Tonia Stephenson Chamber Chat
May 13, 2014
Last Friday morning, David (my husband) and I stopped at Bojangles’ to have breakfast before beginning to set up for our Murphy Brown Laurinburg After Five. As we sat there, one of those large tour buses pulled into the parking lot and the restaurant became abuzz as all of us wondered who they were and what they were doing here.
As a bus full of young people began unloading and they walked in the door, I became giddy with excitement. Most people don’t get excited to see a bus unload at a restaurant where they are eating, but all I could think was what a great thing it was for our community to have these visitors. When people travel up and down our highways, whether it is U.S. 74, U.S. 401 or U.S. 501, they have choices of where they can stop and spend their money, but they choose to stop in Laurinburg. What a blessing these people are for Laurinburg and Scotland County.
It wasn’t long before there were so many young people in line you couldn’t get to the hallway for the bathrooms, nor could you get to the door going out, which again, made me giddy with excitement. It may be an inconvenience for some to not be able to move around like they would like, or they may get aggravated from the noise level, which did get pretty loud. Others were probably impatient as they had to wait longer in line to get their breakfast. However, I just beamed with pride for our community being the host for these folks. I am very grateful for their driver or leader who chose Laurinburg’s Bojangles’ on that day for their stop.
When I announced my move from High Point to Laurinburg, I was amazed the number of people who said Laurinburg is their stop when traveling to the beach. Just recently, I attended a meeting in Raleigh where I saw a state senator who I knew from the Triad and he again reminded me that Smithfield’s was his stop on his way to the beach and Nic’s Pik Kwik was his gas stop. I thanked him for that and asked him to tell all of his friends coming this way to please choose Laurinburg as their stopping place. It is a huge benefit for our community.
We are beginning our busy time when we have a lot of travelers who will be riding through our community, hopefully stopping to buy their gas and eating at one of our establishments. I hope you will always welcome these people with open arms. When you see a visitor, try to stop and say hello, give them a warm Scotland County smile and show them how much we appreciate them coming to our county. So many times I hear complaints about how busy we get when the beach traffic begins and what an inconvenience it is for our county. I would hope, however, people would stop and be thankful for that traffic and the resources they bring to our county. Again, just like sitting in Bojangles’ that morning, I get giddy with excitement to welcome our visitors.
Tonia Stephenson is president of the Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce.