Local Businessman Urges Revitalization of Columbia’s Downtown Area

Published 2:31 pm Sunday, April 6, 2014

Tim Nielsen owns Maggie Dukes Antiques in downtown Columbia

Tim Nielsen owns Maggie Dukes Antiques in downtown Columbia

Columbia, NC has often been referenced as the “gateway to the Outer Banks”.

Local business owner Tim Nielsen, owner of Maggie Duke’s Antiques, hopes that Columbia can someday capitalize on that title and its strategic location along Highway 64.

Nielsen, in an open letter to the Tyrrell County community, and in the online magazine the Scuppernong Gazette, refers to the “Historic District Business Group for the Development and Preservation of Business in Our Historic District.”

“We have watched Plymouth NC with dismay, as business continues to betray an idyllic and historic downtown in favor of new locations out on Highway 64. This is understandable, as commerce must follow or reroute traffic. Plymouth’s Riverfront Business District never had a chance, trying to encourage travelers through three or four blocks of neighborhoods,” says Nielsen in opening portions of his letter.

Nielsen notes that Columbia, does not have this problem yet. However, he cites the relocation of the Hotline Thrift Store and the new ABC Store as signs that Columbia might have similar problems down the road.

“And who could blame the new Chinese Restaurant for choosing its high-traffic site?” says Nielsen.

The advantages of having one of North Carolina’s busiest rest areas and the location of Pocosin Arts’ Riverside Lodge and the Old Salt Oyster Bar are already helping bring people to Columbia.

“I have really good business on the weekends. People always ask what else is open. I send them to the winery. But when people want to buy ice cream, I send them to Food Lion,” said Nielsen.

Nielsen noted that a group of like-minded people could discuss ideas for helping downtown Columbia such as, securing and placing distinctive signage for Columbia’s Historic District, developing an email sign-up book for the Visitors Center, designing a “Visiting Boaters Kit” to promote business within walking distance of the local docks, bringing the Crab Festival as an annual event, and helping prospective retailers to locate in the District.