‘I cry a lot’: COVID-19 pandemic threatens to force Briggs Hardware from downtown Raleigh

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Briggs Hardware, through various forms and facades over the last 155 years, has been known for generations. It survived the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression, and the Great Recession.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the riots that came in the middle of it all have proven too much.

“It’s hard. I try to keep my chin up. I cry a lot,” said owner Evelyn Briggs Davis. “The last place I saw my daddy was walking out the door before he died.”

Business is bad. There have been multiple health issues among Briggs family members. Rent remains at pre-pandemic rates, and the lease is up at the end of August.

“I have sold rarely anything down here. It’s quiet. It’s a zombie land,” Davis said. “But, I do know for a fact that downtown is safe and it’s time to recover.”

She doesn’t have that kind of time as she decides whether to open up somewhere else or close altogether.

The store has always given people who live or work downtown easy access to those odds and ends, as well as the essentials. Davis said she will miss most what she does outside of that.

“I’ve become attached my homeless people. They aren’t my homeless people. They’re my friends. They tell me they love me. They call me mama, and the fact that I’m letting them down hurts,” she said. “The fact that I’m letting downtown down hurts, and it’s gonna be hard either way.”

Briggs has come through tough times before. It’s just a matter of how this next chapter will be written.

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