Quick trivia question: Where is the largest display of infant furniture in all of North Carolina?
H. Stadiem on North Queen Street has been a shopping staple in downtown Kinston since 1903 with 34,000 square feet of floor space. The store originally sold only men’s clothing but is now a complete independent department store.
“This sounds cliché, but we offer great selection, great quality, excellent service and competitive prices,” says Hyman Stadiem, owner and president of H. Stadiem Inc. “We still sell men’s clothing with free, in-store alterations, but we offer so much more.”
H. Stadiem also carries big and tall men’s clothing, along with more than 3,000 pairs of men’s and women’s shoes. The store also features a children’s department that includes shoes, dress clothes and casual clothes, and the store is known for carrying the largest selection of infant furniture in the state.
“The only thing we don’t carry is women’s clothes – there are plenty of other stores in this area doing a good job at that,” Stadiem says. “Things are going very well for us, even in these economic times. A growing part of our business is formal rentals, and we are building a strong reputation in that clothing sector. Yes, if people want good, quality merchandise they can depend on, come see us.”
Kinston has several other distinct retail destinations, including shopping centers such as Frenchman’s Creek, Kinston Plaza, Park View and Vernon Park Mall. And the Vernon Park shopping center has one of the biggest workforces in Lenoir County, employing some 500 people.
Vernon Park also has more national-brand tenants than anywhere else in the county.
“We have anchors Belk, J.C. Penney and Sears, along with other national companies such as Chick-fil-A, Foot Locker, Hallmark and Hibbett Sports,” says Mike Ingalls, property manager at Vernon Park Mall. “We underwent major renovations five years ago to make us a modern regional mall, and Vernon Park is now a very attractive destination for shoppers of all ages.”
Several individual stores inside Lenoir County’s larger shopping centers are interesting in and of themselves. For example, The Villager, located at the Shops of Frenchman’s Creek, is a successful business that sells home décor items aimed at customers who reside on the coast.
“Our business has been here since 1953, and sales actually grew in 2008 during tough economic times,” says Russell Rhodes, president and CEO of The Villager. “We serve a distinct niche of customers – people who enjoy decorative items for their beach condominium or their inland home.”
The Villager also features coastal-style apparel, plus items such as gourmet coffees, hors d’oeuvres and other upscale food.
“We are somewhat unusual to begin with, but even more so because we have a food service that opens at 6 a.m. seven days a week,” Rhodes says. “What makes that so unusual? Most of our business at that early hour comes from fishermen heading out to the Neuse River and other local waterways.”
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