A few nonprofits and businesses in Chapel Hill reflect on local roots, biggest lesson learned and what’s next after celebrating a significant anniversary
Compiled by Katie MacKinnon and Jessica Stringer
Founded by Lynwood Sutton and Lucy Sutton, celebrating 100 years
Changes over the years When it was initially founded, Sutton’s had a pharmacy in the back, drugstore in the front and a lunch counter with high-top chairs to the side. Initially it operated as mainly a pharmacy with a place to stop and catch a meal, but then business started transitioning more toward [the restaurant]. In 2014, CVS bought the pharmacy and drugstore side of the business, so instead of closing the doors, it shifted only to the restaurant. Don Pinney, our current owner, has worked at Sutton’s for over 45 years. Don took 50% ownership in 1993 (he owned the kitchen/grill) but took full ownership in 2014.
Number of staff 13 employees at the Chapel Hill location
Success story It’s always been a success; the success has just looked different throughout the decades! It started as a successful pharmacy and then when the countertop lunches took off, the restaurant became a success. But no matter what business model we were operating under, our customers have always made us feel like a success – hence the pictures on the wall! We love to highlight those who have helped to keep us in Chapel Hill after all these years.
Hometown pride We would not have been able to survive during or post-pandemic without the amazing support of our “family.” In 2020, our family raised over $10,000 to keep our doors open. Without it, Sutton’s would not have survived.
Fun fact Because of our success at the Franklin Street Sutton’s, we were able to open another location just down the road (at 100 Europa Drive).
What’s next We’re still focusing on recovering from the pandemic. Thankfully, our landlord was gracious throughout the process, but financially we are not in the same place as we were before. Other than that, [at press time] we [were] getting excited for our 100th anniversary celebration on April 12 where the community can come together to celebrate.
Business-leadership, business-serving, community-impact and advocacy organization
Founded by local business leaders, celebrating 80 years
Changes over the years The chamber has grown and adapted to local business and local community needs over time. From an unstaffed association with a small budget serving Chapel Hill’s downtown businesses in the 1940s to a strong chamber of commerce with eight professional staff, 600-plus business members and a million-dollar budget serving the greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro region across three counties, the chamber now delivers a customer promise to connect, advocate, drive progress and build community.
Number of staff 8 professional staff
Success story We have always been a successful organization, but strong membership growth and retention, plus measurable positive impacts on our economy and our community, are hallmarks of our recent success.
Hometown pride The greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro region has all the attributes needed for success – a well-educated community, talented local workforce, strong downtowns, thriving university, unparalleled health care, high-quality schools and incredible local businesses.
Lessons learned Prioritize your customers, engage in your community, invest in employees, be entrepreneurial, be flexible and smile.
Milestone moment Becoming the first chamber in North Carolina to offer a health care benefit to its members when we launched the Small Business Health Program in partnership with Piedmont Health 15 years ago. By the numbers 80 years of service, 600-plus current members, 90,000 local member employees, 2,000-plus ribbons cut, over 10,000 businesses served and supported.
What’s next 80 more years of meeting and exceeding member expectations and leading successful economic and community development outcomes.
Corporation that functions as an art cooperative
Founded by a group of women who got together and established WomanCraft as an experiment to provide a creative outlet for women, as well as a source of income, celebrating 50 years
It takes a village Patti Paddock, Susan Konrad and Linda Brogan were instrumental in getting WomanCraft off the ground. Edna Green, Pat Stubblefield, Agnes Goughler, Sharon Gattis, Connor Causey, Wini McQueen and Laurie McAnulty were actively involved with the store at its inception as artists and supporters.
Number of members 26 members, 4 retired members, 33 consignors
Active artists We still have two active participants in the shop who joined the co-op in 1974. They are Paula Mattocks (textiles) and Karen Graves (joined as a potter but now owns Chapel Hill Toffee, which WomanCraft continues to sell at the shop). And we have customers who are family members of many of our past members as well as sons, daughters and grandchildren of our wonderful core customers.
Changes over the years Our physical location has changed five or six times through the years. Although we retain the name WomanCraft, we’ve had several male members and consignors over the years. And like other long-term businesses, we’ve modernized what we do with a more sophisticated inventory and sales tracking program and an active presence on social media.
Success story If you were to ask each person who has ever been a member or consignor at WomanCraft, you would probably get a different answer from each! Overall, the fact that we are still in business and we continue to be self-supporting speaks volumes to the dedication of our members and the loyalty of our customers.
Lessons learned There are many. WomanCraft’s success is based on the lovely handmade products we sell. But it also relies on its members who staff the store and run the business. All of our 26 members have a role to play, meeting with customers and carrying out sales. The members who serve on WomanCraft’s board and committees carry out all of the business functions of the organization (marketing, finance, orientation, product review, etc.), and none are compensated for it, other than through the commission they earn on sales.
Milestone moment After 50 years, the store has kept close to its original concept. And every customer who comes into the store is greeted by one of the artists who sell their goods in the store. We have no paid employees. The business is totally run by the artists. Over the past few years, WomanCraft members and consignors have given back to our community by donating a portion of sales to several organizations and causes including TABLE, Voices Together and many others.
By the numbers Last year, we had 5,300 sales transactions and sold more than 14,000 items. The items made by our textile artists accounted for nearly 20 percent of our sales in 2022, followed by pottery and jewelry. Items made from glass and wood are also big sellers.
What’s next Looking forward to another 50 years and finding ways to ensure that we’re able to do that.
24-hour home-cooked food
Founded by Val Williams and Eddie Williams, celebrating 45 years
Changes over the years We really exploded with our delivery business and takeout. COVID-19 was a time that really saw this take off. We have all the main delivery businesses working with us.
Number of staff 12-15
Success story [We saw a loyal following] pretty much right away.
Hometown pride It is a college town with people coming in all night long.
Lessons learned We have to stay true to our Southern food roots and not try to do too many menu items.
Milestone moment “Man v. Food” came twice to our store, and we really got a lot of attention from that.
Fun fact We have many famous people on our walls calling “TimeOut” – Michael Jordan and Roy Williams to name two.
What’s next We actually are getting set up to franchise with a company out of Miami. We are ready to work with anyone wanting to take TimeOut to another college town!
Founded by E.N. Richards, celebrating 50 years
Changes over the years The stores have rotated over the years, originally opening with Ivey’s, Belk and Roses stores. For a time, in 2010, the Chapel Hill Public Library had a temporary space here. Now there are many new businesses at the mall like Kidzu Children’s Museum, Silverspot Cinema and several specialty retailers and restaurants.
Hometown pride Historically, University Place has been a spot that feeds Chapel Hill’s functional needs and its creative desires, bringing people and culture together. The site was and is the town’s most central and social destination to buy goods, enjoy a seasonal meal or catch up with friends.
By the numbers The new development of University Place will include over 350,000 square feet of retail space, 250 residential units, 60,000 square feet of office space and 2 acres of public green space. Over nine new buildings will be constructed and approximately 140 new trees will be planted.
What’s next University Place is being transformed into a vibrant community hub, redefined to house a diverse mix of local retail, dining, working and living. Construction of the first phase is already underway, with leasing of the new apartments on track to begin in fall 2024.
Full-service public accounting firm
Founded by William C. Blackman and James H. Sloop, celebrating 50 years
Changes over the years While many things have changed over the years, the biggest change is the way we do our work. Technology, especially in the last three years, has become the cornerstone of how we work – making our processes more efficient and effective.
Number of staff 40
Success story We never questioned whether or not we were successful. There’s a simple reason for that: When our clients succeed, we have succeeded. Watching clients grow throughout the years has been very rewarding, as has the retention of our client base and the referral relationships we have created in the community.
Hometown pride Chapel Hill provides a very diverse economy and collection of people. We get to work with organizations like the university, the hospital and the numerous retirement living centers. It’s also been important to our firm to be part of the Research Triangle.
Lessons learned We have realized over the years that when we stay true to our core values, we stay on the right path. Our values have been pivotal in our success for the last half a century.
Milestone moment Our biggest accomplishment has been being in business for 50 years. Knowing that William and James were able to retire with the full faith that their firm was being led into the future is something we are proud of – making our founding members happy and proud of the work we continue to do.
By the numbers Blackman & Sloop has expanded from one card table and a box of donuts to more than 12,000 square feet and a 55-pound “portable” computer to a 3-pound laptop.
What’s next We look forward to inspiring another generation to become leaders of the firm and leaders of this great community over the next 50 years.
Founded by Kevin Callaghan, celebrating 25 years
Number of staff 40+
Success story When I got to take a vacation in year seven or eight.
Hometown pride Carrboro is a small town that cares a lot about local businesses and local food.
Lessons learned The true reward is the work that I get to do every day.
Milestone moment Navigating the pandemic and creating Carrboro United. And, well, surviving for 25 years.
By the numbers We passed 1 million guests and gave our millionth customer cornbread for life.
What’s next Our sister cocktail bar, Atlas, in downtown Carrboro.
Founded by Dr. Sue Ellen Cox, celebrating 25 years
Changes over the years When Dr. Cox began practicing dermatology over 25 years ago, there was no such thing as “aesthetic dermatology.” An early and passionate believer in the power of effective, minimally invasive aesthetic treatments, Dr. Cox worked hard to shape the field with her values: rigorous scientific evaluation of every treatment, an emphasis on safety and appreciation for subtle, natural-looking results. She is now an internationally recognized expert in facial rejuvenation using lasers, injectable fillers and neuromodulators.
Number of staff 20
Success story Dr. Cox says, “When I started to see patients from my early years move away, and they would fly back from out of state for an appointment with me.”
Hometown pride The Chapel Hill community has been so supportive since day one. We are very appreciative of the love and support from the community.
Lessons learned Never stop learning and improving. There is always something to learn!
Milestone moment Dr. Cox served as the president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery 2021-22, was voted to the list of Best Doctors in America by physician peers every year since 2005, lectures internationally and directs national workshops. Here at home, she teaches cosmetic dermatology clinics to residents at the UNC School of Medicine and Duke University Medical Center. She has been a contributing editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology since 2003, among many other accomplishments.
By the numbers 100-plus publications and 100-plus clinical trials.
What’s next Adding new treatments, expanding the team and opening our renovated downstairs space in 2023 to add additional treatment rooms.
Nonprofit providing a “home-away-from-home” for families battling childhood illness who must travel from across the state and beyond to Chapel Hill for specialized medical care
Celebrating 35 years
It takes a village The Carolina Pediatric-Family Center at Chapel Hill, Inc. with support from N.C. Memorial Hospital, McDonald’s, community supporters like Woody Durham, who served as the honorary fundraising chair, Margie Haber, McDonald’s owner-operators Mike Haley, Mildred Pretty and Barry Traub. Gennie Polk, who served as the original BOD president, and Eric Munson, then-executive director of N.C. Memorial Hospital, were also involved with the efforts to open the house. There were many other members of the greater community responsible for bringing the Ronald McDonald House to Chapel Hill.
Changes over the years The original Ronald McDonald House was a 20-bedroom facility. In 2001, an additional 10 rooms were added. In 2011, we celebrated the grand opening of the Ronald McDonald Family Room located on the seventh floor of N.C. Children’s Hospital. In 2015, we opened a 24,000-square-foot expansion that added 24 additional rooms, suites and eight two-bedroom apartments to the campus. The expansion also features a 1-acre courtyard garden featuring our grass menagerie and was included in the 2022 Chapel Hill Garden Tour.
Number of staff 20 full- and part-time staff, 90 regular volunteers, 20 board members
Success story We knew it was a success when the first family stayed with us. We’ve been building on that success for the past 35 years.
Hometown pride The Chapel Hill community has truly embraced us and our guest families since we first opened. Their generous support financially, their time through volunteering and contributions of necessary items have sustained this mission for 35 years. Their ongoing support has helped us grow to where we are today.
Lessons learned Helping those in need is the greatest gift we can give to one another.
By the numbers Last year, we served 1,293 families with 10,386 nights of lodging.
What’s next Coming July 1, RMH Chapel Hill and RMH Durham & Wake are joining forces to become RMHC of the Triangle. As a result, we will be the eighth largest out of 185 RMHC organizations in the U.S and the 13th largest out of 383 in the world. This will enable us to provide expanded services to even more pediatric patients and their families when it matters most.
Founded by Lauren Yerby Bolick, celebrating 20 years
Family affair Lauren is still the sole owner although her sister-in-law Sunni Yerby also now works at the studio. Her brother, Chad Yerby, and her father, Chris Yerby, have previously worked there, so it is truly a family business! Her mom, Ellen Yerby, and her boyfriend, David Stuart, are always very involved volunteering and supporting the entire TTP family! Her daughter, Blair, 10, is very involved as a dancer, her nephew, Trox, 6, takes multiple classes a week, and her 7-year-old identical twin boys, Brax and Bear, are in the studio almost every day (although Lauren can’t get them to dance!).
Changes over the years Growth! We have grown in numbers of students, in number of offerings, in number of staff, into larger buildings, but the biggest growth is seen in the lives impacted by what we do. Lauren started the business as an inexperienced 23-year-old and has grown and learned so much from all the wonderful students and families who have been a part of the program and supported her along the way. We also have the extreme privilege of watching young people grow, some starting as dancers as young as 2 who grow and graduate high school still a part of our program.
Number of staff 8 full-time employees, but we have so many who are seasonal or still very involved with operations, events, etc.
Success story When our alumni started to come back to work as staff members!
Hometown pride Lauren taught dance at a studio in Hillsborough for three years while a student at UNC. After taking a year away from the dance studio to use her majors in economics and political science by working in the finance industry in Wilmington, she returned to Hillsborough to open To The Pointe. Additionally, many of our students live in Chapel Hill, we use Chapel Hill High School for our recitals, and our studio logo is Carolina blue!
Lessons learned How important it is to stand by our vision of helping shape our dancers into exemplary young people and leaders in their community through the lessons of hard work, discipline, personal accountability, commitment and dedication.
What’s next We actually have a move on the horizon!
Founded by Jim Furgurson, celebrating 10 years
Family affair I’m still here every day. My wife, Lynn Furgurson, is also involved with back-end operations. Her expertise as a CPA has been key in supporting our growth over the past 10 years.
Changes over the years This was my first time being a business owner/manager/boss. There was a steep learning curve in the first five years and a lot of valuable lessons learned. Perhaps the biggest change was in 2016 when we acquired the practice of Dr. David Hoyle (formerly the practice of Dr. David Dobson). Doubling the size of our patient base and team as well as blending two office cultures was a new challenge. In that transition, we were fortunate to bring over Dr. Nathan White, who I had known from dental school. We’ve added new services and technology over the year, too.
Number of staff 14 full-time staffers
Hometown pride Our area has an educated, discerning and health-conscious population that values the comprehensive, individualized, high-quality care we offer.
Lesson learned Stay committed to your vision; surround yourself with those who share that vision.
Milestone moment In 2019, I was asked to become a faculty member for the Clinical Mastery Series, a dental education continuum that I had been through years earlier. Being asked to join the clinical faculty and work alongside my own mentors has been invaluable.
By the numbers We were able to acquire an adjacent office condo, and in 2022 were able to extend the hallway through a wall and go from 2,500 square feet to 4,300 square feet. Five treatment rooms to nine treatment rooms, one hygienist to four hygienists.
What’s next Working with Renu Mathias Interiors on the redo of our waiting room and treatment presentation room.
Sundays at Sundown Music Series
Live music at Southern Village
Founded by D.R. Bryan and Danny Gotham, celebrating 20 years
Changes over the years It has grown tremendously in terms of size and name recognition.
Fun facts The series actually began in 2002 when we did live music on the green before The Lumina Theater’s Saturday night outdoor movies. For various reasons, it did not go well. At the end of the season, D.R. Bryan suggested that we try it again the following year on Sundays. That was the match that lit the fire. One other tidbit from about 15 years ago when Tres Chicas was performing on the green: I had recently discovered two extraordinary young musicians who were just beginning to perform and record, and I invited them to do a warmup set. They had just decided on a name for their duo: Mandolin Orange (now Watchhouse). After they finished performing, I went to the microphone and told the crowd to remember this performance because I was certain these two were going places. I think it’s safe to say that I got that one right.
Milestone moment The music series in 2020. We were all staying inside because of the pandemic, and the village green was silent. After assuming that the music series would be canceled, it was decided to stream live performances online. There were some rough patches, but the show went on.
What’s next We have expanded the series to add some weeknight shows during the summer months. We are also trying to broaden the stylistic breadth of our musical offerings. We are adding some Thursday night open mic/karaoke this season, and that will be a lot of fun.
Custom framing, fine art printing and more
Founded by Jim Heavner, celebrating 50 years
Changes over the years It has changed from selling art prints in the 1980s with some custom framing to now focusing on custom framing, archival printing, conservation of art, delivery, and we sell art prints in our online website store.
Number of staff 5 full-time staff, 3 part-time staff (for two stores).
Success story [We knew we were doing things right] probably when we modernized that store after purchase and began to really focus on what customers of today really need which is custom framing and archival printing, conservation of art, installation and delivery. Over the past nine years, we have acquired the most qualified, educated and professional staff to the team. Paying the staff well and offering an incentive program and benefits helps to maintain our team for the long term.
Lesson learned Never give up and never let your guard down, keep thinking outside the box on ways to make things better.
Milestone moment The Artist Frame HUB which we started in fall of 2022 as our community giveback program.
What’s next We are now in our “forever home” at University Place with our new outside location on Estes Drive. What’s next is to continue our services to our community as University Place gets its much needed renovation. We plan to offer more art exhibits that focus on and support our local artists, and we plan to expand the Artist Frame HUB.