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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A donation-based transportation business has closed up shop, but what will that mean for safety in downtown Wilmington?

Anybody who has been downtown since 2009 has probably seen the Cartmen zipping around the streets, but the business is being curbed.

When the Cartmen of Wilmington started back in 2009, owner Bryan Metzger says it was a business he felt downtown needed.

“It was to detour crime and help people get from one point to another without feeling afraid,” Metzger said. “The one rule I had was women and children first, so it was a priority to make sure that people got from one place to another, and when we brought them to their house, we made sure they got into their house.”

The idea was new to many in the Port City, including Ginger Sauls, who says she got a good laugh out of her first experience with Cartmen.

“I had come from out of state, and I had heard about it at a hotel I had worked at, and I was like, ‘What’s a cartman?'” she said. “I needed to call them for a guest, and they showed up, and I thought it was a coolest thing, and it amazed me that they didn’t have a set price. They went by tips only.”

While many patrons tipped quite generously, Metzger says some businesses took advantage by asking Cartmen to make deliveries.

“The problem with the businesses downtown is they didn’t want to pay us. I was doing a service for them, and I wasn’t getting paid,” Metzger said.

Metzger says the wear and tear on his carts caused by these free rides ultimately put him out of business and in doing so may have made downtown a more dangerous place.

“It already has,” he said. “The three years we were doing it seemed like you didn’t hear much about people getting jumped and things happening. Now the kid got killed.”

Metzger says he hopes the Cartmen idea is not completely done in Wilmington. He thinks with the right investors, his carts could be giving rides again.

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9 Comments on "ONLY ON 3: Free rides put Cartmen out of business"

2015 years 10 months ago

Sorry to see the cartmen go,for what ever reason. They were such a great alternative to the filthy, smelly cabs we have to put up with in this town. It isn’t every cab but there are enough of them to taint the whole fleet. The city keeps promising to do something to improve the quality of the taxi service for 20 years and little has improved.

Brad Corpening
2015 years 10 months ago

I would like to set the record straight with regards to Cartmen’s involvement in running deliveries for restaurants in the downtown area. The fact of the matter is that Cartmen of Wilmington took advantage of local businesses after soliciting the delivery business. He arranged deals with my business and others in the downtown area for a share of the sales of each delivery he took, with the assurance that he would not charge delivery fees. He then proceeded to charge delivery fees, against the wishes of his business customers and after said businesses had told their customers that no delivery fee would be charged, and in addition expected a tip from the recipients of these deliveries. Furthermore, he would neglect to settle the balance owed for his deliveries and let that balance grow for days at a time, then try to pay less than he owed thus taking sales from businesses that were already cutting him a deal. Add to all this the fact that he treated the businesses he was delivering for in a very unprofessional manner and constantly demanded cheaper deals and greater concessions while offering said unprofessional service, showing up for pickups when it suited him and not adhering to establish operating procedures. I am disappointed that he would blame his own shortcomings and poor business planning on the hardworking businesses of the Downtown area and I am disgusted that he would use the tragic and untimely death Joshua Proutey to make himself out to be some sort of guarding angel. While there has been a drop in violence in the Downtown area over the past three years, I must point out that this is due to the diligent officers of the WPD, which has increased the police presence in the Downtown area, especially on the weekends, and to the efforts of business owners and managers in the Downtown area who have enacted their own safety measures to ensure that their employees leaving work late at night have escorts or travel in groups and make it home or to their cars safely. It is my hope that these fallacious remarks made by Mr. Metzger in enmity will not reflect on the Downtown community or it’s members who work hard everyday to create a positive, welcoming, and enjoyable experience for citizens of and visitors to Wilmington, in spite of the fact that some people seem insistent on focusing only on negative events – aspects of the community which are the minority. Thank you for the opportunity to add some depth and reality to this story.

Ron Suriano
2015 years 10 months ago

Couldn’t have said it better… We emailed the author of this article and invited him to talk to us to find out the “truth” of Cartmen’s demise, but haven’t heard from him as of this writing. He was getting paid 15% of the total bill, getting tipped by our customers and he STILL asked for a further discount when it came time to settle the tickets. The fact of the matter is that he STILL owes us money… and not a small amount.

We’re glad to have to you as a friend and fellow Downtown business associate!

2015 years 10 months ago

Good riddance… one less dopey Republican who thinks he’s a businessman on the streets. Is there any way that the grant he received from the state government could be taken back??

2015 years 10 months ago

The way that I heard it was that the Cartmen owners leased out the carts to the drivers. The drivers were the ones who couldn’t make a profit because of not getting paid. Cartmen got money, but then ended up not getting money when no one wanted to drive for them.

Also, I was under the understanding that the owners also received a grant for their business.

The reason that they didn’t charge a fee or a fare was because they didn’t want to be governed by the same rules as cabs. Otherwise, they could have gotten around not receiving any tips by charging a minimum fee for transport.

Joe T.
2015 years 10 months ago

I have had nothing but good experiences with the Cartmen and even spoke to Mr. Metzger early on when he first started one night on the corner of 2nd and Princess. This was a good service for Wilmington downtown and I wish them good luck in getting back on their feet.

2015 years 10 months ago

Not a very smart business person to say the least. Free is not good in a service only oriented business.

2015 years 10 months ago

Wouldn’t the simple answer be to refuse to perform the commercial deliveries for free? Something doesn’t add up here.

2015 years 10 months ago

Cartman was so nice to our family, so helpful to our elderly neighbor too. He took good care of my daughter when she needed rides home. We miss Cartman!


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