ST. PAULS — Joe Sugar’s of St. Pauls will mark its 100th anniversary on June 9, 2016.
But the centennial celebration has already begun.
Joe Sugar, whose grandfather started the men’s clothing store in 1916, kicked off a year-long observance last month that is expected to include raffles, student projects, a documentary, an exhibit and “a giant party.”
“Over a year ago, I started thinking what I wanted to do. I didn’t just want another sale,” Sugar said.
“There is a Sugar Park here, but a lot of people may not know why it is called Sugar Park. We wanted to do something to give the changing demographic a sense of our deep roots here in St. Pauls.”
Sugar, a third-generation owner of the store, said one way to share the store’s story is to involve the community in the anniversary celebration. He wants the Robeson Historic Museum to help with an exhibit at the store.
He said there are also plans to have a group of St. Pauls High School students research the history of the men’s clothing store as part of their senior projects.
“The goal is to let the students take root in being a part of this 100-year history,” Sugar said. “I don’t know if there is a business in town that has been in the same family for 100 years. I can’t think of one.”
Sugar is proud of the store’s long history of drawing customers from a wide area, including many travelers off Interstate 95, because of an extensive variety of sizes. The store’s motto is “If you have a figure, we can fit it.”
“We have been in business for such a long time because we have been able to adapt and change,” he said. “We have also built relationships with our customers. We consider them our friends.”
As part of the year-long event, Sugar’s customers can register for what the store is calling 52 weeks of giveaways. Each Tuesday, a name is pulled for a gift certificate to local businesses and restaurants worth $25 to $50. The raffle began in June. Customers can learn about the raffle by visiting the store’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/JoeSugars?fref=ts.
“It is the kind of thing that shows how much we appreciate our customers, but it also gives people a chance to visit our other local businesses,” Sugar said. “For example, if someone from Rowland wins a lunch at Tarpackers, it may introduce them to a local restaurant that they have never visited. Involving other businesses may help them.”
Sugar has also partnered with Robeson Community College to be a drop-off site for the school’s Career Clothing Closet, a project that collects gently used business attire for needy students for job interviews.
“We are urging our customers to help with that project and we plan to be a big contributor to it as well,” Sugar said. “Giving back in some aspect has always been a part of our store’s history.”
Sugar said he also plans to host an event that will include Sugar family members, past and present employees and loyal customers.
“This store has so many stories and so much history,” Sugar said. “We have survived a lot of major changes. Staying in business for 100 years is a major feat. We want to tell that story.”
Scott Witten can be reached at 910-865-4179.