BLANCHARD — Alan and JoAnne Camp were traveling through the mountains of North Carolina when they came across an antiquated settlement, barely still in existence.
The settlement was called Loafers Glory, the name reportedly coined by the women of the community who took a rather dim view of the men’s habit of lollygagging on the porch of the community store, rather than working.
The settlement’s old-time name stayed with the Camps, traveling more than 700 miles north to their hometown of Blanchard. The Camps were busy owning and operating DeWitt Lumber in Blanchard, but JoAnne had another idea brewing.
For some time, she had her eye on a big old former hardware store in the heart of Blanchard. The building had sat vacant in town for a number of years at 431 Main St.
“I was just intrigued by the size of it and the possibilities it had to offer,” JoAnne recalled.
Alan had some misgivings, but in the end, JoAnne convinced him to support her dream. The Camps purchased the building in the winter of 1985 and opened their new business in the spring of 1986.
Alan even came up with the name for his wife’s new venture — Loafers Glory.
“I went from 2-by-4’s to candles,” laughed JoAnne of her switch from a lumber company to a country home store.
Alan Camp continued to manage business at DeWitt Lumber, but he helped JoAnne with extensive remodeling to the three-story building, which was originally built in the late 1800s, not long after a fire destroyed most of Blanchard’s business district in 1884.
The first year of business at Loafers Glory went better than expected. The store thrived into the 1990s and became a popular destination for those attracted to the charming and thoughtfully decorated rooms spilling over with home furnishings, plus the cozy and welcoming lunch service restaurant. Buttermilk pie was one of the most in-demand items, based on a recipe JoAnne had once heard on the radio.
“We were the only place for lunch in the area,” JoAnne said. “We are a destination and when people travel they need to have some lunch.”
JoAnne’s two daughters and son all worked with her at the business over the years, along with about two dozen employees. Loafers Glory continued to prosper, especially in the late 1990s. The business experienced somewhat of a downturn in the years after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, but the store continued to sustain thanks to JoAnne’s heartfelt efforts and multiple loyal customers.
But now, after more than 27 years in business, JoAnne has decided it’s time to move on. She wants to join her husband in retirement and spend more time with their four grandchildren.
Loafers Glory is slated to close its doors for good by Nov. 23. It was a tough decision, but the right one for JoAnne.
“If I was 10 years younger, I wouldn’t be retiring because I love what I do,” she said. “I love the people. I’m going to miss the people. This has been my social life for 27 years.”
Word has spread and longtime customers have been visiting the beloved business one last time, including Lorraine Kirchner of Shepherd, who worked at Loafers Glory over the years.
“It was like a family, so comfortable,” Kirchner said. “You couldn’t wait to get to work. It was so fun. Everybody I’ve talked to is hoping it can continue. It will be sadly missed.”
Carl and Pam Petno and Becky Fox, all of Syracuse, Ind., were among the bustling crowds Tuesday afternoon at Loafers Glory. They were enjoying lunch and a visit with their relative, LouAnn Williams of Cedar Lake.
“We heard it was closing so we wanted to come one last time,” Fox said.
Loafers Glory is currently for sale. Interested people can call Coldwell Banker in Mount Pleasant at (989) 773-5972 for more information.
“If the right person comes along it would be ideal,” said JoAnne wistfully.
Loafers Glory is currently open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and can be reached via telephone at (989) 561-2020.