Bringing back a sense of community, Nostalgia Hollow hopes to transform north Kannapolis

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 4, 2018

By Liz Moomey
liz.moomey@salisburypost.com

KANNAPOLIS — Ashley Hines grew up in Kannapolis. She frequented the Gem Theatre, Boxcar Pizza and the grocery store Table Supply.

After Cannon Mills closed when she was 13, she said she began to see her childhood transform.

“There was just a lot going on when I was a kid, and when the mills closed, the town didn’t die immediately,” Hines said. “It was a very slow, awful death to watch because the businesses were losing money because there wasn’t that many people in the town.”

Hines said she was working 70 hours a week as a therapist in Greensboro and she called her mom to say there has to be more in life. They together decided to buy five buildings on Main Street to help bring back the downtown community.

“What would I say to describe Kannapolis?” Hines asked. “Nostalgia. I feel nostalgic riding around downtown Concord, because it’s still functioning, and downtown Salisbury is still functioning, like the cute little downtowns they were a while ago. Kannapolis is just empty, so I really, really missed it. So that’s how we came up with the word ‘nostalgia.’ There’s a neighborhood across the tracks called Happy Hollow, and my mom grew up right next to it in a neighborhood on Wilson Street.”

On Oct. 13, Hines and her mom, Yolanda Thompson, opened the first of the five buildings as Nostalgia Hollow Co., a boutique that sells goods from 14 vendors in the Carolinas. The vision they have for the other buildings is an event space and a place like a bakery or a craft beer shop where people can congregate.

“There’s nothing worse than driving through a town that you’ve seen its peak and then drive through it 15 years later and there’s no one,” she said. “That’s my hope, that kids that are walking home from school or young families that are looking for something to do on a Friday night know that I can just go to north Kannapolis and hang out because they have great food and great places to hear bands, they’ve got great beer or something like that. That’s what I would like to see.”

Hines said ideally, she would like to see a community where everyone knows each other again.

“Everybody knew everybody regardless of your race or your religion. You were connected because they were your neighbors,” Hines said.

As the owner of Nostalgia, she has made an effort to get to know her customers. That’s how it was in Kannapolis when she was a kid, she said.

“I make it a point when I meet people here, ‘What’s your name?’ so I know them when they come back in. Like ‘Hey Amy, this is what we got; I know you like this,’” Hines said. “That’s been the best part about being open, is reconnecting with the town. I think you lose something when you don’t know people. And as much as I love Target, I know, like, two of the cashiers. It’s a different type of feeling when you can connect with people and feel like a part of the town is yours.”

Working with her mother, whom she considers her best friend, has been great, Hines said.

“She was so supportive,” she said. “I had these wild ideas about Kannapolis, and she was just on board. She got the vision right away. I didn’t have to sell it to her. She was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’”

Nostalgia Hollow is at 1111 N. Main St. in Kannapolis. For more information, visit nostalgiahollowco.com.

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