GO Month: Celebrate Restaurants & Retail Week
As we begin this week of GO Month that will highlight many of the local dining and shopping opportunities in Gaston County, I would like to share some compelling information that may surprise you. According to research conducted by Visit North Carolina, visitors to Gaston County generated a $251.7 million spending impact in 2016. That’s a remarkable figure which ranks us 17th among North Carolina’s 100 counties.
Even though my department is 100 percent funded by a portion of our countywide hotel occupancy tax collections, we also can appreciate the fact that lodging spending typically comprises just 26 percent of an overnight guest’s total destination spending. The other 74 percent goes toward: Gas/other transportation, food/beverage/dining, shopping/gifts/souvenirs, entertainment/admissions, groceries and other amenities (golf, spa, etc.)
Through these numbers, we see that the vitality of our county’s restaurant and retail businesses are of great importance to our overall tourism economy. As a destination marketer, I know that these suppliers provide much-desired services guests actively seek out. Not only that, local firms also offer a depth and richness to the experiences that we promote, both helping to create a unique sense of place and assisting in telling our broader brand story. Although we might lure travelers with messaging around the motives of outdoor recreation, adventure, relaxation, or connecting with nature, many of their needs are expertly met through the hospitality and service delivery exemplified by our restaurants and retailers. It is due to these personal interactions that opportunities for positive word-of-mouth recommendations are enhanced and repeat visitation is encouraged. Our restaurants and retailers truly play an important role in our ability to define and describe the real essence of the Gaston County experience. This makes it particularly appropriate during Restaurant and Retail week of GO Month that we recognize and patronize many of our outstanding local dining and retail establishments that help attract visitors here to Gaston County.
Another distinction Gaston County holds is having the most individual municipalities of any county among North Carolina’s 100 counties. In tourism marketing, we consider each downtown a unique attraction unto itself. With the programming offered by all, including parades, festivals, concerts, farmers markets, and more, our downtowns each offer a blend of retailers and restaurants that you won’t find anywhere else. All of which call out to be explored and experienced. A visitor could spend three months of getaway weekends enjoying all of our unique cities and towns and we urge them to do just that.
I also encourage you, our local residents to go explore Gaston’s unique cities and towns. In recognition of Restaurant & Retail Week during GO Month many restaurants and retailers have made special offers available. You can check out that list at gastonoutside.com. In the meantime, here is a small sample of retail and restaurant options and pairings that I think would make for interesting and enjoyable excursions.
Better yet, I also encourage you to share your own discoveries and pairings of our other many fine restaurants and businesses with us on social media using the hashtags #gogaston and #gastonoutside. Who knows? Your suggestion could end up as a part of a future destination marketing effort.
Belmont - Catawba River Antique Mall and Peace N Hominy Q Shack
Bessemer City - Otis’ Merchandise Gallery and Central Drug
Cherryville - The Great Outdoors and Downtown Dairy Treats
Cramerton - Cramerton Drug and Mayworth’s
Dallas - Gaston County Museum of Art & History and Pappas Pizza
Gastonia - The Sleepy Poet Antique Mall and Webb Custom Kitchen
Kings Mountain - Patriot Jack’s and 238 Cherokee Grill
Lowell - Back of the Moon Boutique and Grits & Greens Southern Cuisine
McAdenville - 115 Main Gifts & Provisions and See Jane Bake
Mount Holly - The Vintage Nest and 128 South Main Chop House
Ranlo - Lewis Farms and Will’s Doggin It
Stanley - Brevard Station Museum and The Woodshed
These are just a few of my ideas. If you want a more complete picture of everything each city and town has to offer, visit Travel and Tourism’s website at gogaston.org.
Although I may get the satisfaction of communicating our tourism story to a worldwide audience, I very well recognize that I’d have a lesser story to tell without the considerable investment our local businesses have made and continue to make in our community. Thank you for what you do every day to encourage visitors to GO Gaston and to keep coming back.
Michael Applegate is Gaston County’s director of Travel & Tourism.