Faded roses blossom.

Author:Lea, Amanda
Position:NC TREND: Triangle Region

Family-owned retail stores once dominated North Carolina, led by the Belks, who built the largest U.S. privately held department store group, and the Levines, who established discount-store giant Family Dollar Stores. The Rose family of Henderson was a pioneer retailer, opening dozens of stores across Virginia and North Carolina, but it never achieved the same scale as its Charlotte-based peers. Though competition from Wal-Mart prompted a major downsizing, 160 Roses stores are still operating under the ownership of another Tar Heel family.

Following several failed business attempts, Paul Howard Rose borrowed money to take over a Henderson five-and-dime store in 1915. By 1927, the chain had 87 stores and sales of $3.5 million (equal to about $48 million now). By 1990, when Business North Carolina wrote about the company, it had 260 stores, annual sales of $1.5 billion and an $8.9 million annual profit. But the company was also facing intensifying competition from Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores. CEO Lucius Harvin III told BNC writer David Bailey of his plans to outwit its rival with smarter merchandising strategies. As was true for dozens of retailers nationally, Wal-Mart crushed Roses. The chain recorded $180 million in losses and closed about 40 stores from 1990-93.

A public company since 1927, Roses filed for reorganization in bankruptcy court...

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