'I don't feel safe:' Raleigh business owner may pull plug on downtown retail icon Briggs Hardware

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Thursday, June 25, 2020
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Briggs Hardware is undoubtedly a downtown Raleigh institution. The business has been around for 155 years, but owner Evelyn Davis says lack of confidence in the mayor and police chief have led her to consider leaving her Hargett Street location.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- You'll find water bottles and snacks outside of Briggs Hardware Store in downtown Raleigh. Owner Evelyn Davis feels she is a real member of the community and wants to give to neighbors, but she is also strongly considering to pull the plug and give up her Hargett Street location.

"I don't feel safe down here," she said.

Briggs is undoubtedly a downtown Raleigh institution. The business has been around for 155 years.

Davis' lease is up in two weeks, and she hasn't re-signed. She loves her landlord and said he has been wonderful through the COVID-19 crisis.

She, like others, is infuriated by the mayor and police chief's handling of the violent protests a few weekends ago.

"I feel that neither of them take seriously life," Davis said.

She didn't bother dialing into one of Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin's recent Zoom calls with downtown small-business owners.

"I knew it would just be lip service," Davis said.

Davis also said she feels as if Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown has turned her back on Main Street.

"I pay my taxes to be protected and to have my officers told to stand down on any level is inexcusable," she said.

ABC11 took these concerns to Baldwin, who said no one could have predicted protests of this magnitude or fury.

"The police were overwhelmed," Baldwin said.

Baldwin said the city is reviewing its response and looking for ways to improve.

"How do we work best with those limited resources and still earn back the confidence of our small business community, which by the way, is very important to us," Baldwin said.

The week after violent protests, Davis said the store only brought in $25 in sales.

She used all her savings to help rebuild downtown and continues weighing whether to continue to invest in this spot.

"Our security infrastructure is not there," Davis said.

Baldwin said the city is looking into other things to help small businesses right now:

  • If it's possible to repurpose economic development funds and facade grants
  • Starting a revolving loan program
  • Creating an alert system where owners would be notified if violence erupts in the future