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Pet store to move out of downtown

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Tosha Aldridge, left, co-owner of Muttley Crew, shows Brooklyn Ezzell the glass in an antique door window on Friday at the business's new location in Westridge Village Shopping Center. The store will be occupying the building which once housed the AAA Carolinas office and at one time was part of the train station in Nashville prior to being moved to Rocky Mount.

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BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Staff Writer

Saturday, February 23, 2019

A specialty store for dogs is leaving downtown Rocky Mount after only a year in business for a larger place just off the busy junction of Sunset and Winstead avenues on the northwest side of the city.

Tosha Aldridge, 40, co-owner of Muttley Crew, said the store is going to shift from a suite at Station Square off Nash Street to what had been an empty building on the east side of the Westridge Village Shopping Center. Aldridge said the new location is set to open on April 1.

Muttley Crew carries a large selection of dog food, treats and toys people aren’t going to find locally. The business also offers dog training and dog owners a chance to bathe their dogs in the pet store’s self-bathing room.

Aldridge was quick to cite two reasons for the decision to make the move: Her belief that downtown Rocky Mount isn't re-developing at the pace as was being proclaimed when Muttley Crew first opened and that the business needs more space to be able to serve customers.

The new location offers approximately 3,000 square feet of space compared to Muttley Crew's present approximately 1,200 square feet of space.

Aldridge said the decision to move was somewhat a case of both downtown not progressing as she would like and a general condition of dilapidated or abandoned areas downtown.

She noted the presence of Bin & Barrel Wine Bar and Bottles and the soon-to-be open Bel Air Arts Center, but she also noted, "There are a lot of buildings up and down Main Street that need some work."

"I mean, downtown could be a really great area," she said.

She said, however, she believes there's a lot of focus on specific areas, an example being the Rocky Mount Event Center, instead of downtown as a whole.

"And for everybody to be successful, you need a broad variety of businesses," she said. "And you need a reason for people to come down here.”

She said right now, there's not a lot to do downtown, plus there’s a stigma of downtown being a rough area in the eyes of many people.

"And so it's like most of the time when people do come, they're making a special effort to come to either us or one of the other stores," she said.

City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney said in a prepared statement through city spokeswoman Tameka Kenan-Norman that the city council has and continues to focus on revitalization of the downtown area with successful projects like Streetscape, renovation of the Douglas Block and construction of the Event Center as well as programs and grants for downtown business owners.

Small-Toney also referred to the council recently approving a letter of intent with a developer from Tennessee, David Hunt, who wants to build a brand-name hotel next to the Event Center, along with a 660-space parking garage at Goldleaf Street and Atlantic Avenue.

“We currently have successful businesses in our downtown area with more to come,” Small-Toney said in the statement.

Muttley Crew is going to be moving into what for a time was the AAA travel agency and what more recently had been the Nash County Republican Party headquarters.

And Muttley Crew is going to be in a good position to draw lots of traffic in the Sunset-Winstead area.

State Transportation Department data shows the average daily count of vehicles to be 22,000 on Sunset just east of the junction of Winstead.

The data also shows the count to be 20,000 on the part of Winstead just north of the junction of Sunset and 12,000 on the part of Winstead just south of the junction.

"For the most part, Sunset and Winstead is one of the busier intersections in town — and at some point, almost everybody seems to come through it," Aldridge said.

Muttley Crew presently is open from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.

Aldridge indicated the business hours may have to be adjusted after the relocation,

"We probably will be open a little later in the afternoons," she said.

The business can be reached at 252-452-1444.

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