LUMBERTON — A business owner whose candy shop was damaged by an Oct. 10 fire in Lumberton’s downtown has found a spot near the city plaza that she hopes will be sweet for her customers — and her bottom line.
Felicia Evans Long, a Lumberton native and owner of Sweet Candy Cafe’, will be cutting the ribbon to the new location on Friday at 3 p.m., just a few hours before Lumberton rings in the season with it annual tree-lighting ceremony. The store’s grand opening, set for Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m, will feature complimentary beverages, snacks and candy.
Long and her husband Tim lost property and renovation materials at her first choice for a candy shop, 310 N. Elm St., after the ceiling collapsed under the weight of water used to extinguish a blaze at a building next door. Dick Taylor, who runs an insurance business and owns several downtown properties, gave Long use of a vacant building nearby to store items until renovations could be completed at her new location.
“We extend a special thank you to Mr. Taylor for how he has assisted us in the rebuild and transition into our new space since the October fire,” Long said in a statement. “His help and support has been exceptional in bringing Sweet Candy Café to the Lumberton community.”
Taylor said he was happy to help someone with so much enthusiasm.
“She is such a nice person,” he said. “… She’s just so cooperative, and so excited about getting into Lumberton and opening her shop.”
As Long relocates, Taylor is trying to rebuild the business which shared a wall with the burned-out building — J-V TV Repair.
“We are working with the engineers to rebuild the wall inside the building that is still standing because of the common wall that is between them,” he said. “Hopefully, that will be finished within the next few days so we can see about taking down the debris and removing the wall on the outside.”
So far, workers have completed the interior wall in the first floor, and have started on the wall that will support the roof. After construction and demolition is complete, Taylor plans to build a new exterior wall and remove the fence that has kept the entrance to the TV repair business blocked off since a few days after the fire.
Repair shop owner John Gorman, who did not relocate, says he understands that Taylor is doing all he can but still feels as if he is in limbo.
“I’m in one of those moods today where you feel like if you move left, you’re going to stub your left toe and if your move right, you’ll stub your right,” Gorman said on Monday.
He said that pinning down a time frame of when work will be completed is difficult — and the process of getting a business license for a new location, putting up new signage, and moving all of his supplies, equipment and utilities is one that isn’t worth a temporary fix. Gorman, who works as a satellite installer, said he is looking for additional work to help him make ends meet until he can re-open the store.
“I’ve lost all the exposure,” he said, referring to the wooden fence that has kept the storefront out of sight. “As long as that’s up, people don’t know you’re here and by the time it opens, it’s going to be like starting over.”
Another downtown business impacted by the fire, All Occasions and Bridal, has since moved to a new location at 1908 N. Pine St. Owner Cherry Spruill has said her move was sparked by a stubborn smoky smell that permeated her merchandise and left the building water damaged.