Laurel is a television star. It’s something locals still grapple with as crowds of visitors roam the streets of downtown, taking photos, trying to see people and places that were featured on the hit show of HGTV “Home Town”.
In one of the popular Facebook groups for fans of the show, there was a debate about how Laurel should handle her still-new fame. One of the most common complaints is that “everything” is closed on Sundays. This is countered by the argument that the city should retain its quaint charm and continue with traditions like this instead of changing for tourists.
We agree with both parties to some extent. We don’t want Laurel to be full of tourist traps. Neon signs, Elvis-mimic wedding chapels, and trendy restaurant chains devouring the landscape would make us a tourist town. But adjusting the hours to accommodate the influx of fans would make us a city that takes care of tourists.
On Labor Day, a constant stream of fans entered our “Home Town” gift shop, and all expressed disappointment that so many stores they had seen on the show were closed. Labor Day is traditionally a big retail day, so we were surprised to hear that. Selfishly, it was good for our business… but we want the city to shine and people who have fallen in love with Laurel to be able to experience all it has to offer.
For some die-hard fans Laurel is a destination and they’ll be here overnight, so they can see and do whatever they want. But there are a bunch of casual fans for whom Laurel is a detour from their route to New Orleans or Gulf Shores or Florida. They drive an hour or two out of their way to see this small town star during a time when most businesses should be open… and, understandably, they have a less than favorable experience when they can’t do the things they want. have traveled here for. We don’t want this to be their lasting impression.
As the holiday season approaches, we hope downtown business owners keep this in mind.