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Retail Rebirth: Carriage Lane goes through new cycle of tenants as buildings fill up

Iris Lesney likes a shopping center with character. That is one of the reasons she is moving her business to Carriage Lane.

cheese_steak.jpg

Tikiyia Jackson gets supplies at Eddie's Philly Cheesesteaks, a restaurant that recently opened in Carriage Lane.
Elwood Hamilton
"I like it because it's quaint," said Ms. Lesney, one of the owners of Go Postal. "Each office doesn't look the same. ... It's not an in-the-mold type of a little center."

Go Postal will relocate from the shopping center near Wal-Mart to Carriage Lane on March 1. The move is part of a renewed interest in the shopping center that has been around since the late 1970's.

Eddie's Philly Cheese Steak recently opened in Carriage Lane and will be the next door neighbor of Go Postal. Ms. Lesney said the accessibility and customer safety also weighed in her decision to move.

"It's easier in and out over there," she said. "You've got good access from Washington Road, You've got good access from Martin Luther King."

According to Carriage Lane Owner Charlie Lewis, the revitalization of the shopping center is something that comes in cycles.

"It's just the times here in McDuffie County that the market is getting stronger," he said.

For years the center stayed at least 15 percent empty according to Mr. Lewis. But as of the March 1 move of Go Postal, the shopping center will be at capacity.

Mr. Lewis and others in the community think that Wal-Mart has had a hand in much of the renewed interest in businesses locating in that area.

"The little strip shopping center next to Wal-Mart attracts other businesses that want to ride their coattails," he said.

"Everybody cusses and kicks Wal-Mart because it replaces a lot of things. Well it does, and I'm sorry it does replace some mom and pop operations without any question," he said. "But by-in-large, people come to McDuffie County from other counties to shop at Wal-Mart, and their going to visit your stores and shops that you've got here."

Carriage Lane has always had a wide variety of businesses. Mr. Lewis said that they only allow one business of any particular kind in the center.

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Greg Royal, co-owner of Go Postal, adjusts a NASCAR hat in his store in the shopping ceter next to Wal-Mart. Go Postal will move into Carriage Lane in the coming weeks.
Elwood Hamilton
"Umpteen different times we could have rented another beauty shop," Mr. Lewis said. "But we didn't do it because we had one here. ... It's not good business to cut your tenants' throats."

Many area businesses have had their start in Carriage Lane and eventually outgrew the shopping center making relocation necessary. Richards' Florist, Stephens' Jewlery and Enterprise Car Center are three of those.

"It's sort of been a kickoff point for a lot of people, for a lot of different businesses," Mr. Lewis said. "If somebody can start off right here and they can outgrow this place, I'm all for it."

Perhaps it is just that supportive attitude that helped put Ms. Lesney over the top on her decision to move her business.

"We know the people that work over there," she said. "Everybody's just really super nice."



Web posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004


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