Carthage retailers, restaurants hope for strong business with power back and return of parade

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Friday, December 9, 2022
Moore County turns focus back to Christmas parade, holiday shopping
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The lights wrapped around trees along Carthage's Courthouse Square lighting up the night Friday were a welcome sight after days of darkness plagued this community.

CARTHAGE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The lights wrapped around trees along Carthage's Courthouse Square lighting up the night Friday were a welcome sight after days of darkness plagued this community.

"We take it as it comes, we're going to be just fine," said Lisa Padilla, owner of Lisa's Boutique.

Saturday's shooting of two electrical substations led more than 40,000 customers, largely in Moore County, to be without power for several days, as Duke Energy crews worked around the clock to restore electricity.

"All (our) kids came to stay at the house. Because they were all impacted. And then we spent the two days, basically made food, prepared it, and took it around town. So we went down to Aberdeen and fed a neighborhood in Aberdeen, just to try and help out and do what we could," said Sharon Gardner, owner of Whispering Pies.

While Gardner was fortunate to have power at her home, her business wasn't spared. She estimated they had to throw out about $7,000 worth of food and drinks, due to some beer kegs not staying. Add on five days of lost sales, and the total hit approaches five figures.

"It's been a tough one. We've been here every single day even though we were closed. We cleaned and threw everything away. Cried. But it's what you have to do," Gardner said.

It's a similar situation for Pete Kakouris, owner of Pete's Family Restaurant.

"It was Saturday night, the place was full. Then all of a sudden, no electricity. We thought it was a storm, because sometimes a storm goes by," said Kakouris.

As he'd soon find out, that was not the case. As authorities continue to investigate the incident, ABC News has learned federal warrants have been filed, though specifics are not known at this time. According to The News & Observer, ABC 11's newsgathering partner, the FBI is requesting cell phone data as part of their search to learn who is responsible for the attack, which forced some into shelters, and businesses to close for days. There is a $75,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.

Kakouris estimated he had to dispose of $5-6,000 worth of products, before he was able to reopen Tuesday.

"The (crews) did a helluva job. The mobile units, because the substations only about two miles away from here. So they put the mobiles in, and they did a helluva job. It was a lot of work, an awful lot of work," said Kakouris.

Friday was the first day Whispering Pies could reopen, with Gardner saying customers have helped by placing orders early as they catch up on prep.

As difficult as the past week has been, the Town of Carthage experienced some luck regarding the timing and planning of its Christmas parade.

"If we had it on Tuesday, it would have been a black out and we may not have had it at all," said Town Clerk Kim Gibson.

Earlier this year, the town opted to move the parade to Saturday for the first time, in an effort to enhance safety surrounding traffic. The decision is now set to provide a big boost to local businesses, with crowds expected to approach 8,000 people.

"It is very important, especially during the holiday season. Because this is one of our busiest seasons of the year. So this really - a lot of us depend on our Christmas traffic," said Padilla, who will be offering free coffee and cocoa to attendees.

"It's the spirit of giving, spirit of Christmas, kinship in our communities. That's what we need right now," added Gibson.

Gardner is proud of the community's resilience over the past week.

"We stick together."