Carrboro Commons

Businesses move up and out to Chapel Hill

Posted on September 22nd, 2010 in Economy by jock

By Gloria Lloyd
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

For many years, Carrboro was home to a quirky pet boutique, Phydeaux, and a cozy quilting shop, Thimble Pleasures. However, in the past two years both stores have expanded their space and increased their business by moving to Elliott Road in Chapel Hill. In addition, the Chapel Hill-based retail chain Performance Bicycle moved its downtown Carrboro store to Eastgate Shopping Center in Chapel Hill in winter 2008.

With its new location next to coffee shop 3 Cups in a bustling Chapel Hill shopping center, Thimble Pleasures has increased its business since moving from Carrboro. (Staff photo by Gloria Lloyd)

Longtime Phydeaux employee Amanda Ashley, who ran for mayor of Carrboro in 2009, said that Phydeaux was “pushed, so to speak” to look for space in Chapel Hill when larger development space wasn’t available for lease in Carrboro.

Carrboro economic development director James Harris attributed Phydeaux’s 2008 move to the need to expand a thriving business. Phydeaux was originally established in its downtown Carrboro location with assistance from the Carrboro town government’s revolving loan fund.

When asked whether this represents a trend, Harris replied, “It’s a trend among all businesses in Orange County. Whenever they outgrow space here, and we don’t have anything available, they move to where it is available.”

Center fights for Carrboro day laborers’ human rights

Posted on February 18th, 2010 in Economy,Employment,Features,Latino Issues,Town government by jock

By Latisha Catchatoorian

Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

On a sunny, yet chilly day, Latino men are huddled outside of Abbey Court Condominiums or the BP gas station across the street on Jones Ferry Road.  Some of these day laborers are residents of Abbey Court, which also serves as the location of The Chapel Hill and Carrboro Human Rights Center, led by Director Judith Blau.

Alfonso Hernandez, 19, a volunteer at the Chapel Hill and Carrboro Human Rights Center, shows some members of the local Latino population.  The Center focuses on helping the community as a whole, not restricted to just Latinos or any other group. Recently, protection of day laborers and their rights has been a focus of the Center. Staff Photo By Latisha Catchatoorian

Alfonso Hernandez, 19, a volunteer at the Chapel Hill and Carrboro Human Rights Center, shows some members of the local Latino population. The Center focuses on helping the community as a whole, not restricted to just Latinos or any other group. Recently, protection of day laborers and their rights has been a focus of the Center. (Staff Photo By Latisha Catchatoorian)

“Vans just pick people up and hire them for the day,” Blau said.  “It happens across the U.S.  Standing out in the freezing rain, snow, ice, is just wrong. No one should have to do that, anywhere.”

The center proclaims that human rights are for all people with no exceptions.  Recently the center has been advocating the passage of new legislation to protect the rights and wages of day laborers in Carrboro and Chapel Hill. This is part of the center’s mission, as one of its goals is to “go to bat” for those who face discrimination in these towns.

Day laborers, who are often hired for jobs that vary on a day-to-day basis, are sometimes denied pay.  Pay could be denied for projects that are a day’s work or for projects that take a few weeks.  The center has been petitioning the Carrboro Board of Aldermen to make such an exploitation, which is currently a civil offense, into a criminal act.

“All people are entitled to protection on the job, to good wages, to acceptable hours,” said Blau.  “The way the state law reads now, it’s only a civil offense to violate the labor rights of undocumented workers. To put some teeth into that law, we are posing it be a criminal offense.”

Many of these laborers are undocumented workers in Carrboro and Chapel Hill.  But Blau said according to federal labor laws, there is no distinction for protection between those who are documented and those who are not.

These workers simply wait and hope for any work they are lucky enough to obtain.

Blau said that many workers started coming to Rafael Gallegos, the assistant director of the center, telling him that they worked for two weeks and weren’t paid. Or that they were getting such low wages that they couldn’t possibly survive on them. Or that they were injured on the job and employers weren’t taking care of their medical expenses.

“These are all violations of national legal protections, but because employers know that the day laborers and other poor people are unlikely to go to the small claims court and go through the procedures of getting compensation, they get by with it,” Blau said. “For Carrboro to pass this ordinance would be a fantastic advance.”

Gallegos is a sociology graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill, originally from Delicias, Chihuahua, Mexico.  His thesis, which is on day laborers, specifically concentrates on those in Carrboro.

Antique store still making sales after 13 years

Posted on April 17th, 2009 in Antiques,Economy,Features by jock

By Becky Wessels
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

There is no big sign on the street marking its location. The front entrance is actually on the side of the building and can be driven past without notice. However, Oddities and Such, an antique store owned and operated by Richard Watts, is about to celebrate its 13th anniversary on July 4.


Richard Watts enjoys collecting odd and unusual things to sell in his store, Oddities and Such, like this singing toy rabbit. Watts’ collection includes five singing Billy Bass fish, some discontinued laserdiscs and a flag portraying Elvis, among other objects.
Staff photo by Becky Wessels

At Oddities and Such, located at 501 W. Main St., Watts has been selling all sorts of antiques, used furniture and unusual items for the past 13 years in the store that his father built in 1948. The other half of the building is occupied by Ink Spot Copy Shop.

“I’ve been doing this about 18 years,” Watts said. For five years, he would sell antiques at a flea market where Carolina Fitness is located. He decided to move into the store property since his family owned the space.

Watts said he prefers to sell “items from the 1950s, lamps and waterfall furniture.”

Watts does not stock the store with extremely expensive items but with things he thinks are reasonably priced.

“I have fair prices on fair things. I look for different, unusual things,” Watts said.

Watts, who has lived in Carrboro his entire life, can’t believe he has been operating Oddities and Such for so long. “I’m just surprised that I’ve been here 13 years,” Watts said. “My life revolved around three years, and then things would change.”

Customers reluctant to trim salon visits from budgets

Posted on April 1st, 2009 in Carrboro Connections,Economy,Lifestyles by jock

By Virginia McIlwain
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

On a recent Friday morning, a steady stream of customers filtered through the side door of 102 Center St., greeted by the familiar snip of sharpened scissors and faint roar of a hair dryer echoing through the wide wooden hallway of the century-old mill house.

mcilwain_paulettefinal.jpg Stylists Angela Iamuzzella (left), of Chapel Hill, and Beverly Mauney (middle), of Hillsborough, pose with Curl Up & Dye owner Paulette Wilkie, of Pittsboro. According to Wilkie, the recent economic downturn has had little effect on the salon’s business. “I think hairstyling is one thing people will give up very last,” she said.
Staff photo by Virginia McIlwain

A brief glance at the day’s headlines is all it takes to recognize that times are tough for many, as the nation’s economy continues its precipitous decline. Yet, here at Curl Up & Dye, a fixture in Carrboro’s hairstyling community for more than two decades, business is good.

According to Paulette Wilkie, the salon’s owner, customers are willing to trim a lot of things from their budgets, but don’t ask them to give up their salon visits.

“I think hairstyling is one thing people will give up very last,” said Wilkie. “Even now, people who have lost their jobs are still coming in before they go to interviews.”

As unemployment continues to rise and consumer spending wanes, many beauty salons are proving to be resistant to the nation’s bleak economic forecast.

In recent months, buzz has once again surrounded the “lipstick effect,” an economic theory credited to Leonard Lauder, chairman of Estée Lauder Companies. Lauder hypothesized that, in economically trying times, high lipstick sales reflect an increase in consumer demand for cheaper cosmetic products as people look for less expensive ways to treat themselves.

Job seekers turn to job search adviser

Posted on April 1st, 2009 in Carrboro Connections,Economy,Employment by jock

By Sarah Shah
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

Jennifer Hartzog, a marketing and communications specialist from Chapel Hill, said she was eliminated from her job at a publishing company last November.

And Bruce Gingerich, a product line manager from Pittsboro, said he was recently laid off by his company, which has gone through a few downsizes.

shahkomives1final.jpg Bob Emslie (left), a software development professional from Carrboro, consults with Mike Komives, a career and job search adviser whose office is located at 605 W. Main St. in Carrboro. Komives said he’s been helping a lot more people as a result of the economic downturn.Staff photo by Sarah Shah.

With the February unemployment rate in North Carolina soaring to a record 10.7 percent, according to a North Carolina Employment and Securities Commission report, Hartzog and Gingerich are just two of many people turning to networking opportunities and professional job search advisers like Mike Komives for help.

“I help people search for jobs in this tough environment,” said Komives, a Carrboro-based career and job search adviser. “And now, I am finding out how elastic I am. I’m really going 24/7 and helping a lot more people.”

Komives said he often hosts workshops such as the one held at St. Thomas More Church in Chapel Hill on March 28th devoted to the topic of interviewing.

The workshop, which had more than 30 people in attendance, featured four human resources professionals from places like GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Duke University’s Fuquay School of Business.

“What they did was talk about all the process of interviewing, how to prepare for it, how to conduct it and what to do after,” Komives said.

First, though, each person had to give a “thirty-second elevator speech” describing his or her current job situation.

Komives said many people who have recently been let go are afraid to talk about it, and are bitter and embarrassed.

“They’re afraid to talk about it, and they really should not be because they are not alone,” he said. “The best thing to do is say, ‘hey, I got let go and I am valuable, I have skills and I am very productive.’”

shahkomivesfinal2.jpg Wyatt Isabel (seated left to right), a product manager, Melissa Park, a public health researcher, and Sonya Cato, an environmental engineer all from Chapel Hill conduct a mock interview as facilitator Teri de Leon from Duke Univiersity’s Fuqua School of Business provides feedback. The mock interview was part of a St. Joseph Jobs Network workshop held at St. Thomas More Church in Chapel Hill on March 28th. The workshop, attended by more than 30 people, focused on the process of interviewing.
Staff photo by Sarah Shah

Attendees also got to participate in mock interviews with one another. “It was good that I could go into a mock interview and now I can go home and reflect on it,” Gingerich said.

Gingerich added that he’s known Komives for three years and now sees him on a regular basis. “He’s been very helpful, and he kind of prods you along,” he said.

Komives, a self-described “glass half-full kind of person,” said part of his job is building confidence and empowering people. “The job search is emotionally the pits at first,” he said. “So it’s important to talk about strengths, motivations and values.”

Komives added that it was also extremely important for job seekers to network as much as possible. “You know more people than you think,” he said. “And there are a lot of good groups out there like TAFU [To Avoid Future Unemployment] and the Triangle Networking Group.”

Sujan Joshi, a senior communications major at UNC-Chapel Hill from Raleigh, said she planned on networking more. “It’s really unfortunate that I’m graduating at a time when there are so few people hiring,” she said.

Nonetheless, she remained optimistic and confident. “The good thing is that there’s help on the way, and things can only get better,” she said.

New barbecue joint keeps it local

Posted on April 1st, 2009 in Economy,Features by jock

By Tom Nading

Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

With its emphasis on local ingredients and local ownership, the Q Shack strives to offer the Carrboro community more than just barbecue, according to owner Tom Meyer.

nading_qshackfinal.jpg UNC-Chapel Hill sophomore Krissy Ayers, a chemistry major from Summerfield, N.C., shows off a pulled pork sandwich from the Q Shack. Ayers said she appreciated the restaurant’s local focus and thought it was a good addition to the Carrboro community. Staff photo by Tom Nading

The Q Shack opened March 6 at 302 E. Main St., the third restaurant in three years to sit at that location. Bandido’s Mexican Café closed in 2007, and Bandido’s owner Tony Sustaita opened Crawdaddy’s, a Cajun-themed restaurant, at the same location in 2008. Crawdaddy’s was unable to make it through the year, though, and the location became vacant in early 2009.

“Generally speaking, I get scared if a location has a history of not doing so hot,” Meyer said. “But it happens; people go out of business. … Our focus is satisfaction and loyalty.”

One of the ways that the Q Shack tries to promote customer satisfaction is by keeping things local, Meyer said. The restaurant buys its meats from a hog farm in Micro, just 70 miles east of the Carrboro location, and it buys as many of its other ingredients as possible from Pine Knot Farm in Hurdle Mills, fewer than 30 miles north. Buying from local farmers supports the local economy, and it also has a profound environmental impact because the goods are not shipped across long distances, Meyer said. Also, the local ingredients taste better, he added.