...an old service station, gussied up to look like its namesake on the
"Andy Griffith Show." You can hire a tour guide here to
drive you around town in an old sheriff's car. :-)
Mount Airy, N.C. is a small town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was incorporated in1885, and did very well producing tobacco, furniture, textiles and granite from the (very large) granite quarry. By the 1960s those industries had begun to dwindle, and the passage of NAFTA in the late 1980s closed down most of the remaining textile mills.
So, what to do to help the economy? Turns out that Andy Griffith, the
creator and star of the popular TV shows The Andy Griffith Show (and
its sequel, Mayberry RFD) of the 1960s, hails from Mount Airy - and
that he used the town and its rural setting as inspiration for the
shows. Almost 20 years after the TV shows stopped production, Mount
Airy began to reinvent itself, using the popularity of the shows
(STILL being shown in reruns on cable TV!) to create an interesting
spot for tourists. North Main Street is home to the original Snappy
Lunch (still operating after 80 years!). Other businesses have renamed
themselves after the show (The City Barbershop is now Floyd's
Barbershop), or call themselves "Mayberry (whatever)."
(More in the links.)
It's working. Everyday in the summer you see tourists walking around town - and I have snapped many a photo of families sitting on the bench outside Floyd's or waiting in line outside the Snappy Lunch - they must take me for a local when I visit in the summers. ;-)
Mount Airy has also made it onto many a list of best small towns of America...