"We have to find our niche and continue to focus on customer service and quality products," Dotson says.

At Hyphen Coffeehouse, confidence pours from business owner Kurt Fortmeyer. He trusts that character can coexist with progress.

"I can tell you this, Wal-Mart's not going to run me out of business," Fortmeyer says.

Downtown Fuquay-Varina merchants are hoping to win a government grant to help them re-landscape and revitalize Main Street. They are counting on specialty stores and consumer loyalty to compete with the new Wal-Mart.