Boom Town: Carthage Seeing Flood of New Businesses
The mayor of Carthage sees the beginnings of a boom for his town.
“We have the new beauty salon, the new Japanese restaurant,” Mayor Lee McGraw said. “The new credit union office should be open by August. We will have Walmart Express, Bojangles’.
“The more places we have here that people want to go to, the more they will go to other places while they are here.”
Hot Mess, a hair and tanning salon, opened a month ago — its name an urban slang phrase for somebody in a state of disarray but having an undeniable attractiveness or beauty.
The term might apply to the county seat itself — many empty stores downtown, but Carthage seeming to draw a flood of commercial interest.
A new Hibachi Grill restaurant opened last week on Courthouse Square across from Fred’s. It’s been packed from the start.
“My wife and I ate there just the other night,” McGraw said. “The food is delicious.”
On U.S. 15-501, construction is starting on a new State Employees Credit Union center. Contractors will begin clearing land soon for the new Walmart Express expected to open in the fall. It will occupy a spot across one street from the Flying Tiger Chinese restaurant and across another from McDonald’s, near the Food Lion shopping center.
Another chain, Bojangles’, recently approached the county about buying land next to Hardee’s for a new restaurant near the intersection of N.C. 24-27 and U.S. 15-501. Some veterans groups objected to a restaurant being next door to the Veterans Memorial. That location would not bother McGraw.
“I am going to tell you, nobody I want to hang out with has any intention of not paying proper respect to our veterans,” McGraw said. “But the more things around that memorial, the more it will be seen. They didn’t put it way out in the country somewhere, but in Carthage, where it could be seen.”
McGraw expects 20 to 25 new jobs would come with Bojangles’ — and more with every new enterprise.
Another Carthage tract is under contract as the location for a new O’Reilly Auto Parts store, and the broker handling that sale is talking to other companies about pads on that property.
O’Reilly Auto Parts is the third largest auto parts chain in the country, nipping at the heels of AutoZone and Advance Auto.
Commercial real estate broker Bill Brower is handling the deal and says he expects everything to close by October, if not before.
“We’ve got a 140-day due diligence period,” Brower said. “The developers are encouraging me to sell pads around O’Reilly’s, so I’m talking to companies like restaurant chains to find tenant neighbors for O’Reilly’s. I think they are going to come off really well selling those pads off around O’Reilly’s.”
The company has nearly 3,500 stores nationwide — the closest in Sanford — and a distribution center in Greensboro. Their interest in Carthage is one sign of a growing wave, as Brower sees it.
“They’ve done their homework as far as the market goes,” he said. “What I am working on now for that piece has to do with things like stage one environmental studies, warranty deeds, zoning, confirmation letters, paid property tax bills — things like that that they just want to know about.”
He and Ed Lillard visited a Walmart Express just north of Albemarle.
“It is in a little town like Carthage, perhaps a little smaller — that’s the kind of town they decided to go into,” Brower said. “We went into that store. It is really nice and clean. We were impressed with that store. The prices are the same prices you get if you go to one of those Super Walmart stores. That’s a big deal.”
Brower has other properties in Carthage under contract and has been looking for more.
“Now’s the time!” Brower said. “I am excited about Carthage and am doing well there. It is on a lot of people’s radar screen right now, it seems like.”
Town Manager Carol Sparks sees Carthage’s location — where four highways meet and merge — as one thing attracting interest.
“We get phone calls just about every week,” Sparks said. “They ask about different locations. I think maybe the credit union coming has something to do with it. (N.C.) 24-27 is an extremely busy highway. So is (U.S.) 15-501. I’ve been talking to different developers for some time. These are major highways.”
They make Carthage an easy drive from the middle of Greensboro, Raleigh and Fayetteville — and not that far from Charlotte.
“It is an hour from here to RDU,” she said. “It takes less time to drive from here to Raleigh than from one side of Raleigh to the other. We have a lot more military families moving here, because it is an easy drive to the base. If you were on the other side of Fayetteville it could take you longer to get to Fort Bragg than it would from here. Once the credit union is built it is going to open up our highway commercial district out here on 15-501.”
Like McGraw, Sparks is happy about the new Japanese restaurant — another addition to a growing list of popular eating spots.
“I went when they opened,” Sparks said. “I took a guest Saturday night, and there wasn’t an empty table. I talked to the owner, and she said they had a wonderful first week.”
Flying Tiger’s owner Leon Zhang said his tables are crowded these days, and he has hopes for the three extra business spaces available in his new building — particularly once Walmart Express opens across the road.
“I think all this shows a lot of confidence in our location,” McGraw said. “First of all, mom-and-pops like this Japanese place are the heart and soul of our country. I love small businesses. Then you have three national chains that want Carthage. They do their homework. They do their market research and must know Carthage is on the upswing. I am so happy that it is going to go that way.”
Sparks could hardly be more in agreement.
“There is a boom in Carthage,” Sparks said. “I can’t help but feel that.”
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or by email at email@example.com.
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