Longtime downtown store to move

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Towel Town owner Cindy Coker unpacks an order of lampshades Tuesday at the business in downtown Rocky Mount.


Staff Writer

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A longtime business in the heart of downtown Rocky Mount is apparently planning to pull out for a place somewhere else in the city with a better potential to draw customers and to be in a smaller location.

Cindy Coker, co-owner of Towel Town at 248 S.W. Main St., said the store building is under contract, meaning she has secured a buyer after having put the property on the market.

“We’re just waiting to finish the finalizing of the papers,” Coker said.

Although Coker declined to identify the purchaser and the agreed-on price, details about the building being for sale have been posted on the Chambliss & Rabil real estate website. The asking price has been posted as $439,346.

“We just need to get out where there’s more traffic,” Coker said.

She said there is no traffic downtown and said Towel Town today is “off the beaten path.” She said except for three or four businesses, there is nobody else downtown to go to.

“I’m a destination stop,” she said.

Towel Town sells home accessories, bird feeders, gifts, flags and lampshades and also makes and repairs lamps and polishes brass and silver.

Towel Town’s intent to pull out of Rocky Mount's once-bustling central business district comes as the store approaches the 50-year mark of being downtown.

Coker said 30 of those years have been at the northwest corner of Southwest Main and Nash streets. That location was once the Rocky Mount Belk-Tyler department store building.

Coker said Towel Town had previously been in two different downtown locations along Sunset Avenue.

As for how much longer Towel Town is going to remain along Southwest Main and where the store is going to relocate, she said the answers to those questions remain unknown.

“We think it’s somewhere down Sunset, Winstead — out in that area,” Coker said, “but we’re not sure because we haven't found a place yet.”

Additionally, she emphasized part of her bottom line in selling the building downtown is a need to operate in less space.

"We have 46,000 square feet — and I no longer need 46,000 square feet," she said.

Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Farris said he knew the Towel Town building had been on the real estate market, but he said he did not know of Coker’s plans.

Farris said Towel Town is a destination “and, frankly, most stores are.”

As for Coker’s situation, Farris noted 46,000 square feet for a store in this day and time is a lot to heat, cool and maintain.

He said the Chamber’s hope is the sale of the Towel Town building is going to work and the purchaser of the building is going to make necessary repairs and refresh and re-purpose the structure.

He had kind words for Coker and Towel Town.

“I’m delighted that she’s going to continue her business because I know they have a great customer base,” he said. “And they offer a lot of things that people just can’t find anywhere else under one roof.”

Towel Town is not going to be the only business to bid farewell to downtown Rocky Mount in 2019.

Muttley Crew, a specialty store for dogs, recently relocated from a suite in the Station Square business and professional complex along Nash Street to the Westridge Shopping Center.

Tosha Aldridge, co-owner of Muttley Crew, said people keep talking about wanting downtown to grow and said downtown can be a great place.

“But it’s not going to be a great place until all the powers that be want to create an environment for everybody — not one race, not one age bracket, one gender,” Aldridge said.

“You’ve got to create an area that everybody wants to come to,” she said. “And it’s not happening.”

She has said her decision to move Muttley Crew was somewhat a case of both downtown not progressing as she would like and a general condition of dilapidated or abandoned areas downtown.

She said there are a lot things to go look at downtown.

“But you need businesses to be down there,” she said. “And until something changes, I don’t foresee it growing like it should.”