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Area Merchants Working Together: Berlin, Millersburg and Walnut Creek get ready for the holidays

Katherine Ryder Published: November 1, 2010 10:08 AM

Berlin, Millersburg and Walnut Creek. Even though these three areas are different in their markets, they each have very similar ideas when it comes to relating to their neighbors.

It's no secret why these three areas are such a magnet for locals and tourists to spend their time.

Nestled in the heart of what is considered "Amish Country," and boosting with beautiful scenery and hospitable morale these surrounding areas have a lot to offer their visitors.

But above all that, their friendly stores and cultural-rich environments are not restricted to that of newcomers. It's the people behind the welcoming doors and organized events that really makes places like Berlin, Millersburg and Walnut Creek so appealing.

Tom Wilke, downtown manager of Historic Downtown Millersburg, describes the appeal of these three areas similar to that of an opportunity.

"We've worked with Holmes County Tourism Council to make sure Holmes County is presented as a destination with a variety of experiences to offer potential toursits," Wilke said. "From the rustic Amish charm it's so well known for to the Historic Village experience Millersburg has to offer, there's a potential of really capitalizing on the Amish and Victorian themes of our three communities."

It's no small task trying to coordinated enough events to keep these bustling areas so popular. And in the many efforts that are made, the managers to these areas are more than willing to turn each event " even if it's not their own " into a success.

"We try to work with each other's schedules so we don't have conflicting days and events," said Zedric Clark owner of Nature's Food Market located in Berlin. "On the other hand, I believe the more there is to do the better. Personally I don't think there is any such thing as too many tourists."

Clark offers a piece of advice when it comes to planning annual events.

"Once you find a good weekend for an event, especially if that event is going to be annual, it's a good idea to keep it on the same day or weekend every year. That way people know when to expect it and you tend to not get a lot of conflict," Clark said.

In terms of competition, both Wilke and Clark work with it.

"I see a lot more complimentary business than competing business," Clark said.

Wilke agrees.

"I think the Victorian-theme of Downtown Millersburg can be a positive," Wilke said. "We can offer an alternative to the extended stay or frequent visitor to Holmes County. Our historic buildings are unique in the county, our retailers offer a different line of products (primarily antiques) and our businesses are all located in a compact six-block area."

The fact that each area has something different to offer its guests benefits all those who make the trip.

"I think the competition helps," Clark said. "Even if there are two stores selling the same products, there is still going to be a variety of differences the variables of each store. Such as how the products are displayed, the size of the store, the number of staff, etc.

"I think people should really recognize how much we help each other."

With all of the tourists that visit the area, particularly during the summer and fall months, each merchant and each business manager sees them as a blessing.

"We're very blessed with the number of tourists and guests that we have," Clark said.

"In my opinion, we need these three locations (Berlin, Millersburg and Walnut Creek) to house all of the people that come through our areas.

"We wouldn't be able to house everyone or support the numbers by ourselves."

The depth of respect and hospitality that each community provides is unmistakeable to any other vacationing spot.

"It's important to be respectful of the other areas," Clark said. "We don't talk badly about the other areas. We try to be helpful. If and when we have people come through who are interested in stopping in Millersburg or Walnut Creek we try to give them ideas of where they should go."

Another important factor is to remember, like in the spirit of the upcoming holidays, what a blessing the business and the visitors are.

"Never, never, never ever take things for granted," Clark said. "People come here because of how we treat them. I don't like to refer to our areas as a step back to the past, rather I see it as a step toward the human connection.

"It's about giving them the experience they're looking for. They come down here for the experience."

For all event listings in the Berlin, Millersburg and Walnut Creek areas visit their corresponding websites.

To find events in Berlin visit www.berlinohio.com.

To find events in Millersburg visit www.millersburgohio.com.

To find events in Walnut Creek visit www.walnutcreekohio.org.


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