AUTRYVILLE — With plans for the four-laning of N.C. 24 into Sampson County drawing closer, so, too, are the questions, particularly among residents who live in towns that will be bypassed when the new road id complete. But merchants in the western Sampson town of Autryville aren’t that worried, although the current roadbed runs right through the middle of town.
Some might think businesses will be hurt when the bypass comes, but Autryville merchants do not see it as such a bad thing.
Autryville mayor Patricia Williams, who also is co-owner of B.A. Construction with her husband, said the town will lose some revenue because of the widening of the road and construction of the bypass since it will mean the relocation of some homes in the path of the new road.
“The town will lose revenue due to the houses that are going to be loss and the revenue from those water customers that we will be losing also. Hopefully we get some people moving into replace those customers we lost. In a small town like ours, just a few customers and loss of tax base can truly affect the town’s income,” asserted the mayor.
The mayor did stress that the bypass would have little to no affect on their business, however. “Most of our business is conducted over the phone and I do not see the road being moved as any cause for concern to our business. I do not see it affecting it at all,” remarked Williams.
Debbie Jones, owner and operator of Big Daddy’s Grill she did not feel any threat to her business due to the N.C. 24 bypass either.
“We serve breakfast and lunch, and the majority of our customers are all local. Most of them are farmers and many eat both breakfast and lunch with us every day. We also get a lot of construction people that are working in the area. We have people coming from Cedar Creek and Beaver Dam to eat with us. I just don’t see where the new road will make things change much,” said Jones.
Big Daddy’s Grill has been around since the mid 80’s but under several different names, though it remains best known as the Pool Room.
“We have a little different clientele than what Pittman (Horne of the Corner Grill), has. The farmers and laborers that come in here are coming from their work sites and feel comfortable taking time to eat here. We are even getting a lot of women and children coming in. Some may think because we do have pool tables we might be a different type of grill. We are a family oriented business, do not have alcohol and cater to families. The new road will hopefully be a good thing. We just have to keep a positive attitude,” cited Jones.
Town commissioner, fire chief and businessman Jakie Faircloth echoed the remarks of others, saying he didn’t see the bypass as a negative for his business.
“Look out there (pointing to N.C. 24), you don’t see anyone throwing a hubcap turning in here do you? My customers are farmers and local people. When they need something, they come here. If you provide good service, your customers will keep coming back,” expressed Faircloth.
Faircloth owns and operates Autryville Hardware, Lawn & Garden. He bought the business last year but had previously worked there when it was the Western Auto.
“The N.C. 24 bypass will not affect me personally in my business,” Faircloth reiterated. “I think it might even be a good thing. Cars drive by here all day long and never stop. I rely on my regular customers and they come back because we try to provide them what they need with quality service. My customers will come here before traveling to Stedman, Fayetteville, Dunn, Clinton or Elizabethtown. I don’t see that changing with the bypass coming, if it ever does,” stated Faircloth with a smile. “I do not see it affecting the town as a whole much either. The biggest concern will be the convenience of getting into town once the bypass is finished. It might make it safer for people to come in due to the reduction of traffic,” said Faircloth.
Pittman and Betty Horne own and operate the Autryville Corner Grill, and Pittman does not see anything negative coming from the future bypass either.
“I really don’t see the new road having any impact on us that is negative. The reduced traffic flow may even make it easier for our customers to be able to come into the restaurant. Traffic at times can make it difficult for most people to get around. We are a local based business and the majority of our customers are local. We have some construction workers who come eat with us when they are nearby but for the most part they are local people who are regulars,” explained Horne.
“The actual exits into town may affect the accessibility but since our customer base is very loyal, they will continue to come. I just hope the exits will not cause any inconvenience to them. I don’t see it affecting our Thursday night sing at all. I expect that everyone will continue to come in for the entertainment and fun they have each Thursday. I see the bypass as a possible good thing. It may even be an opportunity for our community to grow,” responded Horne.