Coats Business Closes After 70 Years

Pope’s True Value Hardware employee Johnny Odom, who has been working with the company off and on since high school, assists customer David Barbour. ‘These folks grew me up,’ Mr. Odom said.

A business that’s been part of the community for longer than most can remember is said goodbye this month to the people in Coats and the surrounding area.

After 70 years, Pope’s True Value Hardware in Coats Village Square on N.C. 55, next to Carlie C’s IGA, close its doors last Saturday. The merchandise and fixtures will be sold during an auction Saturday, Oct. 6, and the facility is currently for sale.

“We felt like it’s time to do it,” said President Tommy Pope, who along with his brother, Vice President Donald Pope, plan to retire.

The store that has been operated by three generations was founded in 1948 by Tommy and Donald’s grandfather, Paul Pope. When Paul Pope retired, Tommy and Donald’s uncle, William R. “Bill” Pope, took over. Tommy Pope joined the business as vice president in 1964 and became president in 2015 when Bill passed away. Bill’s widow, Sybil, now heads his estate.

“There’s a lot of history here,” said employee Johnny Odom, who has worked off and on at Pope’s over the last 35 or more years, starting right out of high school.

“These folks grew me up,” he said.

And a lot of history there is. The business originally started as a variety store, Pope’s 5-10-25 stores, and was located in downtown Coats along with warehouse facilities.

In the early 1980s, Bill Pope, along M.T. Strickland and Carlie C. McLamb of the adjoining Coats IGA store, bought the land and built the shopping center where the businesses are now located. That is when Pope’s joined the True Value Co-op and became Pope’s True Value Hardware.

At one time, Pope’s had a chain of 46 stores across North Carolina and Virginia, but Coats has always remained the location of the main office and warehouse. During the mid ’90s they began to start scaling back — selling, merging and moving stores — until dwindling down to just the one store in Coats.

Time To Wind Down

“It’s about time to wind things down,” Tommy Pope said.

The Popes have had the business up for sale over the past two years, but have not been able to find a buyer.

“We hate to close it for the community’s sake, but we couldn’t find anyone to carry it on,” Mr. Pope said, adding the store’s closing will leave a void.

“We’re going to miss it, because we enjoy meeting with the community,” he said, emphasizing how much he wanted to thank the public for all they have done to support them over the years.

“It’s been 70 years, we’ve had a great relationship,” he said.

The store is filled to the brim with everything from snake repellent to tools, and keys to plumbing supplies.

“Just about anything you would need to operate a house, we’ve got it here,” Mr. Pope said.

But more than the merchandise, the store is a place to go where the employees know you by name and it’s nice to just stop in for a visit.

“You can come here and talk — chit chat,” said David Barbour, a regular customer who lives about 3 miles outside of town.

“It’s a shame, after being here so long,” he said. “It’s a good store, it’s reliable, they treat you right … it’s very convenient.”

“I really hate it because they’re so close to where I live,” said Jerry Magnum, who came in to purchase some air conditioner filters.

“We’re going to miss them; good Christian people,” said Ann Miller of Coats who was in the store with her husband, Terry.

“A good asset, a valuable asset, gone,” said Mr. Miller. “The town’s going to miss them.”

-Dunn Daily Record