Although a number of closings, relocations and business changes have occurred recently in Fuquay-Varina, it’s not necessarily a sign of a poor economy.
The closing (or announced closing) of eight different retail establishments in the past several months has generated a buzz of concern on Facebook and around town. Many see this as a trend, and are voicing concerns about Fuquay-Varina’s future, but there are extenuating circumstances involved with many of the businesses.
Fuquay Sports Shop closed earlier this year because the owners wanted to move to Asheville to be closer to their children.
Elliotts Pharmacy closed because the Hollemans decided to retire and they had been unable to access all of the property needed for a drive-thru, which would have improved service for their customers.
Mutt and Tabby and Strafe Gaming Lounge closed because of leasing changes.
Stephens Hardware closed its doors several months ago when owners chose to get out of the hardware business and concentrate on new uses for the space. Several businesses have moved into the facility and more activity is expected there in the near future.
Varina Soap and Candle Shop closed, but moved merchandise into a space at Shoppes on Main in the downtown Fuquay retail district.
Walt’s Guitars closed, in part due to the owner’s health problems, but also because Walt Wetherington is building a studio and store on his own property.
Cooley’s Restaurant moved from downtown Fuquay to “the Link” behind Ashley’s Art Gallery, and the old site has been vacant for some time. A new tenant has been signed for that location, however, and an announcement should be made soon about the new establishment that will be taking residence at the corner of South Main and Vance Streets.
The Vine is moving to Varina Station, which looks to be an advantage for the business.
My Back Porch has relocated to a bigger space on North Main Street, next to Back in Action Physical Therapy, and a children’s consignment shop is expected to open in their old space in the Varina retail district.
The Lazy Lion Used Bookstore is closing in August after struggling to stay in business for several years.
Fuquay-Varina Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tommy Broadwell believes the “future is bright” for several reasons.
The completion of the southern expressway is expected to have a big impact on Fuquay-Varina. Although the actual work to start the building of it is more than a few years away, this road will increase commerce, population and industry. It also should make the commute to work outside of Fuquay-Varina more convenient.
With the closings have come a number of openings throughout the town as well.
The Meeting Corner, in the Fuquay retail district, offers a variety of Caribbean and Puerto Rican dishes with some vegan options, as well as a store with a variety of goods. On the opposite side of the street and down a block, Cape Fear Gifts and Handcrafts has unique gifts made by local artisans.
Anna’s Pizzeria has moved into town across from Stick Boy Bread Co., and it has become a hot spot for lunch and evening activities.
Broadwell said the efforts by the new restaurant planning to open in the old Cooley’s location are “moving along well and have progressed further than any previous applicants.”
In the last three years, the Chamber of Commerce has gained more members than they have lost. Four new businesses scheduled ribbon cuttings through the Chamber of Commerce just in the last month.
The new Marquee Station residential/commercial development on 401S will have 265 “Class A” apartments with six commercial lots for businesses, which should bring more business and revenue to the town.
Two new Sheetz service stations open in 2013, with the McCullers Crossroads location already operating and the Banks Road location opening later this year.
Universal Health Care has been taking applications to fill more than 100 positions with an opening planned in November for their new facility on Judd Parkway.
Another boost to the community is the opening of the Central Harnett Hospital (including a dental clinic) and the new medical school at Campbell University—both in nearby northern Harnett County. Professors, doctors and medical students are moving into Fuquay-Varina as a result of these two new endeavors.
Broadwell said home sales have picked up as well. Building contracts with national and custom builders have been on the rise.
“The inventory of houses and lots on the market has gone down,” Broadwell said. “Builders are looking for raw land now. Wake County is poised for tremendous growth over the next 10-15 years.”
Larger companies have become more engaged in the Chamber of Commerce recently, after a period of inactivity during the recession.
Campbell University and John Deere both have representatives on the Chamber’s Board of Directors, and TE Connectivity and Southbend are regular attendees at Chamber events.
Fuquay-Varina Economic Development Director Jim Seymour started an Ombudsman Program that shepherds new businesses through the town’s requirements for opening a location. The FV Economic Development Commission partnered with the Chamber of Commerce to start the “50/50 program,” which focuses half of its attention on helping existing businesses and the other half on large industries.
“Our town is approaching critical mass as far as incoming national chains are concerned,” Broadwell said.
To ease the start-up and growth process of new businesses, the Chamber started offering free business counseling by SCORE volunteers, who provide expertise on a wide variety of business issues and challenges.