MOUNT AIRY, N.C. (WGHP) — Main Street businesses in Downtown Mount Airy were back open Saturday after the Main Oak Emporium collapsed.

The collapse on Tuesday forced the closure of many shops and restaurants in the area. Even though their doors are now open, the customers haven’t come back yet.

Caution tape still lined part of North Main Street in downtown Saturday morning.

“It just seems that you can’t get where you need to go and people are wanting to come up and see but there’s nowhere to park, nowhere to go,” said Mark Wyatt, who owns Wyatt’s Trading Post.

People strolled and window shopped on the half of the street that was unaffected by the collapse.
The other half, which is still partially closed, saw very few visitors.

“Typically, on a Saturday in Mount Airy, North Carolina, it would be bumper to bumper traffic and people walking, laughing, having a good time,” said Wyatt. “Today, it’s sad.”

Wyatt’s store usually has more than 20 people shopping at a time on weekends during the summer. This week, he only had a handful of customers.

“It doesn’t look like we’re open,” he said. “We’re trying to keep signs out like all the other stores and get balloons whatever to try to attract people’s attention.”

Crews took down that caution tape around lunchtime Saturday. More parking spots opened and it became easier to get around. Owners hope this will bring more people to this side of Main Street.

“All the businesses pretty much are open now,” said Chris Sutphin, who owns Barney’s Cafe. “Downtown is open and I think everybody should go ahead and come out.”

A few parking spots were still blocked by signs and cones. The area around Main Oak Emporium was fenced off.

Once the tape came down, things started picking up.

“I decided to come by and support the stores and do a little shopping, see the damage that was done,” said Kenneth Sharp, who visited from King. “I love the historical part of the downtown and I really hate it collapsed. I’m hoping they can save the front.”

Tables inside Barney’s Cafe started filling up as people got hungry after exploring downtown.

“The breakfast is going to be a little slower,” said Sutphin. “Some of the older customers that come in, they don’t have a place to park on the street close by so I think it might impact that for a little while. But today so far has been a good day.”

While these owners wait for things to get back to normal, they’re reminding you their doors are open.

“I think we can weather this storm but like any small business, it depends on constant foot traffic,” said Wyatt.

Officials haven’t said yet what caused Main Oak Emporium to collapse. Surry County inspectors are working to figure out how much of the historic building they can save.