An Open Door for Hurricane Victims
Pembroke Hardware went above and beyond to supply a community in needBy Gordon Byrd
Pembroke Hardware, a business powered by Red Springs-based Lumbee River EMC, stayed open throughout the height of Hurricane Florence to continue serving customers.
“That was Daddy’s way,” says General Manager Lindsey Locklear of his father, Curt Locklear. Despite the storm, Lindsey and his siblings kept regular business hours all through the disaster. “In Hurricanes Matthew and Florence, we had no power or phone lines so we just wrote down purchases on credit, like the old days.”
“Curt’s,” the eponymous local name for the Pembroke True Value store, is a fixture among the community as much as collard sandwiches and grape ice cream.
“Curt’s legacy is in service to the community and credit, credit, credit,” a local patron recalls. “Credit was king when Curt started, and he stood up most the drywallers on credit.”
Credit relies on a strong community and a good memory. Pembroke Hardware has both.
Curt Locklear was a veteran from World War II. That is where Curt met Colonel Earl Lowry, MD. General Eisenhower’s personal physician, Dr. Lowry was walking the rooms of a Paris hospital when he saw a patient named “Locklear.” Knowing he would find a Robeson native, he walked into the life of Private Curt Locklear. Curt had entered the hospital after a motorcycle accident. Dr. Lowry never let Curt live it down. To remember his friend, Curt kept a model of the very motorcycle on his desk in the store. It is there to this day.
Maintaining close ties does not only extend to Curt’s army friends. “Even if a customer calls at night, we will get the doors open. We’ve done it for years,” Lindsey recalls.
The store is typically closed Sundays, and the store’s employees were hit hard by mid-September’s Hurricane Florence. But the storm created a dire need for water, generators, gas tanks and the countless other items that become vital amidst power outages and flood waters.
“No matter what the weather is doing, it is about what the customers need. That’s the way Daddy operated,” Lindsey explains. “Staff couldn’t make it, so we called in all the family and friends on Saturday.”
The Locklear family was sheltering four displaced families in their home. When the floods kept some staff at home, Lindsey recruited his refugees to stock shelves and serve customers. When employees returned, Lindsey shifted his efforts to coordinating distribution of donated supplies for the Red Cross and local church ministries.
“All our life we opened up for one customer in need,” Lindsey says. “Now we’ve delivered to [those] trapped in their homes.”
As the Pembroke community pulls out of its second flood within two years, Curt’s legacy of serving the community continues to build a stronger, more resilient Robeson county.
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