The Slocum Shopping Center was Havelockís retail hub during the 1950s and 1960s.
The Slocum Shopping Center was Havelockís retail hub during the 1950s and 1960s. Today, it still features a variety of locally-owned businesses where customers can get a haircut, find a gift or craft, or have their clothing altered or cleaned.
Workers are nearing completion of renovations to the shopping center that include new siding, a new roof and new signs that current business owners in the complex say is much needed.
"Itís going to be good," said Fred Falls, manager of Sharkyís Tavern. "It had an old look. It was definitely needed."
He said he was most impressed with the new signs that have been installed in front of all the businesses in the center.
"For the new people, no one knew we were here because there were no signs," Falls said. "The old people, they know where Sharkyís is, but for the new clientele, they were just not showing up."
Marieís Alterations does a lot of work with Marine Corps uniforms as well as nicer suits and dresses.
"It looks like a real business establishment," Pablo Gomez, owner of the shop, said of the renovations. "It looked good before but now itís beautiful."
Customers who visit the 10 stores that make up the complex have noticed the changes.
"It looks real nice," Hilda Carter said as she waited for her clothes to dry at the Stars and Stripes Laundromat. "I come in here every week, sometimes twice per week, and it looks real nice."
She said the new look of the shopping center could bring in some new customers.
"A lot of people like it already," she said of the laundromat. "Itís already the cheapest in town. But it looks better than the old one."
Gomez said he has received compliments from customers about the new look and new sign.
"They say it looks a lot better," he said. "They said they would try hard to look for it, but with the sign, they can see it."
And he said the signs would light up during the night, drawing even more attention to the businesses in the shopping center.
"They turned on the lights to test it, and it looked like a busy boulevard," Gomez said.
Ken Schulte, who owns the complex, said the new signs have LED lights.
"Each one of the individual owners had input on the signs," he said. "We had each one approve them before we rolled them out."
Without being specific, Schulte said the cost of the renovations has reached six figures, but he said the project was all about improvement to the shopping center.
"We just wanted to make the place look nicer," he said. "We wanted to change."
Schulte said the renovations had nothing to do with a March 2011 fire that gutted two businesses and damaged six others in the complex. He said work to fix those businesses had already been completed.
He said the tenants are good business owners who enjoy good rates and the benefit of being in the heart of Havelock. He credited G.A. Jones Construction with the work.
"Itís one of the best-looking spots in Havelock," Schulte said.
Scott Chase, city planning director, also complimented the look of the shopping center.
"Itís always good for a customer to shop at a business that looks good," he said. "I hope this is the start of a redevelopment trend."
As for the owners in the complex, they hope the improved look of the complex is good for their businesses.
"It looks a lot better than it used to be," Gomez said. "I hope it attracts more customers. They can see it now. Itís a big improvement."