Wetumpka still feeling positive effects of HGTV’s ‘Hometown Takeover’ show
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) -Downtown Wetumpka is not what it was five years ago, maybe not even two years ago!
“It has just been this beautiful movement of community and growth and positivity,” Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shellie Whitfield explained Ben and Erin Napier’s “Hometown Takeover” show on HGTV put Wetumpka on the map.
“Prior to being announced for HGTV in a good month, we’d see maybe 9000 people,” Whitfield said.
Now, Whitfield says there’s no question Wetumpka is a tourist destination.
“When the show aired that may, we had 23,000 People in downtown Wetumpka,” Whitfield said
The show recorded 6 episodes featuring 12 major renovations.
“Everybody wants to see Company Street, everybody wants to see the Big Fish House. And on any given morning, there’s people standing outside taking pictures at 6:30 in the morning,” Whitfield added.
She sees the impact that the show left behind stretching far beyond its visitors.
“We really don’t have very many spots left in our downtown,” she said
Five years ago, 40% of the buildings downtown were closed and boarded up. Today, there’s only one available for sale and one available for rent. So now the challenge is to keep this momentum going.
“People are coming back. We’ve seen people come two, three times, we’re building Airbnb,” Whitfield explained.
And Wetumpka businesses are finding new ways to boom anywhere in the world.
“Our stores now have more online presence,” said Whitfield. “And a number of our businesses are able now to open second locations. They’re able to grow their businesses. They need bigger buildings.”
An opportunity for Wetumpka to prove it’s even better than what people saw on the show.
“It isn’t just about the TV show. People really do love Wetumpka. There’s something very special about this place.”
Whitfield says the number of visitors to Wetumpka has leveled off a bit. The town is now seeing about 10,000 to 15,000 out-of-town tourists a month.
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