My little town of Warrenton, Virginia, started off life not as a destination, but rather as a convenient stopping point between other destinations. In the late 1700s, it had a road running through it between Falmouth, a port town on the Rappahanock River, and Winchester, an early European settlement and frontier town where once a 17 year-old George Washington was offical surveyor in the area. That road crossed paths at the place where Warrenton would grow with a road between Alexandria and Culpeper, Virginia.
At the crossroads, a trading post was set up, known as the Red Store (the original building has been incorporated into a larger building, and still exists on Main Street in Warrenton). A blacksmith shop and an inn or two also came into existence, and the commerce in the area originally existed primarily to serve those who were traveling down one of the roads or another.
Others started settling into the area, and a decision was made to set up a Courthouse at this crossroads, and a County to manage governance of the land. The town grew up around the crossroads until the late 1960s, when a bypass brought traffic around the center of town, as well as moving the focus of much of the commerce in the area. The Old Town section of Warrenton is still host to a number of stores, but many of those passing through the area no longer have to travel its hilly and narrow streets.
A new sporting goods store recently started moving into one of the shopping developments located along that bypass, and it’s the third shop in that collective of stores to sell sports-related merchandise. The local paper, published twice a week regardless of whether enough happened in town to fill it or not, reported on the new business and got the reactions of its competitors. Except, the other places selling sporting goods welcomed the new shop with open arms.
The new store is somewhat of a traditional sporting goods store, selling goods that involve sporting recreations such as tennis and golf and other sports activities. As such, it compliments rather than competes with the other stores. One of those focuses upon outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, fishing, and surviving in the woods around town and in nearby recreational destinations such as the Shenandoah National Park. The other store is a local hardware store that started supplying team sport equipment for the local schools such as baseball and football uniforms, because there was a need.
Another local store recently changed where they did business when a new location became available near the horse and pony fairgrounds. They specialize in equestrian equipment and wine, and the new location brought them to a place where horse riders in the area could see them from the popular competition fields. But they left an empty storefront that I’m hoping is filled by someone wanting to start a restaurant. There’s a restaurant next to the old store location, and if the right kind of eatery opens at that spot, the two wouldn’t necessarily be competitors, but might actually work to help draw people to the part of town they occupy.
The other restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, and publishes one of the higher priced menus in the area. I’d love to see the empty location, which has a perfect interior for dining, offer a breakfast/lunch menu at somewhat more affordable prices. It would be a great location for a coffee house, and together with the other restaurant would attract dinners to the location. While there are a couple of great bakeries in the area that service pastries and coffee, they really don’t provide enough seating to offer a coffee house experience.
I visit a good number of websites every week, from single person operations to sites run by multi-national conglomerates. I always ask myself a few questions upon entering a new website. One is, “Who is this site for?” The other is, “What problems does this site solve?”
Those are questions I ask when I visit your website. The answers are going to determine how long I spend on your site.