While eating lunch at the Floyd Country Store recently, a couple who moved to the area six years ago stopped by my table to announce they were moving to Idaho next month.

When I asked why, both said Floyd did not turn out to be the country mecca they hoped to find.

Floyd, Carlie Jamison said, “is trying too hard to be trendy.”  Her companion, John Ashland, agreed.

“The thing we liked about Floyd when we first started looking to settle here was the area’s lack of pretentiousness,” he said. “That’s gone now, killed by those who are trying too hard to turn Floyd into something it’s not.”

John and Carlie are the latest residents who have left or are planning to leave the area. Some head out west, to the wide open spaces of Montana, Wyoming or Idaho. Others head to rural areas in the South.

Their concern is shared by others. More and more over breakfast at the Blue Ridge Restaurant or the Country Store I hear talk about how some feel that Floyd is moving away from its roots.

“Floyd’s charm was that it was not trying to be something that it is not,” emailed Nancy Behn recently. “That’s gone now. Time to move on.”

There’s little doubt that Floyd has changed more in the last five years than in the 50 years before 2005. Some have prospered from the change. Others have suffered.

The change has brought new restaurants, new shops, more focus on music, more jobs for some, economic opportunities and attention to the area.

The change has also brought traffic, crime and other problems that many moved here to escape.

Is this good or bad?

You tell us.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. I live in Riner. I purposefully avoid Floyd. Why? It feels like a crazy outside culture that I’m not invited to. The people stare as if they know I’m not from there. The little town takes on a hippy-ish feel. The people who have moved there in recent years are elitist and not the least bit interested in the country life.

    In fact, I went on the ghost walk of Floyd last Halloween. The group guide was an actor in one of the local theatre’s. He was wonderful! However, one of the couples that joined our tour had recently moved there from New York. And the lady was wearing heels. She complained constantly about the walking (like the keyword “walk” in “Ghost Walk” didn’t click with her or something) and went on and on about how wonderfully “quaint” Floyd was, while casting dirty looks to the rest of the group who were dressed in jeans and sweatshirts – appropriate weather outfits.

  2. Yeah, and it was those darn elitists and newcomers who caused all the controversy over the Arts and Crafts Fair. What’s the big deal about a racist bookseller? He’d always been there. Why change? The fact is, change is inevitable. As a citizen, have your voice heard and make a change for the better, be in control of change. The “hippie-ish” charge that Elle makes is so old it’s got mold on it. “Elitist” and hippie are really covering the spectrum and, once again, if it’s just about casting aspersions then what’s the point? Go get mad somewhere else. Otherwise, work for positive change. Period.

  3. Change is inevitable. Many places have most of what people need. I loved this area when I moved here 30 years ago and still do. Being happy in one’s home has so much more to do with one’s inner life than any “outside” influences, IMHO. The things that attracted me, open space, seasons, clean air and water, diverse community, country life with cultural opportunities, have remained. Are those who move on looking for an area with only like minded people? Good luck with that. Diversity is a spice of life I think. I’m happy to see young people making homes here. An area must grow or it stagnates and dies. I like the kinds of growth we are seeing, I appreciate having local culture. When I first moved here there was almost no night life, it’s nice to have options.

  4. I believe the results speak for themself. I think the keyword is “sustainable”. You and that David guy have something in common. You have roots here but that doesn’t change the fact you came here with a pile of money you made elsewhere. Cheap land is attractive because then you have more money to build something you couldn’t afford elsewhere.

    People migrate for several reasons. Many are tax refugees. It sure isn’t for income opportunities. So, the McMansion era made some money for the players and irrational exhuberance with cheap and fraudulent money fueled the fire. Goodbye dairy farms, hello hobby farms. The property tax goes up and the long term residents suffer ever increasing taxes based on some theory that they want to sell and there is an endless supply of buyers that will pay more and more forever forward.

    That might support some specialty shops and the faux country folks then want a Starbucks and every other brand franchise, just like where they came from. They aren’t necessarily big spenders since they took this path partly so they can imagine they won’t outlive there money.

    This was working for the tail end of the Greatest Generation and some of the earliest Baby Boomers. Does this story exist in your rear view mirror? The future buyers don’t exist and more aren’t accumulating any wealth or even the funds to move if they wished to. Now there are cheaper places to migrate to if employment and producing income are non factors.

    Well, at least you can talk about it with the people that eat out frequently. Don’t forget to support them all, there are only so many customers to go around. If tourism, or lack of, isn’t profitable for the Blue Ridge Parkway vending contractor, are they the reason? Quality restaurants and wine and beer joints will open and close. Is there an adult toy store yet?

    Floyd will survive, it has for a long time.

  5. Folks complain about all the new stores and to much traffic in Floyd…I remember Ben Franklin, Western Auto, Boyds Store, Webb’s Jewelry, Moses Resturant, High’s Furniture, a couple of Factories, 3 car dealerships….hummmmmm gosh I wish we had all that back….but I’m am proud that people are providing business so Floyd doesn’t become a ghost town for sure. Times change..look at the 114 intersection at the mall in Christiansburg…I remember when that was all a field…I also remember when you looked forward to the Christmas book from Sears coming after Thanksgiving..not after July 4th….And I remember when we said prayer in school and One Nation Under God meant something. Boy do I ever wish we had that back !!!

  6. There is much to love and celebrate about Floyd (and Riner, and for that matter, the entire southwest Virginia area, and indeed our entire country…) The ‘vigilant guardian of the small picture’ complains about progress as though they had something to do with it, or had some control over it. The inane reference to someone different from us, or someone who may have arrived here from points beyond, by calling them ‘hippy’ or ‘elitist’ is insulting and representative of a disgusting bias. I suggest the day is long past, that we come together to recognize our collective strengths rather than barking about our differences. An evolutionary time is upon us, and gratitude and kindness to our fellow humans would be good first steps.

  7. He asked a question. I answered it. Change is absolutely inevitable. But, is it good or bad? In Floyd’s case, it’s not moving in the right direction. But … I don’t live there and I avoid the area. So, I have no reason to work for “positive change” – even though the phrases used in Early Winn’s message rings reminiscent of a failed “change” platform in our world. Sure, Floyd doesn’t want to become a “ghost town,” but does it really want its fine wine status tainted with the bitter bite of tequila shipped from another country?

    The real estate taxes statement raised a very pertinent argument. Residents are being burdened by an ever-rising tax assessment as those who flood the area with “new money” settle in. Yes, that money will help support the local merchants …… but unless they don’t live in the area, their real estate tax hike will make everything even out to close to the same as it was before the “new money” provided extra income. They cannot “sustain” themselves unless they figure out how to pay homage and give respect to those who built the town, while inviting outsiders in and encouraging them to do the same.

    Floyd is proud of its roots, right? Then it needs to fight for its roots, because they’re being dug up and tossed in the brush pile to be burnt and paved over to make a parking lot for a brand spanking new figurative Macy’s.

    It’s kind of embarrassing.

  8. Actually, Elle, what you write is “kind of embarrassing.” You speak in generalities, hyperbole and metaphor with very little, if any, ideas or thoughts that might be called constructive. And, you admit, YOU DON’T EVEN LIVE HERE. Just keep avoiding the area, as you are wont to do, and let those of us who do live here find a solution because, despite what you ponificate about, there is one.

  9. How does a town try to be something it’s not? I don’t get it. I am a firm believer of life being what you make it. The “Don’t get above your raisin'” argument is meaningless to me without specific examples. How have the changes in Floyd killed the “country lifestyle” Elle writes about? It seems to me the country lifestyle hasn’t changed, and it is in the country; not in town. I think a lot of the people who complain about these changes just don’t like the variety of people who have come to Floyd. They long for the more homogenous Floyd of the past where they see faces that are familiar from school, church, and other places. They don’t like strangers, especially those who they suspect aren’t like them.

    On another note, cashing out and moving to a new town after retiring seems like a sketchy proposition to me. People living in a small town have typically had the same friends and peers for a lot of years. Breaking into the tight social circles that exist seems like it would be tough even if the town is what you thought it would be.

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