2006.03.26

Leaving Mayberry

11.30.57 - Mark

Mount Airy is a good town. Boring as hell and ignorant at times, but over all its a good place for families. It rests in the Piedmont near the Blue ridge Mountains and the area surrounding Mount Airy is stunning, which I was reminded of while spending some time at Raven Knob yesterday.

It's also somewhat well known as the hometown of Andy Griffith and a recognized inspiration for Mayberry.

Ever since I moved here a few years ago being Mayberry has been a big deal for the town, since tourism has taken over as the main industry since the textiles moved out of the country. I can understand that, however a year or two ago the city brought in some economic consultants and after talking to various people in the community they came to the conclusion that while Mayberry was a good tourism launch pad , the city needed to divirisy its tourism appeal into "lifestyle tourism" focusing on simple living, outdoor activities, arts, crafts, music, etc. But for whatever reason this study hasn't been widely circulated in town.

Insted of pushing those other avenues, we have everyone and their dog trying to capatilize on Mayberry. Mayberry Square, Mayberry Motor Inn, Mayberry Courthouse, Opie's Candy Store, Snappy Lunch, Floyd's Barber Shop, Mayberry Auto, Aunt Bea's (resteraunt), Mayberry Weadding Chapel, Squad Car Tours, Wally's Service Station, the list goes on. Even the main website for the chamber of commerce is VisitMayberry.com. There's even a business called Mayberry Internet Auctions on the outskirts of town.

Rather than trying to move past Mayberry as the actors who stared in the show die off (the latest being Don Knotts about a month ago) we're seeing more and more business come in trying to cater to the Mayberry Sect, some successfully like Snappy Lunch and Floyd's, others not so much (Mayberry Pet Store), and when we disappoint fans, its major news, like a pair of fans from Georgia came to visit Snappy Lunch, only to discover its closed for renovations to bring it up to code. They might not get their desired meal, but they'll get into the local newspapers (I don't want to know how the paper discoverd that story).

It's all a bit disappointing, and I really want to see more people in the community try to move past Mayberry, because in 5 or 10 years, I don't think its going to be as successful as it is now.

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