An online boot-seller's first retail store opened Friday in the the heart of the Fayetteville square, saving the historic Old Post Office, one of the city's oldest landmarks.
The Old Post Office has been sitting vacant since 2009 after the restaurant it housed closed.
The Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission attempted to buy the property in 2011 and 2012 to house the Fayetteville Underground, a home for area artists that includes galleries and artist events, but the $1 million deal fell through because the owner wanted $1.5 million and also because the commission lowered its offer later after an appraisal service assessed the property at $730,000, officials said. The property owner says the building had been assessed at $1.5 million.
While the historic building stayed vacant, some locals said they wanted a business to move in, to keep the Old Post Office up-to-date with historic preservation standards needed to keep the building on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Jim Huson, the owner of Doe's Eat Place, bought the building June 12 for $1.3 million. He leased it to Fayetteville-based Acumen Brands, Inc., to open Country Outfitters' flagship store.
Country Outfitters started selling western apparel and boots online in 2011. In August, 2012, the company began social media giveaways and had a growing online presence.
The boot-sellers decided to open it's first retail store in Fayetteville, the company's hometown.
"The revitalization of downtown was very important to us, with all the great shopping that’s around here. We wanted to be directly in the center of it, and we couldn’t be more honored to be in the Old Post Office,” store manager Cathy Campbell said.
The Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce is excited about what Country Outfitters can bring to Fayetteville and believes it's a good fit.
"They could have a choice to choose any store front, anywhere in Fayetteville, but true-to-form, for both the owner of the Old Post Office building, as well as for Acumen Brands, they want to make a statement, like a brand for Fayetteville,” said Chung Tan, director of economic development for the Chamber of Commerce.
The Old Post Office opened in 1911 and closed in the early 1970s. The building faced demolition, but public outcry saved the building in 1974. It was later placed on the National Register of Historic Places a few years later.
Fayetteville resident George Wheatley said he was pleased with how the historical integrity was kept.
"We were curious through the last few years why the building was not more happening...but we’ve just gone in to see the new store there and it’s fabulous, the building looks as good as ever,” he said.