Barbourville hosts ‘secret shoppers’

The results are in from a group of secret shoppers and Barbourville, although stacking up pretty well in many categories, has a bit of work to do in others.

At the March 12 Tourism meeting, director Denise Wainscott discussed the mission of the secret shoppers.

Over the last few months, a group of 20 secret shoppers stopped by Barbourville to rate the town based on a set of criteria, including residential areas, healthcare, arts and culture, public infrastructure and much more. The results were then compiled into a Community Assessment Report and presented to Barbourville.

Some of the things shoppers liked about Barbourville include the small shops and restaurants located in town, Union College and the art presence. Areas identified as needing work include business awnings, landscaping and signage.

Overall, the shoppers seemed impressed with Barbourville.

“Downtown is attractive, walkable, and I felt comfortable exploring the community. Everyone was so willing and eager to help us. They really made us feel like we were wanted in the community,” wrote one shopper.

Other shoppers agreed that Barbourville might be visually attractive, but the citizens are either non-participants or negative about the community.

“I didn’t get a sense that people were proud to be from Barbourville. I was told there’s ‘nothing to do here’ and wonder what it would take for citizens to have a sense of pride in their town?” questioned another shopper.

The experience left Barbourville with three key items to focus on:

Identify ways to engage local citizens.

Develop alleyways and walkways downtown.

Celebrate the Cumberland.

Wainscott reported to Tourism that this feedback definitely gave everyone in the community, citizens and officials alike, something to think about and some goals to work toward.

“If you look through there, there’s really a lot of good suggestions and things we need to do,” said Wainscott. “I’ll contact the Chamber and Downtown Revitalization group and we really do need to go through this and try to set some goals.”