My husband and I are the owners of The Honey Hole of the Blue Ridge, located at 6 N. Third Avenue in downtown West Jefferson. We celebrated our one year anniversary on Dec. 19, 2012….with MORE celebration because of the wonderful, prosperous year we had. My initial business predictions fell WAY short of the actual, with us experiencing 40 percent higher sales than initially projected. I attribute much of this success to the individuals and groups that have tirelessly worked to enhance tourism to downtown West Jefferson. I am proud to be a member of the Ashe County Chamber of Commerce and the West Jefferson Business Association and appreciate their representation and support of The Honey Hole.
I recently attended the West Jefferson Alderman meeting held on Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, at town hall. The main reason for my attendance was to hear the outcome of the pending sign ordinance revisions….of which I am directly and profoundly impacted. The decision on that was “tabled” for later.
In addition, the subject of the antique fair was broached. There obviously is a great deal of division in opinion on this topic. West Jefferson Mayor Dale Baldwin and Town Manager Brantley Price approached me separately, in addition to several of the organizers of the Antique Fair and asked if I felt my business would be negatively impacted if it was held on Main Street versus The Backstreet. I told them emphatically that I would love to see it held on Main Street. While it would indeed cut off my usual customer parking on Third Avenue, the majority of my customer base comes to me “on foot” from Jefferson Avenue, anyway. The only customers that may be mildly inconvenienced would be my beekeepers, but I’m sure they would understand ONE Saturday out of 52 weeks of the year. I firmly believe that LOCATION of the fair plays a significant role in its success, now and for the future.
The antique fair “weekend” held this past September resulted in comparable sales that we experienced during Christmas in July….and a tremendous BOON to the otherwise “slow” sales period of September in West Jefferson. I applauded their efforts and really appreciated the results…not just for me, but for the Town of West Jefferson. I LOVE seeing all of the coming and going and people remarking “We had no idea West Jefferson has so much to offer!” I got comments like that all day long. For many, it was first time visitors that I have no doubt will return because of the positive impact of our town. Several of those visits resulted in holiday sales for me…people that were here in September, called and placed orders that I sent all over the state and further…all reflecting West Jefferson’s impression and positive dedication to tourism.
Now…the comments of the aldermen… Calvin Green wanted the decision tabled to find another location because “One of the businesses negatively impacted pay $7-8,000.00 in local taxes every year and their stance should be taken into consideration.” I was absolutely appalled at that remark. Because a business pays higher TAXES to the county, THEIR business needs should be held in higher esteem than everyone else? Isn’t that some sort of blackmail or preferential treatment? As a business owner in downtown West Jefferson, that has garnered a HUGE tourist draw, I was highly offended by that remark. Another obstacle…parking for people attending movies at Parkway Theater. The street parking would be blocked off and people would have to walk a half block from Jefferson Avenue. My response to that? Ninety-eight percent of my customers walk SEVERAL blocks in their downtown shopping to get to me…and I am a destination business for my beekeepers…they will get to me…no matter what.
I am fully in favor of the antiques fair being held on Main Street for no other reason than I am in support of helping promote positive tourism and I am in favor of showcasing ALL of West Jefferson…not just The Backstreet or Jefferson Avenue and all that we have to offer. I, personally, would like to see the WJBA stand their ground on the location for the fair on Main Street and not accept “preferential and biased” opinions for NOT holding it at that location…and in turn, consider ALL businesses affected both positively and negatively, economically..rather than just a few…simply based on their tax bills. The tax base of ONE business does NOT support all of downtown West Jefferson, nor should the size of their tax base be an influence in a decision that will affect ALL downtown businesses.
Shelley Felder, Owner
The Honey Hole of the Blue Ridge