Grant helps hardware store reclaim vacant building
SCOTLAND NECK -- It was incredibly cheap -- just $6,000 -- but Isaac Hanff did not buy the crumbling, three-story building on Main Street because he could snap it up for less than what he'd pay for a used car.
Hanff is a Scotland Neck native who remembers when the town bubbled with the energy that steady factory paychecks provide. Bustling businesses lined the town's economic corridor.
The building he owns at 1000 Main Street over the years housed businesses that sold everything from clothes and appliances to horse carriages and caskets.
The decline of manufacturing and textiles has led to downtown becoming dotted with empty buildings. Hanff bought one of the largest ones, even though pigeons camped out on the third floor and holes in the roof had led to severe water damage. The building dates to the 1880s.
"I didn't want to see it fall down," he said.
With help from a $60,000 building reuse grant the Rural Center, Hanff worked to renovate the ground floor of the vacant eyesore into Hometown Hardware & General Store, which opened in 2011.
Scotland Neck Police Chief Joe D. Williams Jr. runs the business with this son, Holten. They sell hand-dipped ice cream, retro candies and pickled pigs feet alongside hammers and paint and building supplies, replicating the feel of an old-time mercantile center.
With gasoline prices high, Williams said there is a market in town for people who don't want to drive to Roanoke Rapids or Tarboro to visit the nearest hardware store. "On those road trips, you're going to burn 50 miles to get a half-pound of nails," he said.