Business finds used syringes around parking lot, worried for safety


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A Wilmington dog groomer is concerned for her business and her safety after an organization that helps drug users moved in next door.

“When my child gets here in the afternoon, I want the door locked,” Christina Horrell said. “Because she’s all I have besides my dogs.”

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Horrell has owned The Purple Groomery on Wrightsville Ave. in Wilmington since 2012. She worked there under the previous owner starting in 2007.

She says last month she noticed the N.C. Harm Reduction Coalition had moved in next door.

“There’s been a lot of people hanging out in the parking lot and leaving trash in the parking lot,” Horrell said. “People hanging out on the sidewalk when they’re not open.”

The organization has a needle exchange program and provides Narcan to those who need it.

Horrell says the activity has made both her and her clients feel unsafe.

“It’s affecting my business, and now we’ve got needles being left in the parking lot, and that’s a super serious thing,” Horrell said. “Especially if a client’s dog were to step on it.”

Bernadette Calicchio, a phlebotomist at the N.C. Harm Reduction Coalition, says they do more than just exchange needles. They promote safe sex by giving out condoms, provide a place for homeless people to rest and more.

She says she did not expect the push back the organization is getting.

“More than anything, we empower our participants to be more safe in their drug use,” Calicchio said. “You can go anywhere and find a syringe, I mean just this weekend I was walking in Halyburton Park and I found a used syringe in the sand on a walking trail.”

Horrell says she did contact the police and they’re looking into the issue. She says she can’t afford to move her business, and she’s looking to get a concealed carry permit to protect herself.