When thinking of Boone, and indeed all of Watauga County, the image that comes to mind is downhome character.
One of the things that typifies that feeling is our local businesses that cannot be duplicated or mass produced. The downhome goodness that comes from our friends and neighbors, who have honed their craft to deliver a unique taste, cannot come out of a mass produced recipe. The local folks who work in these businesses provide the neighborly service often lacking in one-size-fits-all national chains.
Tourists and their dollars are a major part of the yearly income for most local businesses. My fear is that if Boone and Watauga do not open up soon, we will lose those local businesses.
I am not suggesting that downtown would be empty. I’m sure many national stores and restaurants and retailers would rush to fill the void, as Boone and Watauga are premier destinations in the High Country. But to my mind, a bagel out of a box, or soup out of a can, cannot replace what we now have: neighborly service can never be replaced by a corporate script.
It is my hope that the county and town will implement safe guidelines for businesses to open up so we can save the special down home neighborly feeling that is our home. Watauga and the towns in it do not need to lose what makes it a unique place to live work and visit. Community does not come in a can or box. Community does come from a common goal to save what is worth saving and to collectively overcome what threatens our uniqueness.