The name of the road in front of Carolina Premium Outlets will change next month, and the affected businesses have mixed feelings.
Some shops and restaurants are fine with the change, while others, already frustrated by road construction, consider it a costly burden.
On Aug. 1, Industrial Park Drive will become Outlet Center Drive, and that’s just fine with the owner of the outlet center.
Karen Henthorn is director of marketing and business development for Carolina Premium Outlets. “We are pleased with the decision and expect that the new name will make it easier for shoppers to locate the center,” she said in a statement issued through the outlet center’s public-relations firm in New York City.
Rick Childrey, president of the Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce, largely shares that sentiment, as does Durwood Stephenson, executive director of the Highway 70 Corridor Commission.
“It’s a good way to market the outlet center,” said Childrey, whose office is on the road.
Added Stephenson, a former member of the N.C. Board of Transportation: “I guess the merchants are happy and most people are happy, and DOT agrees that it represents a reference to what’s actually there.”
Industrial Park Drive links U.S. 70 in Selma and U.S. 70 Business in Smithfield, both of which have interchanges with Interstate 95. With the name change, Stephenson thinks out-of-state travelers will find it easier to locate the outlet center.
But Childrey acknowledges that businesses with Industrial Park Drive addresses will have to go through the hassle of changing their addresses. And the name change, he added, could make it harder for travelers to find shops and restaurants if GPS devices don’t update their maps.
Jeannie McCarraher owns Triangle Treasures, one of the few non-chain shops in the outlet center. “I’m a very small business, and I am independently owned, and to have that expense ... is a very bad hardship at this point,” she said.
It’s especially a sore point after the protracted Smithfield Crossings road project, said McCarraher, who faces the expense of changing her business cards and stationery while sending address changes to dozens of vendors. “With all of the construction ... I think that’s been enough change for the last year,” she said.
The good news, said Smithfield town planner Paul Embler, is that the Smithfield and Selma post offices will deliver to Industrial Park Drive addresses for a year after the change.
The name Industrial Park Drive is a throwback to the days when the road’s main draw was an industrial park anchored by TV maker Sylvania. But retail took root when Smithfield’s Fleming family opened Carolina Pottery, which now anchors the sprawling outlet center.
Joshua Locklear, general manager of Cici’s Pizza, said he’s indifferent to the road name change and predicted it would not affect his business.
Ken Perry, general manager of Texas Steakhouse, agreed. “I don’t think the name change is going to be really that big of a deal for us,” he said, adding that he can go online to change his address with vendors.
But Sharon Davis of Shelton’s Harley-Davidson sees a problem: She’s bonded under the Industrial Park Drive address when she provides a motorcycle title.
“We’re not happy about it, because it’s going to take a lot for us,” she said. “It’s more than just going and changing your bill. For us, we’re going to have to change with the state.”
Locklear and Perry fret more about the Smithfield Crossings project. It took much longer than planned, and the new traffic circle is proving confusing to drivers.
“It was a mess,” Perry said of construction, which often flooded a chunk of his parking lot. “It took a year and a half longer than it was supposed to. It’s been a nightmare.”
From his restaurant, Locklear can see the traffic circle, and he said many drivers don’t know how to navigate it, literally leaving them going around in circles.
Smithfield Town Manager Paul Sabiston recently told Town Council members that the town is looking at more signage and permanent cones to keep people from going the wrong direction in the traffic circle.