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Mix of old and new: Landis business owners talk growth

By Liz Moomey
liz.moomey@salisburypost.com

LANDIS — A new barbecue restaurant, shops that are settling in and others that have continued to grow encompass the town of Landis.

There is a buzz: how will the completion of Interstate 85 affect the town, especially in terms of growth?

Blair Phillips of Blair Phillips Photography at 117 South Central Avenue said he has already seen businesses popping up at neighboring China Grove.

“More business will start to come this way,” Phillips said. “You already see it in the town that’s north of us in China Grove. You’re seeing more and more commerce coming.”

Several doors down, Don Peterson opened Little Towne Collectibles, Antiques and Gifts two years ago after going to antique malls. They chose Landis because the buildings were cheap.

“It’s fun,” Peterson said. “You buy the stuff and then sell it. Sometimes you make money. Sometimes you lose money. It is what it is. It’s a give-or-take situation.”

He said he was excited about the growth I-85 will bring, adding he plans on opening an Old Town hardware store. 

New to the area is Blake Simpson, who opened Vintage Pig, a barbecue restaurant at 1013 S. Main Street on Nov. 7.

He said Landis has a lot of potential, but isn’t going to rely on a possibility .

“I’m not about the dollar,” Simpson said. “I’m about having this business open for 30 years. The money will come as long as I do what I’m supposed to do.”

Chuck Freeze of Chuck’s Trains, though, is ready to leave Landis. He said he sees the growth of the highway but doesn’t think it will impact Landis. He plans on moving his business out of Landis in the near future to Davidson County where he lives.

Phillips said the main crutch of Landis in terms of growth is the negativity of some of the citizens.

“The reason why we don’t have the commerce here, in my opinion — it all starts with the society that is here,” Phillips said. “When you have a lot of negative people and you don’t have the support from people in the town, you’re not going to have the growth that you really need or want.”

For Simpson, having more customers would help him with ensuring the food is fresh. 

“In the restaurant business, especially where I’m at, portion control is big, because I have to cook my shoulder 16 hours in advance,” Simpson said. “I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen 16 hours before, but the more volume you do it makes it easier on me where quality control is in effect. If I’m busy and run out, everything is fresh all the time.”

He sees having more business as a way to also provide more jobs for Landis.

“Growth would help the town and it would help me give more jobs,” Simpson said.

Adapting to the market is key. For Freeze, he sells 99 percent of his products online, but a store was a necessity.

“I don’t depend on that door,” Freeze said.

Southern Ark Boutique owners Jennifer Meeks and Stephanie Beaver saw an opportunity after noting how expensive boutique clothes were for their children. With $1,000 each, they opened up an online store. Later they opened up their brick-and-mortar store on South Central Avenue.

“People like to come in and just look,” Meeks said. “We have a lot of moms. A lot of them will buy online and then come in the store to pick up, so it’s easier for them because running around with kids is really hard sometimes to shop. We have a large online presence and a large online group, so a lot of our moms get together and they can talk about different styles they want to see, sizing.”

Phillips said photography first began as an interest. Now he has his own studio and shoots school sport portraits in most high schools in Rowan and Cabarrus counties. He also does yearbook portraits and senior photos.

“My wife bought me a professional-grade camera, and I didn’t know a whole lot about it, but I went and took pictures. I would take them to the drug store lab and get them processed and I will never forget the defining moment in mind. The lady processing said ‘Come here a minute. Bring those back in here.’ I turned and was like ‘What’s wrong?’ I hadn’t opened them yet. She said, ‘those are some of the best pictures I have ever seen come through here.’ At the time, I was thinking ‘Wow that’s amazing.’ To sit back and really think about it, this drug store lab was probably not very hard to impress that lady with some good pictures.”

Simpson said he wants to settle into Landis and says that can be done with consistency.

“I want to be here for a long time,” Simpson said. “Again, I’m only 32 so I’d love to do it for a long time. The biggest thing that I like is consistency, customer service and of course the food quality, but I think consistency is a very big thing. I will be in here, in the trenches making sure that we can produce consistency, which is consistently a good product at a low price with good service.”

Assistant town manager Brandon Linn, who also is the planning and development administrator of Landis, had a message to the business owners in Landis: Just be patient, growth is coming.

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