The name is a part of the fabric of our Village. We patronize for all the usual reasons, but one of the two locations has a special meaning for some of our residents. First, some history:
Tom Carlton owns the business. He’s a North Carolinian who lived his early years in Lenoir about 75 miles from Clemmons. He studied finance and economics at Appalachian State University. Not yet ready to engage his entrepreneurial spirit, he taught in the local community college for 12 years. Finally, the right opportunity arose in the form of a convenience/food store in Lenoir. It was to be the first of many….about eight in all, including one in the food court at Hanes Mall. Two stores still exist and carry on the Carlton name. Carlton’s (west) is on Hampton Road adjacent to the new Idols Road bridge..look for the gas pumps! Taking advantage of the reduction in traffic due to the recent bridge closure, the interior has been renovated and the kitchen modernized. The breakfasts and lunches are famous, but most renowned are Miss Gay’s ‘homemade’ (in the store) chicken pies (baked with love) which bring in customers from miles around. Part of the store’s interesting history involves its location just up the road from ‘wet’ Forsyth County to the previously ‘dry’ Davie County line. Enough said. In 1994 Tom bought Carlton’s (south), a convenience store occupying a small white building on the corner of Harper and Clemmons (NC158) roads across from Tanglewood Shopping center. It too has an interesting history having been a gas station (Park Shell) and bar (Tavern on the Gravel) and is also conveniently located close to the once ‘dry’ Davie line.
2007 brought a major new revenue source to the business: the state Education Lottery was established. Tom was quick to see the potential for, not only, ticket sales, but also the added customer traffic which would be generated. The store had everything going for it…great location and convenience. Ticket sales are now the largest percentage of its business. Enter at the front door, turn and face the long counter which is staffed by two friendly, knowledgeable sales clerks. They are set up at either end of a series of glass faced cabinets containing no fewer than 96 choices of lottery tickets ranging in price from $1 to $30.
The state has now introduced Keno which is a simple lottery game offering chances to win prizes every 5 minutes. Sure enough, in a quiet corner, there is a table and a Keno screen. Several players can sit, play and socialize. An ATM is handy…just in case! The atmosphere in both Carlton locations is ‘family’ friendly. Many customers are greeted by name.
Everyone is happy for winners. Good patron relations are one of the secrets of Carlton’s success. Tom is now backed up by his son Zach who brings his I.T. experience to the company…a welcome addition.
As you drive past the small white building that is Carlton’s Tanglewood location, just reflect for a moment: more lottery tickets have been sold here over the last three years than by any other single location (about 6800 of them) in our state. The biggest payout so far for a Carlton patron…$4,000,000!
Another FIRST for our Village of Clemmons.
Photos by James Stewart Images