EVERYBODY'S BUSINESS: The Pantry has second poor quarter

May. 11, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

Things are looking up for authors, but not so much for Roo Cups, which are returning to shelves this month.

The Pantry, which operates Kangaroo convenience stores and was founded in Sanford (even though it’s now based in Cary), recently announced a $10.3-million net loss last quarter. In-store merchandise sales actually rose, suggesting people still were out buying food, drinks and other products despite the awful weather of the past several months. But the company still registered a second straight quarter of losses, due in part to struggling fuel sales.

Perhaps people aren’t buying as much gas because they’re inside reading. Publishing giant Harper Collins announced an 83-percent rise in profits last quarter, along with a 14-percent rise in revenue, which it attributed to increased sales of ebooks as well as the successful young-adult series “Divergent.”

As ebooks become more popular — 30 percent of Amazon’s $5.25 billion in annual book sales now comes from ebooks, for example — at least one local author has also embraced the switch.

Theresa Cocolin, who lives in the Barbecue Church area of western Harnett County, published a new collection of short stories last month for e-readers called “If My Life Were a Book.” She said it’s also on audio book and has been picked up by the N.C. Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. It’s Cocolin’s second major release since her 2008 novel, “The Last Rose of Summer.”

A Chatham County author has also done well for herself lately, winning two prizes from the North Carolina Writers Network. Pittsboro’s Laura Herbst won the 2014 Doris Betts Fiction Prize for her short story “The Cliffs of Mobenga,” which will be published in the 2015 North Carolina Literary Review. Herbst, a former journalism professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, also won the Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition for an essay on breast cancer.

In other news...

• Paying an arm and a leg for a smart phone or tablet but feel like you’re not getting that device’s full potential? Check out a free workshop at 9 a.m. Saturday, at the U.S. Cellular Store located at 3274 N.C. 87 South in Sanford. You don’t have to be a U.S. Cellular customer to go.

• Local business owners should be aware of an app called Yillio. It has partnered with the Pinehurst-Southern Pines-Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau to be the go-to source for visitors coming to Pinehurst next month for the U.S. Open golf tournaments who are looking for parking, food, nightlife and more. The app is free to download and free for businesses to get listed on and “create a real-time advertising message for commuters and drivers before they pass them by,” say the makers of the app, which debuted this February to help visitors to the Super Bowl.

• Business fluctuations: In the last week, eight corporations formed in Lee County — Butler Tactical, C & G Automotive & Truck Repair, Hometown Flooring, Maldi Corporations, Mini Mobile Home Park, Nathan and Tania Reining Horses, Naylco Trucking and RTC Industries — and three were dissolved or withdrawn, including D&S Restaurant and Catering, Robert’s Cabinets and countertops and Roy E. Mashburn Sr., LLC.

Have business news? Contact Will Doran at wdoran@sanfordherald.com or (919) 718-1217.