What ails Brown County?

March 25, 2008
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What Hoosier hasnâ??t been to Brown County for the fall colors, to shop in Nashville or tromp on the trails at Brown County State Park?

Yet, as IBJ correspondent Jonathan Hiskes reported in this weekendâ??s edition, prosperity is coming harder and harder for merchants. One indicator, hotel sales, has stalled at $10 million to $12 million a year.

Whatâ??s wrong? Shopkeepers, tourism officials and others disagree about how to keep the tourists coming and attract new ones. And they worry about competition from French Lick, which has a new casino and restored hotels.

How likely are you to visit Brown County? What needs to happen to make the cash registers ring with authority again?
  • One thought: Brown County should not consider the competition at French Lick as a threat, but rather as an opportunity. Why not develop a south central Indiana regional approach to attracting tourists? This could include such areas as Brown Co., Bloomington, French Lick attractions and the Columbus architectural attractions....plus others, I'm sure. This package of attractions might draw tourists from a bigger potential area than would be attracted to Brown Co. alone.

    Just a thought.
  • I think one of the problems is that the entire landscape of shops, restaraunts and other entertainment options in that town has not changed in 10 years. I used to go there with my mom all the time and then on dates when I went to IU. Never changes. I think people have grown old and tired of it. Not very many new shopping areas. They need to incorporate more festivals or attractions or liven it up there with some nightlife. It shuts down at 6 and I don't think is even open on Mondays anymore. Just my thoughts.
  • I also feel the area lacks some uniqueness........they should probably focus more on the hand crafted, artistic nature of the area.......instead of selling buck loads of chinese made
  • Some of the responders above have hit upon the solution. It's all about uniqueness. What attracted people to Brown County in its glory days was that there was no other place in Indiana quite like it. That seems to have been lost in recent years. Local leaders need to recapture the uniqueness of the place's culture, art, and entertainment and ensure that it is evident in key shops, attractions and events. Remember something else, too: almost everyone you talk to today remarks about how busy, how hectic their lives are. Align that belief with a key aspect of Brown County's uniqueness, namely, the sense that somehow life was slower and more relaxed there. Brown County can succeed again.

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  1. With Pence running the ship good luck with a new government building on the site. He does everything on the cheap except unnecessary roads line a new beltway( like we need that). Things like state of the art office buildings and light rail will never be seen as an asset to these types. They don't get that these are the things that help a city prosper.

  2. Does the $100,000,000,000 include salaries for members of Congress?

  3. "But that doesn't change how the piece plays to most of the people who will see it." If it stands out so little during the day as you seem to suggest maybe most of the people who actually see it will be those present when it is dark enough to experience its full effects.

  4. That's the mentality of most retail marketers. In this case Leo was asked to build the brand. HHG then had a bad sales quarter and rather than stay the course, now want to go back to the schlock that Zimmerman provides (at a considerable cut in price.) And while HHG salesmen are, by far, the pushiest salesmen I have ever experienced, I believe they are NOT paid on commission. But that doesn't mean they aren't trained to be aggressive.

  5. The reason HHG's sales team hits you from the moment you walk through the door is the same reason car salesmen do the same thing: Commission. HHG's folks are paid by commission they and need to hit sales targets or get cut, while BB does not. The sales figures are aggressive, so turnover rate is high. Electronics are the largest commission earners along with non-needed warranties, service plans etc, known in the industry as 'cheese'. The wholesale base price is listed on the cryptic price tag in the string of numbers near the bar code. Know how to decipher it and you get things at cost, with little to no commission to the sales persons. Whether or not this is fair, is more of a moral question than a financial one.