Local News

Highway 64 Keeps Wendell Booming

Posted October 3, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Walking through downtown Wendell is like walking through the mythical hometown of Mayberry. Mayberry did not have any big discount chain stores, just local family owned businesses. In Wendell, many of those businesses have stayed in the family for several generations.

"Wendell, like most small towns in North Carolina was originally founded on the railroad," said Larry Perry, store owner.

Wendell grew with the railroad and Interstate 64 helped keep it alive. Downtown business owners said the best part about the highway is that it's two and half miles away.

On Wendell's streets there are none of the big name chain stores of most interstate towns, just the same old names people have known for years and years.

R.B. Whitley built several businesses and sold them to local families who still run them today. Perry's hardware store was one of those.

Perry's dad bought Whitley's General Merchandise 38 years ago. Perry's Hardware has changed with the times, but much is still the same.

"Each of the men that come in and they like their own individual chair, none of the chair's where we're setting at are matching sets," said Perry.

Some days, folks will actually buy something.

"Quite frankly, I prefer to shop where people know me by my first name," said Marshburn.

The Perry's know Wendell is growing so they depend on old-fashioned advertising.

That's how most businesses run in downtown Wendell, by word of mouth. And also, just by being in the right place and staying there.

Downtown Wendell does have a few new kids on the block. A computer software company calls Main Street home and a few new restaurants keep downtown patrons well fed.