Store manager

Norwood ABC store manager retires – The Stanly News & Press

The walls that line the interior of the Norwood ABC store contain sports memorabilia that have been there for so long the sun has faded them.

Although he hasn’t been around as long as the decorations, Lanny Whitley has spent 32 years doing just about everything the store needs.

Managing the store since 2006, Whitley, who retired at the end of October, said he stayed at the store out of obligation, adding he hadn’t had much help in the store. Often when people worked in the store, he added, they had other full-time jobs elsewhere.

Luckily, however, he hasn’t been sick much, he indicated, saying, “if I’m sick today, I can’t call anyone.”

Several days, he noted, he will be at the Main Street store from “sunrise to sunset.”

Whitley did everything in the store, from waiting for customers to washing windows and keeping restrooms clean.

In its early days, Norwood owned the only ABC store in the county. So on Friday, when the factories’ first shift ended at 3 p.m., business picked up.

“People would be lined up at the back of the store on both sides. It was just constant,” Whitley said.

With other municipalities like Albemarle approving alcohol and opening their own ABC stores, business plummeted, he said. However, Whitley said business picked up at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He noted that many stores limited their opening hours, but Norwood continued to stay open later and did business during those hours.

Many customers, Whitley said, are known to him by sight and have been frequenting the store since he started working years ago.

The secret to making the store a success, he added, was to treat customers like they were someone.

“Don’t just treat them like a number to get them in, get their dollar, and out,” Whitley said.

He noted that many Albemarle customers still came to Norwood because he spoke to them.

Having a variety of spirits in stock is also important, Whitley said. When he took over as manager, the store’s only flavored vodka was Absolut Citron. Now the store offers various flavored vodkas.

Although he doesn’t have as much room on the sales floor, Whitley said he tries to have what people want on hand. However, he added, he waits until 10 or 12 people ask for a certain brand or type before sourcing it.

As for retirement plans, Whitley said he has none.