Tour through time: How history, industry and change can sell a city

Tour through time: How history, industry and change can sell a city

There are so many things I love about my job, but nothing compares to the days I spend taking clients on tours of Greensboro. It is truly special to introduce my clients to the city I’ve called home my entire life and see them start to imagine their own lives here.

My career in real estate has provided me with a unique perspective on our city’s evolution. I’ve helped people sell and buy homes as Greensboro has become a hotspot for textiles, tournaments, air travel, the performing arts and more. Recently, we’ve seen cutting-edge companies bringing additional serious economic development to our area. My friend Neill McNeill is the broadcast journalist and anchor you know from the local evening news. He’s been covering the Triad for WGHP for more than 30 years and shares my love of Greensboro. Neill joined me on my podcast, Melissa Unscripted, for an episode to swap stories about some of the inspiring people and businesses from our city’s rich history. You can find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radio and more.

I love to highlight our history as a textile town on my tours with clients. Many people associate the name “Cone” with Cone Health but don’t know much about its namesake, the Cone family. Greensboro-based Cone Mills was once the largest denim maker in the world, and for over 100 years, their White Oak plant produced the denim for Levi’s 501 jeans. Cone Mills’ legacy is the reason Kontoor Brands, which includes Lee & Wrangler, and our nickname “Jeansboro” are a proud part of Greensboro today.

Kontoor isn’t the only major company in our area that Neill and I name-dropped on the podcast. The Fresh Market, HondaJet, the North American headquarters for Volvo Group and the corporate headquarters for Tanger Outlets also call Greensboro home, and longtime residents may also remember Girbaud and Burlington Industries.

Greensboro’s innovative spirit has brought in exciting developments in recent months, like Toyota’s planned $1.3 billion electric vehicle battery factory just south of Greensboro, and the upcoming manufacturing facility for Boom Supersonic at Piedmont Triad International Airport. And who could forget the once-in-a-lifetime unveiling of the new Steven Tanger Center for Performing Arts, which has already transformed downtown.

Development brings change, vibrancy, convenience and opportunities, all of which are relevant to a buyer’s decision. Here are a few ways you can incorporate industry history and news into your conversations with clients:

  1. Learn the stories of your city. Do your homework! What is your city known for? What shaped your city that people might not know about? Ask longtime residents to share their stories and check out local museums. Then, share what you’ve learned with clients. Put a face and story with buildings, businesses and names you see around town, and help your buyer build an emotional connection and interest while touring. Many buyers have an interest in buying a historic home – why not a historic city? Your enthusiasm about history will fuel theirs.

    On the podcast, Neill brought up the history of The Fresh Market – a story I never get tired of hearing. Founder Ray Berry and his wife, Beverly, were driving up the east coast looking for a place to open a grocery store when his car broke down. A stranger approached them, they got to talking, and when Ray told him what he was doing, the stranger told him to get out of the car and spend some time in Greensboro. Ray and Beverly fell in love with the area and in 1982, The Fresh Market opened its first store on Lawndale Drive.

  2. Know what’s on the horizon. Pay attention to upcoming developments and be prepared to answer questions about the expected impact on the area and quality of life. Big announcements can bring jobs and increased value, but also construction and traffic. Stay up to date with business publications and government meetings, and talk with others in your industry. Buyers will appreciate your expertise and foresight.
  3. Look for buyers in new places. The increase in remote work can mean your client pool has gotten bigger. Buyers in nearby cities may be eager for a change in scenery or to explore ways to get more bang for their buck now that they are not tied to an office. If they are still going into the office, help them think outside the box – for example, a commute from Greensboro to Charlotte may not be too much longer than going from one end of Queen City to the other!
  4. Help them imagine a night out downtown…or how conveniences can make everyday life better. Both the flashy parts of development and the small conveniences can help sell an area. For some, imagining a date night to see a show at the Tanger Center just a short drive or walk away, followed by a drink in LeBauer Park under incredible illuminated public art is something they won’t be able to get out of their head. For others, the convenience of being able to run to three different hardware stores or their favorite grocery store when they run out of milk or need a lightbulb is even better! Figure out what your client is looking for and help them discover it in your city.
  5. Focus on quality of life. For Neill, what makes Greensboro a great place to work and raise a family? Exceptional medical care at Cone Health, strong public schools and higher education opportunities, exciting retail and dining options, and friendly, inviting community means Greensboro is a place with everything you need. Highlight these kinds of things for your buyers.

It excites me to see how new businesses (big AND small), new people and new ideas are shaping Greensboro. I love introducing clients to this warm, diverse and innovative place and to have watched it evolve throughout my real estate career. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

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