Donald and Lynn Thomas do not travel nearly as much as they used to; especially during Covid-19 challenges. Throughout their 35-year marriage they have traveled through dozens of U.S. states and enjoyed living in no less than seven of them. Combined, they have traveled to over six countries.
Recently, the couple extended a family wedding road trip. The return home included stops in Laurel, Mississippi and Wetumpka, Alabama; real life locations for the popular HGTV show Home Town. HGTV has been a preferred entertainment destination for the Thomas’ for nearly two decades. And within the last few years Home Town, hosted by Ben and Erin Napier, has become one of the Thomas’ favorite series. The Napier’s irresistible appeal is that they are wholesomely ambitious people who balance a spirited home life with the television fame of renewing historic homes.
Don and Lynn set aside an entire day to stay in Laurel. Their clandestine dream was to actually meet the Napiers, but their realistic ambitions were to see and enjoy iconic landmarks from the television series. Amongst the targets were Ben’s Workshop and General Store, Pearl’s Diner, Lott Furniture and Laurel Mercantile as well as other visuals such as Ben’s Chevy truck and large building murals; many designed by Erin herself.
It was clear that people of Laurel are proud of their history and increased popularity. Everyone smiles, nods and says “hello” and “thank you for stopping by”. What did seem missing was the town’s self-awareness of celebrity. On any common work day, Ben’s General store is full of shoppers. It occurred to Don that all the shoppers had to be Home Town afficionados and not the locals. But, in spite of the town’s celebrity, there were a lack of items that would appeal to that audience. Items such as toy size versions of Ben’s truck, picture post cards, behind-the scenes DVDs, autographed collectibles, area maps etc. were virtually non-existent in Laurel (or Wetumpka for that matter).
In this day and age, tourists easily send images to family and friends using their cell phoned. However, Don feels the area known for revitalizing the appeal of a historic lifestyle should also nourish pastime vacation traditions… such as picture postcards. To subtly make that point, Don created his own picture postcard and has sent hundreds of them to Laurel MVPs.
“Too often people make the effort to complain,” stated Mr. Thomas. “But how often do people make an effort to thank the hosts for a positive experience? A simple postcard can be that little something to warm someone’s heart just to say “We thought of you today’.”
Don and Lynn never did meet Ben and Erin, nor did they truly expect to have done so.
“I wish the General Store had life size stand-ups of Ben and Erin. We would have loved to take a souvenir photo of ourselves as if we did meet them.” added Mr. Thomas.
Categories: Local Scenes Stuff