WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - It’s been a ho-hum holiday for many local business owners this Christmas season. The blame isn’t being placed on the economy, it’s being placed on Florence.
Connie Lincoln’s shop, “Manifest Design” is having its last day downtown.
“I love it here, I always have and I always will,” said Lincoln. “The owner of the building has hurricane damage repair. I looked for another space, but I have non-competes in my contracts because of other local merchants. We just decided we had to move.”
That move will be 70 miles south to Myrtle Beach. Connie is saying goodbye to the last six years as a downtown business owner.
“It’s been great to see customers again,” said Dylan Pierce, who works at Port City Java on Front Street.
That store, just north of Market Street, re-opened on Dec. 18 after suffering significant hurricane damage.
“The great thing about downtown, is it’s always changing” said Pierce. “There are new faces now coming in. Many of these people had no idea, at one time, this was a pretty happening spot.”
Drive downtown and you can't help notice the construction and road closures. It's a sign of the future. A future of repairs and growth.
“I’ve been here four years and it’s the Riverwalk that drew me to downtown” says Lindsay Forry. Her shop, Cammillions Boutique specializes in unique women’s clothing and accessories. “I’m not sad. I’m optimistic that people are giving downtown a chance again.”
FuzzLove is a store directly across the hall at 112 Market St. It’s not new to Wilmington. The store relocated a few weeks after Hurricane Florence hit.
“Oh, we’re feeling good, all things considered,” said Colleen Lux as she folded a t-shirt that reads, ‘Don’t tell me this town doesn’t have heart.’
Lux says it’s been good, all things considered. She says she’s lucky to have a store to reopen.
“Oh, my competition hasn’t been another store in town," she said. "It’s been the plumber and the roofer. People have needed their money for simple things to help them get on with their lives.”
The owners of Manifest Design are getting on with their lives as well. For now, their shop will open in Myrtle Beach in time for the new year.
Lincoln may close the door for the last time on Wednesday night, but she’s hoping one day a “window of opportunity” may open to bring her back.
“I love it here," she said. "The downtown is always changing. You’ve got great shops, great restaurants. It’s unfortunate I couldn’t find the space I needed, in the time frame I needed it. Who knows, I could be back. Never say never.”