CHAPEL HILL – Carolina Pride Sportswear, a landmark on Franklin Street for almost 30 years, closed its doors Tuesday night. Store manager John Hudson said business took a turn for the worse about a year ago. He said it’s partly due to what he calls a down economy on Franklin Street.
“I think the foot traffic is nowhere near what it used to be. I came here in 1971, and I remember it used to take you 10 minutes to walk down the 100 Block at lunchtime,” Hudson said.
The store hosted a going-out-of business sale to clear the remaining merchandise Tuesday night. By Wednesday, the store, once full of all things Carolina, was almost empty.
Hudson said competition from the four other UNC merchandise stores on Franklin, as well as UNC Student Stores, hurt Carolina Pride’s business, making it hard to pay rent.
“I know the landlords have X-amount invested, and they wanted X-returns, so it’s a tough spiral. And I would say the worst recession in the last 50 years didn’t help us,” Hudson said.
Walgreens recently opened down the road, selling less expensive Tar Heel sportswear.
Hudson also said a National Championship in men’s basketball translates into big-time revenue. UNC hasn’t won the coveted championship since 2009, but Hudson believes they could have in 2012 if Kendall Marshall hadn’t broken his wrist against Creighton. He said that could have made a difference in the store’s financial stability to some extent.
“I don’t know if long-term that keeps us open, but it certainly could have made us viable for another three year renewal and to be able to turn things around. But that’s just part of the game,” he said.
Hudson has been the store’s manager for almost 20 years. Seeing the store shut down hasn’t been easy.
“I’ve spent an awful lot of my life in this store, so I’m pretty dang sad. I have a lot of fond memories and some of those good byes were difficult,” he said.
Carolina Pride is not the only business to close on Franklin Street. Pepper’s Pizza, after decades in Chapel Hill, closed in March. Kildare’s Irish Pub also shutdown unexpectedly just before St. Patrick’s Day. Jake’s Pizzeria and Jack Sprat Café closed recently as well.