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75 cwiti Winston-Salem Greensboro High Point vol xxvi no?i?
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16 N C ROOM 7974 - Celebrating 25 Years -1999
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WINSTON SALEM NC 21^0)^-2155
Boom or bust
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Photo by T. Kevin Walker
Jmcm Ingram, abova, smts up a display in thm window of hor Tradm Straat clothing storm. "Thmrm arm somm days whmn I comm harm and nothing happmns," shm said,
bmlmw, Audrmy iastmr straightmns mmrchandism at hmr shop, lastmr said shm's ablm to pay thm rmnt on hmr Tradm Strmmt shop but worrims that businmss will dry up.
Downtown businesses in battle for survival
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Following is the first of a three-part
series that will look at issues facing black
businesses on Trade Street and surrounding
BYT. KEVIN WALKER
THE CHRONICLE ?
When Margaret and Angela Vigil
decided to make the American dream of
owning a business a reality, the mother
and daughter duo set their sights on an
unlikely location - downtown.
The Vigils opened One of Kind Vin
tage Fashions more than two years ago in
a section of Trade Street that's lined with
swank art galleries, office buildings and a
small number of other tiny, mostly black
owned, retail shops.
Despite years of lofty promises of a
resurrection, downtown, for the most part,
remains a skeleton, its flesh torn away
years ago by white flight to the suburbs
and mall mania.
Trade Street, however, is attempting a
Di6dest turnaround and is developing a
repatatknTas the city's art district.
But the Vigils and other small retailers
want the lure of Trade to be more than
sculptures and colorful abstracts. They
stock their storefronts with their own kind
of art: mannequins dressed to the nines in
the best their boutiques have to offer.
"I think (downtown) is the best place
to be," Margaret Vigil said from her shop
last week. "It's convenient. It's famil
iar...(and) I see Trade Street as booming
right now. I think this area will come back
before the rest ot downtown will.
Margaret Vigil says she enjoys low rent
at her city-owned building, and she bene
fits from the popular gallery hop events
that regularly take place on Trade Street.
But all is not peachy.
In a city that's home to one of the
largest malls in the Southeast, many down
town retailers say they are guppies trying
to stay afloat with in a vast ocean of half
price and clearance sales.
"Most people think downtdWn is dead,
but we are not; we are here," said Angela
Vigil, as she surveyed her surroundings
outside of the shop.
Audrey Easter, owner of Audrey's
Boutique, says she is able to pay the rent,
but would like to see more faces downtown
and ih her shop. Easter's small store, which
she opened last September, is packed with
sophisticated business ensembles, hats and
intricate shawls and scarves.
"I carry sizes 6 through 24," she said
Easter says she has slow days and brisk
ones. She has found that in order to
increase traffic in her boutique, she has to
promote herself vigorously and educate
those who think that all downtown has to
offer is boarded-up storefronts and tat
In the past, Easter, the Vigils and other
shop owners have printed and distributed
fliers to promote their goods During the
National Black Theatre Festival, they set
up free refreshment stands in front of their
Jean Ingram has had colorful pens
her shop - Turning Heads Boutique -
printed on them. She often passes out
business cards when she is at social outings
and even slips handmade handkerchiefs
into customers' bags so that they will
always remember her quaint shop, which is
located in the WC Publishing Business
"There are some days I come here and
nothing happens." said Ingram, who had
30 years of retail experience under her belt
before launching her own business last
See ButiftM* on A4
Photo by T. Kevin Walker
Imam Khalid Griggs road* a
proclamation issued by tho
Black Leadership Kaundtable
decrying the demotion of three
black police officers.
BYT. KEVIN WALKER
Calling the demotions of three
African American police officers
"excessive," members of the Black
Leadership Roundtable threw their '
weight behind former sergeants
Steve Hairston, Victor Robinson
and Chuck Byrom and vowed to
use any means necessary to ensure
. that their stripes, good names and
reputations are returned.
"The Black Leadership Round
table calls upon City Manager Bill
Stuart to undo the grievous injus
tice done against officers Hairston,
Robinson and Byrom and begin
the process to restore them to their
original rank and restore any lost
wages that resulted from the demo
' tions," Imam Khalid Griggs, co
convener of BLR, read from a pre
pared statement. I;
The group says that if Stuart ist
"unwilling or incapable" of over-;
turning the promotions, it would
like the city to establish an indepen-.
dent grievance officer to rectify the
Griggs, BLR Convener Larry
Womble, Alderman Nelson Malloy
and others announced publicly
their displeasure with Police Chief
Linda Davis' decision to demote
the officers during a news confer
ence last week in front of Lawrence
Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum,
the site of a much-talked rap con
cert that cost the officers their
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featured multiple rap artists,
including Luther Campbell of 2
Live Crew fame, was marred by
fights among concert-goers and an
alleged on-stage sex act during
Complaints from citizens and
Alderman Fred Terry, whose teen
age son attended the concert, led to
an investigation by the city manag
er's office. The office made its
report public last month; it con
cluded that many factors led to the
free-for-all atmosphere at the con
cert, including lax supervision by
nine off-duty police officers who
were hired to work security at the
The officers were part of a secu
rity force that included non-polye
security guards and ushers
But the three sergeants the
highest ranking officers at the eon
cert. were the only ones demoted
Members of the Board of Alder
men criticized Stuart at a public
safety meeting last month for not
W DMnClltalM am A9
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