White Tire managers say business will be staying put, for now

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 1, 2014

SALISBURY — Put on the brakes.
The men who run White Tire Center in downtown Salisbury want customers to know the shop is still open for business and not going anywhere, at least anytime soon.
“That is one of more our successful locations,” said Todd White, the general manager for the Hickory-based chain that has eight retail shops. “We like being downtown. That really helps us, and it gives people the opportunity to deal with a local chain and not have to go to big, national chains.”
The building that houses White Tire — a century-old structure near Salisbury Station — is white hot right now. It stands across from the police parking lot on North Lee Street, the very spot where city and tourism leaders want to build a new farmers market and cultural plaza.
Teams of architects spent three days studying the area to come up with design ideas, and all included the White Tire building in some way. One team even suggested poking a hole through one garage bay to expose the Rail Walk that deadends behind White Tire, allowing pedestrians a passageway.
Bud Mickle, whose family owns the building and operated a tire service there for decades, has been leasing the facility to White Tire since 1995.
Mickle said earlier this week he will consider selling the building for a farmers market, if the price is right.
The property has a tax value of $213,049, which Mickle called “pretty ridiculous.”
White, son of White Tire owner Darryl White, said he talked to Mickle recently and was assured that nothing will happen to the building in the near future. Todd White said if he sells it, Mickle will give the Whites a chance to bid on the building as well.
In the meantime, White said, his family will start working on plan B.
“We do realize that the city has spent a lot of money fixing that area up and they maybe don’t want a rough looking tire store in the middle of everything,” White said. “I do feel better after talking to Bud. This is not going to be a deal where he calls us up and says get out in six months.”
White Tire has six full-time employees, including Bryan Beattie, who started working at the shop 17 years ago when he was 22 years old, changing oil and doing tire rotations.
Now the manager, Beattie said his customers have been confused by the talk about the farmers market and are asking if the shop is closing or going out of business.
“Many have misunderstood,” said Beattie, who starting working when he was 14 in his family’s restaurant, Beattie’s Open Kitchen, which was on Fisher Street.
White Tire thrives thanks to customers who work downtown and can drop off their vehicle and then walk to work, Beattie said. The business may not end up staying downtown, but it will definitely stay in Salisbury, he said.
“If Bud does sell, we are going to find us another building,” Beattie said.