Darts and laurels: Small stores, big impact
Laurels to Small Business Saturday, which is being observed today at stores here and around the country. Small retailers launched this annual event as something of an answer - or antidote? - to the mass-markeeting frenzy around the Black Friday sales at major retail chains. Just as the Friday after Thanksgiving is traditionally the biggest "ka-ching" day for those retailers, small businesses look to this weekend to kick off holiday merchandising and provide a barometer for how the rest of the season will go. Besides giving shoppers a quieter alternative to the holiday hordes at big-box stores, all those small businesses - more than 800,000 in North Carolina alone - make up a major impact on local and state economies. As Sen. Kay Hagan noted in a news release on Small Business Saturday, these merchants aren't simply vital drivers of and local economies, but are also "our friends and neighbors who spend countless hours striving to succeed."
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Dart to the shooting deaths of four red wolves recently near the northeastern North Carolina wildlife refuge where a breeding program is attempting to increase populations of the endangered species. Wildlife experts say the wolves may have been mistakenly shot by hunters going after coyotes at night, using artificial light. As a result a Superior Court judge has issued an injunction temporarily suspending the rule that allowed coyote hunting at night with the aid of artificial light in Dare, Tyrrell, Hyde, Washington and Beaufort counties. You can read more about North Carolina's red wolf recovery program at http://www.fws.gov/redwolf/.
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Laurels to North Carolina for once again supplying the official White House Christmas Tree. The tree, a 19-foot Frasir fir, came from Peak Farms of Jefferson, operated by Rusty Estes and his son Beau. This marks the 12th time a North Carolina tree has won the honor since 1966, when the National National Christmas Tree Association launched the annual contest that determines which grower will supply the White House tree. Christmas tree production is a $100 million-plus industry in North Carolina, which supplies about 18 percent of the real Christmas trees in the United States but 95 percent of the Frasir firs, according to the N.C. Department of Agriculture.