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A look at hot spots for sales of N.C. lottery tickets

Apr 11, 2006, 9:24 am

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North Carolina Lottery

A busy road helps; so do fishing worms

North Carolina's leading sellers of lottery tickets sit along busy interstates, or on major thoroughfares, or they have extra ways of drawing their players in.

The very top stores have all three.

Dunn's Gas and Grocery in Four Oaks in Johnston County, the top seller in the Triangle so far, is along U.S. 301, about a mile from Interstate 95. And it gets plenty of locals by offering more than gas and candy bars.

"We have fishing worms and ice cream sundaes and hardware and plumbing supplies and a pizza parlor," said Teresa Heath, a clerk and manager at the store.

"I'd like to say we're the Wal-Mart of Four Oaks."

Winning players at the store get a hat and their photo is tacked to the wall.

Wake County retailers led the state in the first week of lottery sales, hawking $3 million in tickets, according to data released Friday. But that's not unexpected: Wake also is first in the state in the number of lottery outlets, with more than 400.

Guilford and Mecklenburg counties were next in sales, and they also are next in the number of retailers.

Those three top counties have a big corner on the lottery market. Roughly one in every five tickets sold in the first week of the games was in one of the three.

Statewide lottery sales were $36.5 million through the first week, officials said Friday. Roughly $17.6 million in prizes were paid. The top outlets are bringing in more than $3,000 a day, according to store owners and lottery data.

The No. 2 seller in the state, Casey's Citgo, is in Guilford and also fits the profile of a big seller. The store is off an I-85 interchange on the way to downtown Greensboro. But owners also cleared out space for players to sit and scratch, and they offer a deli and hot foods. Pork chops and fish were on the menu Friday.

Regular customers are major ticket buyers, said Daniel Coffin, a manager.

"We figured it'd be like this," Coffin said. "We've sold thousands and thousands."

It's not clear what the secret is at the state's top seller. A clerk who took two phone calls at the Xpress Mart in High Point, not far from U.S. 311 and I-85, couldn't shed any light because the lottery lines were too long.

"We're so busy nobody can talk to you," she said.

"I gotta go, bye!"

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