In 1996, after operating for more than 150 years, the mill shut down as a result of lower demand for its products, higher cotton prices, and increasing competition. Its brick walls, tall windows, and wooden floors sat quietly for about two decades. But that spirit of entrepreneurship couldn’t be snuffed out. In 2018, after undergoing extensive renovations by the Capitol Broadcasting Company, the mill opened once more. Now everyone, including women and people of color — two groups that wouldn’t have had the same opportunity when the mill originally opened — can establish new businesses and chase big dreams. And that energy has spread beyond the mill’s boundaries, inspiring other Rocky Mount locals to pursue their own ambitions.
The feature highlights several Rocky Mount Mills shops and eateries on the list, including hands-on craft shop Pinspiration, restaurants like The Prime Steakhouse, Tipsy Tomato, Tap @ 1918 and the café/book store Books & Beans.
Books & Beans owner and best-selling author Etaf Rum talked with Klingstedt for the feature, who wrote:
“When Rum moved to Rocky Mount from Brooklyn, New York, in 2008, she didn’t think that opening a business like Books and Beans would be possible. ‘There was barely any diversity and not many places to eat,’ she says. ‘The [renovation of the] mill really changed everything — now there are women-owned businesses and businesses owned by people of color. I’m proud to be somewhere that represents the plurality of Rocky Mount.’”