Window shopping: Interactive touchscreen provides new tool for prospective home buyers

By Ben Stansell

SALISBURY — A downtown Realtor is giving “window shopping” a new meaning.

The Jayne Helms Group with Re/Max Leading Edge has installed an interactive touchscreen on its window pane at 108 N. Main St. that allows customers to sift through available homes and properties in and around Rowan County — all while standing on the sidewalk in Salisbury.

“It’s kind of a unique thing,” Helms said.

Jayne Helms demonstrates the capabilitiesof the new touch-screen window at her real estate office in downtown Salisbury. Ben Stansell/Salisbury Post
Jayne Helms demonstrates the capabilities of the new touch-screen window at her real estate office in downtown Salisbury.. Ben Stansell/Salisbury Post

Helms said the touch-screen displays are popular in Europe and are starting to catch on in the States. She had never really heard of the device until she was approached by Premier Media Solutions, a company with offices in the United States and United Kingdom. The company installed the screen, which looks like a gigantic iPhone, a few months ago. The screen is available 24/7 for home buyers who want to do some home searching while the office itself is closed.

The screen may be somewhat of a novelty, but Helms said it’s an effective tool for home buyers or sellers. With a live feed of properties from both the Charlotte and Triad multiple listing services, the window gives customers the opportunity to scroll through dozens, if not hundreds, of homes currently on the market.

If a customer finds a property they’re interested in, they can submit an inquiry directly on the device. The inquiry is immediately forwarded to Helms’ office for follow up. Or, Helms said, interested customers can just pop into the office to ask about a property.

“It’s really been a great tool for us to get people to come in off the street,” Helms said.

And acting fast pays off in today’s real estate landscape, according to Helms.

“I put a house on the market two weeks ago and I got 16 offers in two days,” Helms said. 

The demand for homes, she said, is being driven by low inventory and relatively low interest rates.

“I’ve been doing this almost 20 years and we’ve never had such low inventory and high demand,” Helms said. “It’s really good. There’s never been a better time to sell a house than there is now. It’s hard to find one, but it’s a great time to sell.”

With mortgage rates projected to increase in the future, Helms said the home-buying frenzy could cool soon. No matter the market, buyers can search for their next home with a few taps of their fingers using the interactive touchscreen at Helms’ office.

Let’s make a deal: Local athlete, barber form unique partnership

Daniel King, right, and Jaden Gaither have struck a partnership. In exchange for free haircuts and merchandise, Gaither will represent King's barbershop brand when he goes off to play football at UNC Pembroke. Photo submitted.

By Ben Stansell

SALISBURY — The landscape of college sports was remade last year when the National Collegiate Athletic Association altered its rules to allow players to make money by leveraging their status as well-known athletes.

With the new Name, Image and Likeness rules — commonly referred to by the acronym NIL — athletes can now monetize their personal brands to a greater degree without fear of penalty from the NCAA. Since the floodgates were opened, players have wasted no time taking advantage of the new rules, or lack thereof. University of Alabama quarterback Bryce Young was said to have secured nearly seven figures in NIL deals even before he won the Heisman trophy in December.

A local athlete and his barber have decided to take part as well.

Jaden Gaither, a three-sport Salisbury High School athlete slated to play football at UNC Pembroke in the fall, struck a deal with Daniel King, a barber who works at Pure Vision Barber Studio in downtown Salisbury.

“I went to go get my haircut one day and we were having a conversation about NIL deals and he asked me if I wanted to do one with him,” Gaither said.

King, who goes by Smilezthabarber, will cut Gaither’s hair for free, provide him with gear featuring his branding and send him college care packages once he’s settled into his dorm room in Pembroke. King has a line of sweatshirts, shirts and hats that bear his logo and barber name. All Gaither has to do is represent King’s Smilezthabarber branding whenever he can.

“It’s to show people where he’s from and that I’m his barber when he comes home,” King said.

King has been cutting Gaither’s hair long before he was a 6-foot-1, 215-pound star linebacker for the Hornets.

“I’ve seen the transformation from him being little in elementary and middle school to being the size he is now,” King said.

Last year, Gaither had 92 tackles with 14 for loss for the Hornets during the team’s campaign to repeat as state champs. He also scored touchdowns on a blocked punt and a fumble return.

After the football season ended, Gaither found even more success on the mat. Grappling with competitors who outweighed him by almost 70 pounds, Gaither pinned several foes en route to winning the 2A State Wrestling Championship. This spring, Gaither has put his talents to use on the track and field team. Along with running the 200-meter dash and 4 x 100 meter relay, he threw discus and competed in shot put.

He won’t be wrestling or running track for UNC Pembroke, but Gaither does plan on making an impact on the gridiron. Gaither chose the Braves over a few other North Carolina schools who showed interest, including Catawba and Winston-Salem State.

“I was looking for a place that felt like home,” Gaither said. “I felt like the coaches (at UNC Pembroke) made it feel like home. The players, I liked their energy. Plus I want to major in business and they have a good business program.”

When Gaither reports for training camp in August, he’ll arrive with his partnership with King in hand. The deal might not be as lucrative as some of the others being cut by college football’s most famous players, but it’s still a chance for Gaither to take advantage of his status as an elite athlete.

“It feels good to have one already before I even have one up (at UNC Pembroke),” Gaither said. “Maybe I’ll attract more.”

For King, the deal is a way to get his name out there as Gaither will be promoting his brand on social media and spreading the word to his friends and fellow athletes.

It’s also a way for King, who ran track at Livingstone, to help local athletes.

“I was looking at it as a chance to give back,” King said.

The Fun Factory will bring ‘a place for families’ to downtown Salisbury

SALISBURY — Tired of having to drive outside of Rowan County to take her two boys, Waylen and Wyatt, to a safe indoor play place, Marianna Riley Jarrett decided to create her own closer to home.

Jarrett, the owner of Spotlight Dance Company, is preparing to open The Fun Factory right next door to her studio at 120 N. Church St. The indoor play cafe will have it all — a three-story “soft play” playground, a ninja course with more than a dozen obstacles, a mini-trampoline park, a toddler section, two birthday party rooms and a small gift shop. A cafe at the front of The Fun Factory will have coffee, tea, sandwiches, salads and baked goods made in-house.

“We’re going to offer a lot of different things and I do think it is something Salisbury has needed,” Jarrett said.

Jarrett is targeting late August as an opening date for The Fun Factory.

The project has been in the works for several years. Jarrett was poised to sign a lease on another location before the pandemic brought everything to a halt.

“I was devastated,” Jarrett said. “I’m not going to lie. I put in a year of planning, a year of work. I was disappointed that it didn’t work out.”

The setback had its own silver lining. While Jarrett was forced to put her original plans on hold, the 8,000-square-foot space right next to her dance studio became available for lease.

“I was disappointed that it didn’t work out, but in the end I’m so happy,” Jarrett said. “It’s bigger than the original space and being right there at the studio I love. It was set up almost perfectly for what I want to do.”

The future home of The Fun Factory is the former home of Bounce City, a children’s amusement park that was different but not completely dissimilar to The Fun Factory concept.

The Fun Factory and Spotlight will be two different businesses, but they will be physically intertwined.

“They’ll be separate businesses, but I want it to be cohesive as well,” Jarrett said. “If people are dancing and they have siblings who can play, they can go in there and play. We’re also opening a cafe in the space. That’ll be great for our competition dancers who are at the studio from 4 to 9 at night.”

The soft play playground has been specially designed to fit the physical parameters of the building and will have slides and other typical playground equipment. The ninja course is reminiscent of what one might see when watching NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior,” but on a smaller and safer scale. The course will have 15 obstacles.

Jarrett said The Fun Factory will have something for kids of all ranges, from toddlers to 14 year olds. The plan is to have a specific section for toddlers and to reserve a “toddler time” during which only kids 3 and under can use the play equipment.

“It’s a place for families with multiple kids where the parents can come, maybe use our free wi-fi and get some work done, let their kids play, grab something to eat and have a place where they can safely play,” Jarrett said.

Jarrett envisions The Fun Factory becoming a birthday party destination. And with a bakery on site, Jarrett said The Fun Factory will offer customizable birthday cakes and other sweet treats. She expects to also host a variety of family-friendly events, such as yoga classes, story time and art classes.

“There’s not anything like it and especially in the cold months and on rainy days, it’ll be a really fun place for parents to bring their kids,” Jarrett said.

The entrance to The Fun Factory will be on North Church Street. A closed off foyer will allow The Fun Factory employees to monitor who enters and exits the facility, which is another feature of the building that Jarrett is excited about.

The renovation process is now underway. Construction crews will take out the carpet, repaint the walls and install the cafe. The playground equipment, Jarrett said, is currently being built and constructed and is scheduled to arrive in July. Crews will need about 35 days to put it together.

Up to date information about the renovation process and opening will be posted on thefunfactorydowntown.com.

Pedal Factory’s new Spring Roll event will feature bikes, bands, scavenger hunt on April 30

SALISBURY — A BMX stunt show, scavenger hunt, live music and more will roll into downtown Salisbury as part of the Spring Roll, the Pedal Factory’s first major fundraiser.

The Spring Roll, set for April 30 in the 300 block of East Council Street, will raise money for the Pedal Factory, a nonprofit community bike center that aims to give everyone access to a bicycle regardless of age or income.

Event planning dynamic duo Shari Graham and Hen Henderlite, along with the Pedal Factory board of directors, came up with the idea for the Spring Roll and have been organizing the event for months.

“Community events like this are why we do what we do,” said Graham, who with Henderlite organizes the ‘Tis the Season Spectacular. “Hen and I get the most enjoyment and satisfaction out of being involved in these types of fundraisers that give back to the community. The Pedal Factory is a perfect example of that.”

Graham said she and Henderlite hope their experience planning large, community-focused events will not only help make the Spring Roll a success but also shine a spotlight on the Pedal Factory and make more people aware of their unique mission.

“If our involvement in some small way brings more light to the good work that these people are doing for our community, that is the best end result,” Graham said.

The event already has more than a dozen sponsors, including leading donor Wallace & Graham Gives.

“We were instantly inspired by the Pedal Factory’s mission to combine a basic need of transportation with fitness and health, sustainability, education, building relationships and community engagement,” said Whitney Wallace Williams, attorney and chairwoman of the Wallace & Graham Gives Committee. “They have created a one-of-a-kind program.”

Williams said Wallace & Graham Gives is grateful for the vision and perseverance of the Pedal Factory’s founders, board members and volunteers.

“We wish this organization the best of success inspiring the oldest and youngest in our community to earn a bike and keep pedaling,” she said.

Through its centerpiece Earn a Bike program, the Pedal Factory has put hundreds of bicycles into the hands — and under the feet — of community members by partnering with any individual who can receive a bike at no cost in exchange for volunteer service. The Pedal Factory also has a team-building program for companies looking for an opportunity for employees to learn new skills and give back to the community.

“I continue to be amazed by the number of people who have embraced the mission of The Pedal Factory,” said Mary Rosser, Pedal Factory director and co-founder. “It’s truly a privilege to be able to continue to share the benefits of riding a bike with our community.”

The Spring Roll kicks off at 5:30 p.m. April 30 with the Alley Cat Ride and scavenger hunt. Tickets also include the Chain Reaction BMX Stunt Show, dinner and drinks, two live bands — Divided By Four and the Billie Feather Jazz Trio — plus a raffle ticket and prizes.

Tickets cost $150 for a family of four, $75 for individuals 21 and older, and $25 for youth ages 5 to 20. The event is free for kids younger than 5 and will include a fun zone. The Spring Roll will take place in front of the Pedal Factory at 311 E. Council St., which will be closed to traffic.

Tickets are available at thepedalfactory.org/springroll. Bike rentals are available for $10 at registration.

Family brings taste of Chile to downtown Salisbury at Tita’s Cake House

SALISBURY — In his home country of Chile, Luis Gomez Valencia commanded military bases as a captain in the country’s Navy.

The retired military officer is now serving sweets with a smile at Tita’s Cake House in downtown Salisbury. The pastry and coffee shop, located at 115 E. Innes St., specializes in traditional Chilean baked goods and treats.

The venture is a family affair. While Luis may have been a captain in Chile’s Navy, his rank in the shop’s kitchen is superseded by his wife, Carla Manriquez, and mother, Lucia Valencia-Carter. Lucia, known to family and friends as “Tita,” has been in America since the mid-2000s. Luis and Carla only moved to the states last year with the dream of opening the pastry shop.

Tita’s held its soft opening earlier this month. The fresh facade has drawn in plenty of customers so far, many of them curious to see what’s become of The Smoke Pit’s old location. Most have decided to enjoy a pastry, or two, and a cup of coffee.

“It has been over our expectations, because people have been very nice, very loving and everybody is happy with this,” Lucia said.

Tita’s might not exist if it wasn’t for a small advertisement in one of Chile’s newspapers that caught Lucia’s eye about two decades ago.

Lucia is the second oldest of nine children. As a child, her older brother had trouble pronouncing her name, Lucia, so he called her “Tita” instead. The nickname stuck and was soon adopted by her entire family and friends.

She grew up attending an American school in Chile where she learned to read and write English. She continued to study the language in college with the goal of becoming an English teacher. Lucia did just that, but she also opened a pastry shop where she made and sold classic Chilean sweets. She ran the business and taught for more than a decade before closing the shop in search of better work-life balance.

Years later, Lucia saw an interesting advertisement in the local paper. It was strategically written in English and posed one question: do you want to teach in the United States?

The advertisement had been placed by Visiting International Faculty, now known as Participate. Since 1987, the program has brought thousands of international teachers to American k-12 classrooms to teach foreign language classes. An empty-nester, Lucia decided to pounce on the opportunity.

In 2006, she moved to Virginia and started teaching language classes. There, she met and married. Lucia and her husband, Donald, eventually moved to Salisbury so he could have better access to healthcare at the Salisbury VA. Lucia got a job with Rowan-Salisbury Schools and spent years teaching English as a Second Language classes at Koontz Elementary.

Meanwhile, her oldest son Luis was rising through the ranks in Chile’s Navy. During his career, Luis, Carla and their children were stationed in various Chilean military bases. For two years, he was Navy governor of Easter Island. He also spent time in Punta Arenas, the chilly capital of Chile’s southernmost region and a popular starting point for excursions to Antarctica.

Five years ago, Luis and his wife Carla brought their children to visit Lucia in Salisbury.

The couple was immediately charmed by the city.

“They found that the downtown of Salisbury has kind of a magic, something special, something different,” Lucia said.

That visit planted a seed.

Thinking about his post-military career, Luis and Carla started planning a pastry shop of their own. In preparation, Carla took culinary classes to learn the proper techniques to make Chilean desserts and pastries. When Luis retired after 32 years in the Armada de Chile, the couple decided to move to Rowan County and open their dream eatery.

The move wasn’t without nerves.

“(Luis) was very brave in coming here because he had a beautiful career (in Chile),” Carla said, her words translated by Lucia. “He would have a lot of different options to pick from there, good ones. But he preferred to come here to be with his family and his mommy too.”

Carla and Luis’ plane touched down on July 4 and soon after they started preparing to open the shop. They decided to name it Tita’s after Lucia.

“When I heard this, I cried,” Lucia said.

The couple looked at several properties downtown, but were drawn to the former Smoke Pit location because it already had a kitchen. That didn’t mean the space was move-in ready for them. Carla led efforts to reinvent the interior, combining inspiration drawn from visiting other cafes with her own passion for using thrifted items as decor.

There’s plenty of interesting items on the walls to look at, but the star of the shop is what’s within the glass bakery display case. So far, Tita’s has sold mostly pies and cheesecakes topped with marmalades, fruit or nuts. The plan is to offer a wider selection of Chilean cakes and desserts once kitchen staff is trained.

“Everything is handmade, the same way we do it at home,” Lucia said.

Carla said they’ll only make the “best of the best” baked goods and pastries, using all natural ingredients.

Lucia and Carla are excited to introduce local taste buds to manjar, a milk based confection similar to caramel and closely resembling Dulce de Leche. The sweet substance is often slathered between layers of cakes. A few manjar-filled multi-layered cakes were placed in the display one afternoon last week, and they didn’t last long.

“In less than three hours, the three cakes disappeared,” Lucia said.

To pair with its pastries, Tita’s sells ice cream made by Mooresville Ice Cream Company and offers an entire coffee menu. The shop uses beans from Jagshead Coffee, a Charlotte-based roaster and family-run company that sources its beans from El Salvador.

Carla said she envisions Tita’s as being a place for families, workers and friends to gather for a delicious taste of Chile.

More information about Tita’s can be found online at titascakehouse.com or on its Facebook page.

Salisbury locals win big at N.C. Main Street Awards

SALISBURY, N.C., (Monday, March 14, 2022) – Three Downtown Salisbury stakeholders, local architecture and development firms, and Downtown Salisbury, Inc. (DSI) received honors at the recent North Carolina Main Street Awards ceremony.

Whitney W. Williams of Wallace & Graham, P.A. was named a “North Carolina Main Street Champion,” while Heart of Salisbury took Best Public-Private Partnership in Downtown Revitalization and Barnhardt Jewelers & Lofts on Innes took Best Adaptive Reuse Project at the annual North Carolina Main Street Conference, held virtually. Nominations were accepted for projects completed between October 2019 through October 2021.

“Downtown Salisbury’s tagline as a ‘Main Street Original’ is a reminder that we were one of the first Main Street communities in North Carolina,” said Downtown Development Director Sada Stewart Troutman. “:However, the continued success of development in our downtown, spearheaded in 2021 by our three award winners, Heart of Salisbury, Barnhardt Jewelers/Lofts on Innes and Whitney Williams, shows that we remain one of the strongest downtowns in the state. It is an exciting time to live, work and play in Downtown Salisbury, and we are so grateful to Wivianny, Josh, Debbie, Whitney and their teams for their continued celebration and vocal support for all things Salisbury. They join a storied group of Main Street Champions and Main Street Award winners from Salisbury who have all made, and continue to make, Salisbury a better place.”

Williams Family

Whitney Wallace Williams has dedicated almost seven years of service to Downtown Salisbury, Inc. (DSI). She served as a member of the DSI board and as its vice-chair and chair. Since rotating off the board, Wallace has stayed active with the organization by serving on the Organizational Committee. With her legal training and experience, she has been essential to so many DSI projects. Wallace also served as the chair of the Empire Hotel Redevelopment Task Force, which was responsible for selecting a developer to purchase and redevelop the historic downtown hotel. The Empire’s successful redevelopment will be transformative for the city and its downtown. 

Heart of Heart of Salisbury is a 5,000-square-foot wellness destination located in the former Flowers Bakery Building at 120 East Innes Street in downtown Salisbury. Best described as a wellness incubator, the facility includes seven affordable office suites for wellness professionals; studios and art galleries used for yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, and belly dance; a demonstration kitchen for cooking classes; and a retail shop with local and fair trade goods. The concept for the project was to create a self-sustaining wellness complex where professionals have affordable rent, local artists have a space to exhibit and sell their artwork, new chefs have a place to connect with the community, and yogis have a community space, surrounded by artwork, to practice and teach. The Heart of Salisbury’s mission is to “help build a healthy community by giving individuals access to affordable yoga classes, professional wellness services, mindfulness education, food education, and art appreciation.” It is a synergistic model that utilizes a rehabilitated industrial setting to bring wellness professionals and clients to downtown Salisbury.

Barnhardt Jewelers/Lofts on Innes at 112 and 114 Innes Street are housed in a building constructed in 1885, is two-story, rectangular brick building with a single-story rear addition. The height, scale, and building materials are typical of many of the commercial buildings and despite modifications to the storefront, the upper facade has retained a significant degree of architectural integrity. The building previously had a saloon in the front and a billiards hall in the back, and was later used for storage. 114 Innes Street was constructed between 1931 and 1950 and replaced the first structure on that property that dated back to around 1890. The earliest use was a barber shop.  Much of the architectural character of the buildings was retained in the rehabilitation, including the wood floors and the pressed tin ceilings. The storefront of 112 East Innes Street was rebuilt.

Local professionals, including The Bogle Firm Architecture, Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit consultant, LMY, Inc., and Central Piedmont Builders worked on both of these building rehabilitation projects that were completed in March (Heart of Salisbury) and December 2020 (Barnhardt Jewelers). Including this year’s group of honorees, 837 Main Street Champions have been recognized by the N.C. Department of Commerce since 2000. A panel of judges selected the project award winners from more than 35 nominations submitted by Main Street and Small Town Main Street communities statewide.

New & Upcoming in Downtown

Winsome Hanger has reopened and is now a men’s boutique!

Window display


They offer men’s formal wear rentals and sales as well as a curated mix of exclusive brands such as Brackish | Feather Bow Ties & Accessories and Brown Dog Hosiery. 

Lora Belle Baby

It’s been a long 6 months, but Lora Belle Baby has reopened! They are now located at 221 S. Main St.


Their new hours are: Monday-Friday- 10-5:30 and Saturday 10-4

Congratulations to the 2020 Biennial Winners

Every two years the City of Salisbury’s Community Appearance Commission and Salisbury Tree Board co-host the Biennial Awards to pay tribute to the many individuals, companies and organizations that make Salisbury a great city to live in. The event is a dinner and presentation at which those that have received Landscape of the Month Awards, Downtown Holiday Decoration Awards, Tree Awards and Development Awards are honored and recognized. 

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