New face for old store

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 20, 2006

CORAPEAKE – A Corapeake couple has given new life to an old general store in Gates County.

Tom and Dorothy Howard realized a longtime dream with the opening of Carolina Country Arts & Crafts and General Store in Corapeake.

“For years we’ve had a dream of opening a gallery to celebrate the works of creative artists,” Tom Howard said.

The Howard’s moved to Corapeake a year and a half ago after purchasing the old general store located across from the Corapeake Country restaurant. According to Tom Howard, the store was built in the late 1920’s and served the community for years.

“In the 1950’s gas pumps were added and in recent years the store was used to sell odds and ends and restoring furniture,” Howard added.

Borrowing from his experience as carpenter and builder, Howard saw potential in the old store. “The store had been neglected for many years,” Howard said. “I knew it would take a lot of time and effort to restore the building, but the effort of preserving a community landmark has been a rewarding experience.

“Numerous folks in the community have dropped by during the restoration process to share their memories of the store,” Howard continued.

Divided into two areas, the store will appeal to a variety of tastes and shopping experiences. The gallery portion is reserved for handcrafted items.

“Dorothy’s interest in art began early in her life,” Howard said. “She served as a civilian artist for the United States Air Force and taught oil painting at vocational schools and workshops for years.

“Her vision for Carolina Country Arts and Crafts grew from a desire to promote local and regional artists and crafters,” Howard continued. “She feels that arts and crafts are an important part of our heritage and worth preserving for future generations.”

Dorothy Howard will also be offering classes in oil painting.

“To date, over 30 artisans have their works on display, providing a rich diversity of arts and crafts similar to what you will find at most quality craft fairs,” Howard said. “Examples include pottery, hand-carved birds and decoys, stained glass, wood-turned art, quilts, decorative wrought-iron items, pine needle baskets, Americana furniture, country and primitive deco items, oil paintings, photography, hand-made soaps, scented candles, handcrafted jewelry, etc.”

Copies of the award-winning documentary film “Corapeake” by filmmaker Kendrell Messick are available. The documentary aired on public television in 2002.

The General Store offers old-fashioned candies, gourmet popcorn, flavored coffees, specialty teas, nostalgic prints and signs, collectibles, yard flags and manufactured d\u00E9cor items made in the USA. Flowers and plants will be offered for sale under the awning and plans are being made for a Saturday farmer’s market to sell organic and locally grown fruits and vegetables.

“Numerous folks have stopped by and shared memories of the old general store,” Howard added. One visitor vividly remembered a shopping experience in the early 1950’s when she was a young girl. L.C. Brinkley was cutting pork chops and he accidentally chopped off the tip of his finger. During all of the commotion and the sight of the blood, the young girl passed out.

“As she fell, she hit her head and to this day the scar from the incident is still visible,” Howard concluded.

Carolina Country Arts & Crafts and General Store is now open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Additional information is available at 465 – 9978.