News & Updates
Check back for regular updates on Art Pope’s presence in the news.
Triangle Business Journal, Retailing, March 23, 2021
As Walmart and Amazon continue to push out deliveries to those staying put amid the coronavirus outbreak, one Triangle-based big box store owner is holding firm with its brick-and-mortar strategy: Variety Wholesalers, the Henderson-headquartered company behind retailer Roses.
Owner Art Pope says the company, which has long resisted implementing an e-commerce strategy, is holding firm to its trajectory – even amid the COVID-19 crisis.
“We are responding as well as we can to keep our people healthy and safe, and trying to keep our customers healthy and safe,” he says.
Truckloads of merchandise – yes, including toilet paper – are still coming in to restock store shelves. Stores are open, though workers are ensuring shoppers employ social distancing.
But products are not being shipped directly to customers.
“Again, we are a brick and mortar,” Pope says. “We provide local communities, local neighborhoods with the goods that they need, one-stop family shopping. That’s actually crucial now. You can go to one store for everything you need. … We have never engaged in a large e-commerce strategy. … We can’t compete on e-commerce with a Walmart or an Amazon, and we’re certainly not trying to institute e-commerce overnight.”
He calls the “neighborhood” strategy “very strong,” but citing Variety’s status as a private company, he declined to detail its financials. Nor would he say whether business has crept up amid the additional demand seen by many retailers in recent weeks.
But Pope, formerly North Carolina’s state budget director under Gov. Pat McCrory, is concerned about his cohorts in retail and restaurants nationwide.
“I hope the state and federal government allows them to keep open, serving their customers as long as it can be done so safely, and that legislation being considered doesn’t do more harm than good,” he says.
Pope says that, so far, state officials have done a “good job” listening to businessowners, and that he hopes it continues.
As for Variety, Pope hopes to keep stores open indefinitely.
“Probably the biggest impact are the health and safety concerns,” Pope says, noting that management isn’t coming to the office at the same time, and working remotely “wherever possible.”
Like grocery stores, Roses felt a “rush in buying” as the crisis came on, with people emptying shelves – particularly of hand sanitizer. Pope says it’s been a challenge getting products from distribution centers to stores quickly enough to satisfy customer demand.
“I hope now that the initial wave of buying has taken place, that customers will see stores are resupplying,” he says, particularly paper products. Hand sanitizer is still in short supply, as much of it is being sent to health care facilities across the state.
As of Monday morning, none of his stores had been impacted directly by a positive coronavirus case, Pope says.
IHS President Emily Chamlee-Wright, incoming Chairman Art Pope, and Chairman Emeritus Charles Koch
Institute for Human Studies at George Mason University, Fall 2019
IHS President Emily Chamlee-Wright is pleased to announce that James Arthur Pope is the newly appointed Chairman of the Board of the Institute for Humane Studies, succeeding Charles G. Koch. “We are forever indebted to Charles for his longtime leadership of IHS,” says Emily, “knowing that we would not be where we are today without the benefit of his guiding vision and direction. And it is of immense value to staff and supporters alike that we can continue to lean on Charles’ wisdom and experience in the years ahead as Chairman Emeritus.” Charles Koch’s relationship with IHS began in 1964 when IHS President F.A. “Baldy” Harper recruited him to help develop the Institute, which Baldy founded in 1961. Charles agreed to join forces to create an organization that would support talented scholars and students interested in the principles of a free society.
The Institute for Humane Studies now transitions into the capable hands of another champion of freedom. A member of the Board of Directors since 1987, Art Pope will assume the role of Chairman. His connections to IHS also run deep, all the way back to his law school days at Duke University. A native of North Carolina, Art is an extraordinary businessman and philanthropic leader. He is Chairman and CEO of Variety Wholesalers, a family-held business that now includes 380 retail discount stores in the Southeast and employs over 7,000 people. Art also serves as Chairman of both the John William Pope Foundation and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. As we join with our supporters and friends in looking ahead to an exciting new chapter for IHS, it is worth recalling Charles Koch’s eloquent commentary on the Institute for Humane Studies:
IHS has a special and incredibly important position in the struggle for freedom and opportunity for all—working to ensure that the principles of a free society have a strong voice at America’s colleges and universities. This work is fundamental to everything else that must be done to turn our country around.
Read more from IHS here: https://theihs.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Newsletter-Fall2019_Final.pdf
UNC-Chapel Hill trustees honor three with prestigious Davie Awards
Established by the trustees in 1984, the William Richardson Davie Award recognizes extraordinary service to the University or society.
From UNC-Chapel Hill News: University Communications, Thursday, November 21st, 2019
On Nov. 19, Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Board of Trustees presented the board’s highest honor to three individuals who exemplify dedication, commitment and service to the University.
The three recipients of the 2019 William Richardson Davie Award are Kel Landis III of Raleigh, James Arthur “Art” Pope of Raleigh and Teresa Holland Williams of Huntersville.
Established by the trustees in 1984, the William Richardson Davie Award was named for the Revolutionary War hero who introduced and won passage of a 1789 bill in the General Assembly to charter the University of North Carolina. Named for the man considered the father of UNC-Chapel Hill, the William Richardson Davie Award recognizes extraordinary service to the University or society.
Kel Landis III ’79, ’82 (MBA) earned a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from Carolina. He served as a University trustee from 2012 to 2013, as chair of the UNC Board of Visitors and as a member of the UNC Foundation’s Board of Directors. He was an adjunct professor of finance at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, chaired the school’s board of advisors and served as a trustee for the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute for Private Enterprise. A former CEO of RBC Centura Bank, Landis served as senior advisor for business and economic affairs for North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley. Landis’ philanthropic support of the University spans across campus, including Kenan-Flagler Business School, student financial aid and research initiatives in the UNC School of Medicine. His contributions to public higher education in the state extend beyond Carolina: he is a trustee of Elizabeth City State University. He is a board member for the North Carolina Community Foundation, which provides support for community foundations across the state. Landis currently serves as a member of the Board of Advisors for the Medical Foundation of North Carolina. Landis is a co-founder and active in Plexus Capital, the largest privately-held small business investment company fund complex in the U.S. Plexus makes investments across the country, having invested over $1 billion in small to medium-sized businesses for growth capital.
James Arthur “Art” Pope ’78 earned a bachelor’s degree with honors from UNC-Chapel Hill and also holds a law degree from Duke University. He served as special counsel to North Carolina Gov. Jim Martin and as the state budget director. Pope was elected to four terms as a North Carolina state representative. He is chairman of the John William Pope Foundation, which he co-founded with his late father, John. To date, the foundation has given more than $170 million to support public policy, education, arts and humanitarian nonprofit efforts. In 2018, the foundation committed $10 million to UNC-Chapel Hill for the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center; the Philosophy, Politics and Economics Program in the College of Arts & Sciences; men’s and women’s track-and-field scholarships; and a research study at UNC Horizons designed to help more women and children break the cycle of addiction and poverty. He currently chairs the board of directors for both the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. He is chairman and owner of Variety Wholesales, Inc., and its Roses Stores. The company employs more than 7,000 people and serves millions of customers in over 360 communities.
Teresa Holland Williams ’77 earned her bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology from Carolina and chaired the GAA’s Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees for Western Carolina University. Williams also served on the Board of Education for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. Previously, she served on the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee for the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History. She was awarded the UNC General Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award in 2018. Her other honors include the Western Carolina University Distinguished Service Award, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Volunteer of the Year Award and the Chapel Hill Service League Lifetime Membership Award. She is a founding member of the GAA’s Light on the Hill Society, which funds scholarships to support academically gifted African American students attending Carolina. Williams currently serves as a Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Board of Visitors member. She promotes public higher education across the state as a member of the Board of Directors for Higher Education Works, a bipartisan organization that advocates for investment in North Carolina’s public universities and community colleges by building support among citizens and engaging leaders.
The John William Pope Foundation granted $10,000 to the Pathways Women and Children shelter to provide lodging with shared kitchen and laundry facilities for up to 10 family units of women with children.
The Mountaineer, By Becky Johnson, June 23, 2019:
COMMUNITY STEPS UP — A ribbon-cutting for a transitional shelter for homeless women with children located on the Pathways Center Campus was held in June. An outpouring of community support and fundraising made the project a reality. As with those in the men’s and women’s dormitories, mothers with children are offered a safe environment for a limited period as long as they are working with the staff social worker toward a permanent solution to their homelessness.
A transitional shelter for homeless women with children trying to build a new life became a reality last Friday, with the celebrated opening of The Haywood Pathways Center Myr-Ken Building.
The $650,000 addition to the Haywood Pathways Center will provide lodging with shared kitchen and laundry facilities for up to 10 family units of women with children.
Nearly 100 people gathered for a ribbon cutting of the Myr-Ken Building Friday.
“Pathways started as and continues to be a community project,” said Pathways Director Mandy Haithcox. “From financial support to volunteer presence to persistent prayer to community education and advocacy, Pathways would not be what it is today without all of you.”
Nick Honerkamp, pastor of New Covenant Church, recounted the evolution of the Pathways Center from idea to reality. The need for not merely a homeless shelter but creating a transitional program to help people start a new life crystalized one day four years ago as Haywood County Sheriff Greg Christopher saw two inmates being released from jail with nowhere to go.
“They walked out and sat on the curb with nowhere to go and the sheriff said ‘We’ve got to do something about the recidivism rate. We can’t keep arresting the same people over and over,’” Honerkamp said.
The community rallied to the cause, raising funds and donating labor to convert a shuttered state prison in Hazelwood into the Pathways Center four years ago.
“We had 1,500 volunteers that flipped this prison into what it is today. If you ask anyone in Haywood County who is responsible for flipping this prison, they’ll say ‘we are.’ Truly it was the citizens of Haywood County that came together,” Honerkamp said.
However, it soon became evident that The Pathways Center lacked a critical element: a separate unit capable of housing women with children.
“Together we have created not just a building but a safe and welcoming home that serves to facilitate life transformation as moms and children find respite, as they work to break the cycles that got them here and build new foundations,” Haithcox said.
While the community at large pulled together around the project, Haithcox recognized a few key champions at the celebration. One was the Friends of Laurel Ridge, which provided $300,000 to jumpstart the fundraising campaign.
“This group of folks in particular has had this project in their hearts and on their minds for a very long time,” Haithcox said.
The John Williams Pope Foundation gave $100,000 to the project.
“That allowed us to start this project while continuing to fundraise,” Haithcox said.
The Mountaineer was also recognized for its community campaign that pushed the fundraising campaign over the finish line last fall.
“The Mountaineer hosted a readers challenge to help Pathways raise the remaining funds needed so we could build this building debt free. This effort raised over $150,000 in a months time,” Haithcox said.
Also recognized for their contribution were Ken and Myrna Snyder, who gave $100,000 donation that led to the building being named in their honor.
“They have long had a heart for struggling and they wanted to share the resources they have with those who need a hand up,” Haithcox said.
The Myr-Ken Building is a combination of their first names.
Lastly, Haithcox recognized Pathways board member Jim Blythe.
“This project would not have been possible if not for the countless hours and true dedication of Jim Blythe, our project manager and all around mastermind of this project,” Haithbox said.
The Pathways Center has seen an increase in the number of clients seeking services, often resulting in a waiting list — all 60 slots were full Friday at the ribbon cutting.
The Pathways Center is more than a homeless shelter. It emphasizes job training, spiritual counseling, rehabilitation and life-skills coaching as clients prepare to reenter society.
“About 60 percent of our folks leave here and move into housing or move back in with family,” Haithcox said. “We feel like we are making a lot of progress.”
Haithcox added that 70 percent of those staying at Pathways currently are employed, many of them full-time as they save up money to move into housing of their own.
“Lives have been changed. People have been rescued from poverty and addiction and despair. They have turned their lives around,” said Celicia Willett with Haywood County United Way.
An open house of the Myr-Ken Building allowed community members to see the rooms, beautifully decorated with rugs, wall pictures, lamps, stuffed animals, books and other comforts of home.
All the furnishings and interior decor were provided by volunteers. Realtors with Beverly Hanks led the effort to furnish and decorate the rooms, working together in pairs or small groups to take on different rooms.
“It was our goal to honor the women and children who find themselves in this situation. We wanted to be part of creating a comfortable and welcoming space for them as they begin the journey toward a new life,” said Pamela Williams, a Realtor with Beverly Hanks.
The Haywood County faith community has been instrumental in the success of The Pathways Center. A blessing for the Myr-Ken Building was offered by Paul Kaptak, a volunteer chaplain with Pathways.
“Bless the roof and the walls that will create a safe space for new beginnings. Bless the table where meals will be shared nourishing bodies and spirit. Bless the families who will find rest and encouragement to follow your path of light,” he said. “May all who enter these premises sense your presence power and love.”
Art Pope, a former legislator and a supporter of independent redistricting committees, backs legislation titled the “FAIR Act,” which would put map-drawing standards directly into North Carolina’s constitution to lessen concerns about independent redistricting committees.
The News & Observer: Opinion, Monday, February 25, 2019
NC leaders once backed gerrymandering reform
RALEIGH Ten years ago this month, a group of state legislators filed a proposal to take politics out of drawing legislative and congressional districts.
Their bill sought an independent redistricting commission — four Democrats, four Republicans and three people unaffiliated with the two major parties — to draw the lines. The goal was to end gerrymandering: No longer could parties use software to game the system and ensure a legislative majority. They’d be banned from carving communities in half along racial or partisan lines, or drawing a safe district to ensure their re-election.
The bipartisan group sponsoring the bill included Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett. They were back-benchers in the minority party in 2009, but now they hold the most powerful posts in the legislature.
The independent redistricting bill was filed in February 2009 and, like countless other attempts, went nowhere. Democratic leaders felt certain they’d win another majority in 2010 and have the power to gerrymander the districts yet again. So they threw the bill in the trash.
Fast-forward a decade. Democrats have been out of power since a Republican wave in 2010, thanks in part to GOP efforts to draw districts that favor their party. The Democratic Party now makes independent redistricting a top priority. But now it’s Berger, Moore, Brown and Lewis who keep throwing redistricting bills in the garbage.
Still, the ever-hopeful proponents of redistricting reform think this year might be different. The GOP’s majority has grown narrower as North Carolina’s urban areas become more liberal, and there’s a chance a big “blue wave” against President Donald Trump in 2020 could put Democrats in charge of drawing the next maps.
A redistricting commission proposal — similar to the 2009 measure — already has more than half of all House legislators as co-sponsors, including about a dozen Republicans. It would likely pass if brought to a vote, but there’s no indication that Moore and Lewis will allow that to happen.
Skeptics of the independent commission idea question whether the group would really keep politics out of their deliberations. That’s not a legitimate concern, because the bill would require at least two members of each group on the commission — Democrats, Republicans and people who are neither — to support the final plan.
But there’s an alternative for the haters, and it even has the seal of approval from Republican mega-donor Art Pope! This one, unveiled last week as the “FAIR Act,” would eliminate the concerns about a redistricting commission by putting the map-drawing standards directly into the state’s constitution.
The constitutional amendment would ban all consideration of partisan and election results statistics — “any data that could reasonably determine the voting tendencies of a group of citizens,” explained the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson. The districts would have to be “reasonably compact” and keep counties whole when possible — no more weird snake-like monster districts allowed.
The legislature’s nonpartisan staff would do the heavy lifting of preparing maps, with legislators still responsible for approving the final project. And by putting the rules in the constitution, voters would be approving the plan, and future legislatures couldn’t easily circumvent the requirements.
“The most important thing we can do at this point in time is to get people to have confidence in our government again,” said Rep. Robert Reives, D-Chatham and the lead Democrat behind the bill.
Both the amendment and the commission proposals are solid starting points for a debate on gerrymandering. But the debate can’t happen unless Republican leaders let the bills have hearings and votes — something they’ve refused to allow in recent sessions.
My guess is the bills won’t move unless we get to the summer of 2020 and see polls forecasting a big win for Democrats. But Berger, Moore, Lewis and Brown would be wise to have a heart-to-heart chat with their younger selves, who backed the 2009 bill.
If this was a good idea then, why not now? Don’t repeat the mistakes of the General Assembly’s last Democratic leaders — don’t wait until you’re out of power to change your mind.
Colin Campbell is editor of the Insider State Government News Service. Follow him at NCInsider.com or @RaleighReporter. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org