STAUNTON -- A popular street in Staunton has garnered national attention once again.
The American Planning Association last week named West Beverley St. one of ten "Great Streets in America."
The accolade is just the latest for the street and the city. Last year, Smithsonian Magazine named Staunton one of the top ten best small towns in America, and Travel + Leisure magazine named Beverley St. one of America's greatest main streets.
Whatever the draw, said Nick Blanton, owner of The Split Banana, the reputation Staunton has won in recent years makes a big impact for his business.
"When we started, we thought that maybe 60 to 90 - or probably 70 to 90 - percent of our business was local, repeat customers," Blanton said. "But each year, we see more and more tourists flooding in. It's from things like the magazines and the awards that we get."
Just up the street at Made, owner Corrie Park said the accolades were a big factor in deciding where she would open up shop.
"When it came to actually doing the business plan and data analysis and crunching the numbers and stuff like that, all the great publicity that Staunton has gotten was a major draw for me to feel more comfortable to come here and actually be successful," Park said.
For Park and Blanton, it is a cycle: the better businesses like Made and The Split Banana do, the more vibrant the downtown economy becomes, which makes it that much more attractive for visitors.
"People just kind of stop off to take a break and then they just fall in love," Park said. "They come in and they're like, 'Oh my gosh, we didn't even know this was here,' or 'Oh my gosh, this is an awesome place to be.' And it is."
"Other cities look at Staunton and they scratch their heads and say, 'How can we get this cycle going?'" Blanton said.
Blanton grew up in Staunton, but says in recent years, Beverley St. - and business opportunities along it - have blossomed.
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