Kingsville pride before Kingsville takeover

Kingsville could look very different next year, if the city’s tourism staff gets its wish.

Over the weekend, a video began making the rounds on social media showcasing the city’s entry for a new HGTV show launching next year called “Home Town Takeover.” The show is a spin-off of one on HGTV starring a couple named Ben and Erin Napier who fix up houses in their hometown of Laurel, Miss.

The idea is grand, at least in the way HGTV is pitching it – how about instead of a few houses, we makeover a whole town? Well, not quite an entire town – the company’s own press release last month stated it would do some homes, eateries and recreational spaces – but enough to definitely have an impact.

The comments on our Facebook post in which we shared a story on the video seemed overwhelmingly positive. There seemed to be genuine excitement about the possibility that Kingsville could be put in the national spotlight, where our history and some of the things that make Kingsville unique could be seen by a wider audience.

But I did see one that essentially said so long as people in town don’t support local businesses or events, then nothing will be a success in Kingsville. As much as people might not like to hear it, there’s truth in what that person stated.

Small businesses, often referred to as “mom and pops,” are the lifeblood of any community. They add to the charm of a town and make it so that there is a unique feel to the environment it creates.

Don’t believe me? Think of Harrel’s Pharmacy, El Tapatio, Blue Ribbon or Spice Station. All of these are local businesses that are not available anywhere else.

Sure, maybe you can find a burger joint somewhere else, and Mexican restaurants are a dime a dozen all across South Texas. But these restaurants are locally owned and employ local people.

They have become gathering places for people in this community over the years and are very much a vital part of what makes Kingsville unique. Small business owners are some of the bravest people in the world because they are taking what most people would treat as just an idea or a thought and work like hell to make it a reality.

Imagine, then, that the idea you have poured your savings, time and heart into is brushed aside because maybe things cost a little less at a chain business or restaurant, or online.

I can’t imagine the frustration and hurt that must come from seeing money that could be used to help a small business grow be spent outside Kingsville or to a chain for which revenue is dealt in the hundreds of thousands or millions.

The same can be said for local events, which are designed to address that age-old argument given by pessimists all over town: There’s nothing to do in Kingsville.

The reality is that there are many things to do in and around Kingsville, so long as you’re willing to look for them.

Sure, many of these events can be small in scope, but there are some of the grander events that make Kingsville a destination for people outside of our community.

The biggest example of that is the upcoming Wings Over South Texas Air Show coming in early April. But there’s also the Ranch Hand Festival in November. Each of these events draws over 100,000 people to Kingsville and has a significant economic impact.

These are people that spend money on local hotels, eat at local restaurants and shop at local businesses. But what sort of message are we sending when local businesses have to rely on those outside the community to make ends meet?

I would argue that small businesses should be able to count on their communities to support them on a regular basis and build them up. Having that revenue from visitors should be icing on the cake, not a life preserver.

There’s pride in Kingsville – that much is evident in the fact that there were several other individuals who tried to enter videos for the contest aside from the City of Kingsville. But pride doesn’t always equate to action for everyone, and that I think is what needs to change most.

It’s great that the city is trying for what HGTV is offering, as it's an opportunity too good to pass up. Countless other communities across the nation thought so, too, judging by a quick Google search and seeing stories popping up from different newspapers in those towns.

But if it doesn’t happen, then the question shouldn’t be “What now?” Kingsville is a special place to live, but we as a community should look around and ask “What can I do?” and go from there.

In that sense, perhaps the real takeover should come from within our community, and not from outside.

Tim Acosta is the editor and publisher of the Kingsville Record and Bishop News. He can be reached at editor@kingsvillerecord.com.

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