Is all business good business for downtown Wilmington?

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Submitted: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 3:43am
Updated: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 9:16pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -– With the recent addition of some new restaurants, business is booming in downtown Wilmington, but one business owner says not all business is good business.

“Man, downtown has been really hot,” said Hunter Ford, owner of Momentum Surf and Skate on Front Street. “I’ve had the best year that we’ve ever had here. I had the best weekend I’ve ever had over Cucalorus weekend just a couple of weeks ago. So I’ve been impressed with how fast the rebound has happened downtown.”

But recently Ford says he noticed a disturbing trend that worries him that organizations set up to bring business downtown are resting on their laurels.

“A couple of those organizations have been counterproductive,” Ford said. “They have brought businesses that are seasonal downtown that don’t reflect where we’re trying to go with our downtown.”

Ford says seasonal businesses like Rita’s take away from the appeal of downtown by closing for months at a time and giving off the appearance that downtown is a dying area.

“Although I really like Rita’s (Italian Ice) and frequent the place a lot I would like to see more places that are committed to our growth and being a responsible party downtown and seeing this through because we are not seasonal,” Ford said.

John Hinnant of Wilmington Downtown Inc. has contacted the owner of Rita’s to remove the sign due to these concerns.

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12 Comments on "Is all business good business for downtown Wilmington?"

2015 years 8 months ago

Where do you come off thinking that they should operate at a loss? They are not a government funded operation. They MAKE what they sell, and if they make it, and don’t sell it, it costs them even more money in addition to having someone stand behind the counter selling nothing. They apparently pay rent all year, since they building still says Rita’s in the off season. What was there before them? An empty building because the Jewelry business couldn’t continue in depressed downtown.

Take a tour north on front st. Lots of other empty buildings where businesses used to exist. The building where Bank Of America was – Empty except when Wilmington’s film industry wants to use it. The building just north of Shaw university. Empty, and you gag from the mold and other smells emanating from the building as you walk by. The soon to be closed clothing stores. The recently closed restaurants, the hole (literally!) in the ground where the condos were going to be built, etc, etc.

They are closed in the winter because they have to be given the current conditions downtown, and you want to cause issues for the business? Maybe they’ll just close completely. Then you can consider your job done. Why don’t YOU rent one of those empty buildings with YOUR money, not some government handout, put some sort of business in there, and sit there – whether you sell anything or not. It would be OK as long as you didn’t have payroll. As a business owner, your time is considered free. It would be much better than an empty building.

Your comparing them to the gas station taking advantage of customers at night because they are the only game in town makes no sense. That does go on in downtown with the parking company raising prices at night on weekends – just because they can.

When you wake up and come to your senses, here’s a Youtube video for you:

2015 years 8 months ago

You on the one hand honor their right to close but not you will not patronize their business any more? People who own and operate a business our smart enough to figure out what is appropriate to meet their bottom line needs. For those who are to weak in the knees to venture out on your own please take yor business elsewhere.

Guest 10101
2015 years 8 months ago

You’re still upset about a Scotchman store from 20 years ago?

You’ll encourage others not to go to a store that’s not even open right now?

You want the owner to stay in a frozen treat store by herself all winter even if it means a significant loss?

Perhaps some warm milk and a good night’s sleep would be helpful.

Committed to the community
2015 years 8 months ago

This Rita’s closed in the same manner last year, their first winter season after serving frozen treats during warm months. I regret that this business may be undercapitalized or operating at a significant loss over this period. I honor the right of Rita’s management to make such a business decision. But, It is disappointing that I have seen no effort on their part to diversify or stay open through a tougher time of the year to avoid a shutdown storefront. I would prefer to see this small business owner work shifts alone with no other payroll, or have drastically decreased operating hours, than close during the colder months. I will no longer support this location and most likely other Rita’s locations which I question may have the same management. Additionally, I will probably encourage others to not patronize this location. It somewhat reminds me of the Scotchman store in Ogden 20 or so years ago which increased gas prices the few hours overnight when the “getting was good”. Again, while I support the right of Rita’s management to make such a business decision, I hope the owner will understand when I no longer buy their product and encourage others to patronize one of their competitors who continues operating in slower times…just as I and others drove past Scotchman stores, for years, in order to support another business which was deemed to operate more acceptably.

2015 years 8 months ago

concur; good article.

But where does King John get off indicating he will contact the business owner and have them remove their sign?

It appeared from the video, the furniture and equipment is still present. Signs are still on the window.

It would appear they still pay rent during the off season.

If the sign, which only a few find so odorous, is in violation of city ordinances, then have the city address it.

Hinnant has no bone in this arena. Let him go back to promoting downtown development. He may need to look for projects smaller than ball parks and convention centers.

2015 years 8 months ago

This article spells out what can happen when you desire to be known as a tourist area – in a weather climate such as ours.
We are not Hawaii so we do have a “down” season for our beaches. We can’t support year round tourism because the visitors just aren’t here all year long. Our climate is desirable for many, with hot summers with a fair amount of cool and or cold weather in the fall and winter – it is attractive to snowbirds who are used to very cold fall, winter, and spring seasons. We just aren’t a year round beach location.
So our business climate has to be one where we take advantage of the temporary season but have enough year round businesses to make the area “viable”.
Bars, restaurants, coffee and ice cream stores are nice but not effective for year round operations in this area – especially down town. Wilmington is still searching for it’s identity….


2015 years 8 months ago

Why don’t we read what kind of shop “Momentum” is or what kind of business “Rita’s” is? How is it seasonal? This article raises more questions than answers.

2015 years 8 months ago

Lets see… Momentum is billed as a Surf and skate shop. Neither of which can be done anywhere near their store. (Skateboarding is illegal downtown, and the river has no waves for surfing).

Rita’s sells italian ice. Not much market for that in the cold months – at least not enough for them to pay someone to stand in the store ant try to sell it.

Look at Carolina Beach’s boardwalk area in the winter. Most of that closes too.

2015 years 8 months ago

With all the other things that go on downtown, drunks, hookers, beggers, drugs, shootings, stabbings, muggings, alley urination and being penalized for parking your car to spend your money in the form of parking fees and fines if you don’t make it back in time to name a few, this guy is worried about a store that does not stay open year round.

White Elephant 567
2015 years 8 months ago

Its really a dump and is extremely dangerous. I can’t see this area attracting a significant amount of corporate convention business. Isn’t that what we need to drive the Convention Center that everyone wanted?


2015 years 8 months ago

Its the same old story about downtown. First we have city council tellng property owners what type of businesses they can have now we have other business owners telling other business owners when they need to be open. The owner of Ritas is wise enough to know when to open or close their business. The owner who always runs to cameras at any chance is well know downtown. He always seems to be involved in everyones business. Ritas also closes in Wrightsville bch this time of year.

2015 years 8 months ago

The Five W’s; Who, What, Why, When, and Where are questions whose answers are considered the basics in information-gathering for a news piece. That’s Journalism 101.

Momentum? …. Ritas? …. I have no idea what or where they are or why Rita’s is seasonal or when it closes or re-opens.

Perhaps the writer of this piece could attempt to apply the five W’s concept to any future articles he may choose to author.