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Street Talk

Every Picture Tells A Story


An integral part of this Main Street Association’s success has been the ability to tell the Water Valley story in a compelling way. We have been lucky in that Water Valley’s Main Street has gotten some great press – from the New York Times to Southern Living to Die Zeit (Germany’s largest newspaper). A recent example continues to do that, in late January a YouTube video  shot here last June about economic impact and downtown effort, was posted by Fair Companies.  As of this writing, it has some 84,000 views. 

The interest created by this video also lead to an article in the business magazine Fast Company in mid February and a column in Bloomberg News in early March, both featuring Water Valley as the positive role model with the economic theme of small town downtowns as the place for young entrepreneurship. 

Now if you were to pay for that kind of advertising or promotion, it would cost you tens of thousands of dollars. Just as an example from last year, the Garden&Gun magazine’s two-page article on Water Valley  was a huge promotional deal for the town. It took considerable effort, over three years, to get the piece, but did not cost us a dime. If you were to buy a single page for one issue in that magazine, like many do, it goes for $36,000 dollars. 

I’d like you to imagine two guys in your mind, both from the same generation; Rod Stewart and Jack Gurner. I think Rod is a little older. Rod’s famous line that, “Every picture tells a story don’t it?” is the driving theme to Jack’s work. Pretty sure it is the only song on Jack’s iPod.

Jack’s life-long love with a camera has benefited this downtown’s association ability to tell the Valley’s story. The images he has shot downtown, starting in the 1960s, have documented the once was, the decline, and the return of this one Main Street. And a textual weaving of these of images, the every picture telling a story, is and has been a critical part in making Water Valley known nationally and now internationally. 

Let me remind you, in the Deep South alone (LA, AL, GA, MS) there are 1,200 towns our size trying to get their story out. Some pay a lot, some are just spinning their wheels. We’re doing neither, we’re low cost and high traction.

Jack Gurner has a photography show opening this Friday night from 6 to 9 at Bozarts Gallery. It is from his Memphis period, but having seen a preview, I would suggest that the images are southern and relevant to us in the Valley. You should come out; it’ll be a great night to be downtown.

Your Main Street Association and the Water Valley Arts Council are in membership mode. If you have received your renewal in the mail, please consider the evolution of the downtown in the last 10 years as you write your check. We think the dues are a penny on the dollar in terms of economic impact and downtown rehabilitation. Making the Valley a better place for all. And if you want to join, call us at 473-6767.

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