101. HGTV's Ben Napier On Perfecting Small Towns
Welcome to another episode of the Willoughby Hills podcast!
In this latest episode, I welcome Ben Napier from HGTV’s Home Town. Viewers of the show may be familiar with Ben and his wife Erin’s small town of Laurel, Mississippi, which the Napiers have played a big role in helping to revive.
Ben once served as president of Laurel’s Main Street America chapter and even ran for a seat on the city council. His hope was to eventually become the mayor of Laurel. Even though that didn’t happen, his work on HGTV may have had a bigger impact on the city than serving in local government ever could have.
Ben and Erin, along with their business partners, own and operate three small businesses in Laurel’s historic downtown: Laurel Mercantile, Scotsman General Store (which also houses Ben’s wood shop), and the recently opened Laurel Mercantile Scent Library.
The stores feature almost exclusively American made products. I mention in the interview that Ben had sent me some swag from the store a few years ago, and I was struck by the “Made In U.S.A.” sticker. It stood out to me and caused me to think about my own consumerism.
In this interview, I was especially interested in what it takes to build community and to keep a small town economy strong. Ben shared not only his experience with Laurel, but also what he and Erin learned working on Home Town Takeover in Wetumpka, Alabama and Fort Morgan, Colorado. The latter series is currently airing on HGTV.
If you’re interested in learning more about Ben, Erin, and Laurel, I highly recommend their memoir Make Something Good Today, which goes into great detail about the revival of the city.
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