Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tourist Towns

So yesterday, I headed north to McCaysville, Ga. to stop at two places about advertising in their local newspaper. The one, IGA, is a grocery store, and you'd think they'd want to advertise in their local paper, so that the local residents would know their sales. I talked to the owner once and have yet to get her live, no matter how many times I drive the 15 miles to McCaysville.

Just like Blue Ridge, McCaysville is in Fannin County and also on the Toccoa River (which is also the Ocoee River around the corner) where lots of white water rafting takes place. Lots of white water rafting companies up and down the highway. McCaysville's "main street" is full of cute little boutiques, BBQ joints, and souvenir shops. Alas, none of which is for the locals.

I started out yesterday early because I wanted to make the trip north then come back and hit some stores in Blue Ridge. 8:30am I pulled out of the 90 degree driveway onto Highway 5--which was totally empty--at 8:30am. This is nice coming from Chicago where traffic is bumper to bumper at that time, and crowds of people huddle at corner bus stops and on train platforms. Yes, it is nice and yes, it's what I was looking for coming south, but really, it is quite disconcerting. Especially, if you're attempting to do business--or eat breakfast.

Breakfast was my plan because I knew I was in a slow-start area. What the tourist towns fail to realize is that there are people who live in these areas, people who require services just as the tourists, and it would be nice if we (the locals, of whom I am now one) could get some service before 11 or 12 when the tourists roll out of their mountain cabin rentals. I stopped to ask the souvenir guy and he rattled off a couple names, and then quickly corrected himself that they were closed.

"There's the American Diner down the road, but you want a sit down?"

Well, yeah that's what I had in mind. Fifteen minutes and 20 miles later, I got to sit down at Hardees in Ducktown, Tn. By the time I’d eaten, drove back to stop at those places, talk to folks who aren’t the least bit interested in advertising for the locals, I got back to Blue Ridge just in time for lunch—so of course no one wanted to talk business. I don’t know if I’m still internally on Chicago time or if the days here are just shorter. The work days!

Today, I chose to walk around downtown Blue Ridge (90+ degrees with 90+ humidity percentage and no breeze) to stop in at all their cute little boutiques for the tourists. They also were not the least bit interested in advertising for the locals. Do the locals not want to know what your lunch and dinner specials are? Do they not want to know the hours of the used book store, or the music store? Here’s one I don’t understand at all: the feed store, certainly the locals want to know all about this store. Maybe they do, but no one has told the owners yet that it would be beneficial to advertise in the local newspaper.

In the city, not doing print advertising is understandable—everyone uses the internet. This just isn’t so in this small town of 1200 people. Very few have computers let alone internet, and everyone loves their newspaper. How to convince the store owners? They’re locals. Tomorrow I will make follow up calls—a few. Afterward, we’re doing exciting stuff, meeting with old timers to get their stories and some recipes. Recipes are my idea. They will go together nicely with the garden poetry I hope to get from the elementary students at their community garden project. Put it all together in a homey cookbook that can be sold at the farmers market to benefit Feed Fannin. My idea. Pretty good, huh?

Tonight, the temps have dropped, the wind is rustling the leaves, and I’m blogging to document my journey so that I can compile all with some kitschy pictures in a personal essay anthology. Yay me! I'm also hoping I can keep the bedroom windows open without a bunch of little creepy, crawling and flying little critters making their way through the screens. I already hear them tap, tap, tapping.

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