CLAYTON — Main Street won’t be the same without Elmore Furniture Co., which has been in business here for nearly 30 years.
Elmore, which also has stores in Dunn and Pinehurst, will close its Clayton store in the next few months.
Owner William “Abe” Elmore is retiring and says it’s time for him to slow down.
All items are on sale as the store tries to clear inventory. The exact closing date depends on when the building sells, and the owners haven’t received an offer yet.
A part of the family
Last week, longtime employee Mary Barbour sat unassumingly behind the counter, where she has greeted customers for the past 53 years. She worked there before Elmore bought what was then Talton’s Furniture.
“I’ve been called Mrs. Elmore so many times,” Barbour said.
She doesn’t mind; Barbour is used to being the face of the store. “My kids would come after school and have their snacks here and then my grandchildren did the same thing,” she said.
While she worked, the kids would hang out in the back, swinging on beams and playing on mattresses, Barbour said. It was better than making them latch-key kids, she said.
Last week, Barbour sat at the counter putting “Thank You” notes in envelopes to be mailed to everyone who bought something at the store that week.
“That’s the ‘thank you’ you get from mom-and-pop stores,” said Carolyn Elmore Brewington, daughter of owner Abe Elmore.
Store caters to growing town
The smell of new fabric still permeates the store. Leather couches, camouflage recliners and trendy ottomans are all on clearance.
Because the store sells furniture to families moving here, the employees have been able to see the influx of people to the area. When the closeout sale began in September, Barbour and Brewington started tracking where people lived before moving here.
So far it’s up to 22 states. Many of the customers are New York transplants.
“Most of them moved to Johnston County in the past couple years,” Barbour said.
No employees will lose their jobs when the store closes. Barbour is retiring. The rest of the staff is made up of family members who will work at Elmore’s other stores.
The future of the space
Main Street will be different without the store.
Downtown development director Bruce Naegelen said it has brought a lot of people downtown. “The traffic they generate will be missed,” he said.
He hopes the three-story building will not be vacant for long. “That would have an impact,” Naegelen said.
Naegelen is aware of ideas that others have for the space, but he doesn’t want to disclose them. For his part, Naegelen envisions dividing the building into multiple spaces, perhaps with a business on the first floor and housing on the second.