New visitor's center opens in MaggieChamber moves to town hall
MAGGIE VALLEY — After a few weeks in limbo, Maggie Valley has a visitor’s center once more — and for the first time ever, it’s not sharing a roof with the town’s chamber of commerce.
On Saturday, a visitor’s center run by the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority opened its doors at 2961 Soco Road, more widely known as that log cabin across the street from Wheels Through Time. Meanwhile, Chamber Director Teresa Smith continued to move into her temporary office at Maggie Valley Town Hall.
While separate, the two entities remain intertwined, as Smith plans to still give out visitor information from her office and will still run maggievalley.org, which is chock-full of area information.
Calls about visitor information, at 926-1686 or (800) 624-4431, are being routed to Smith, too. People can stop by the TDA visitor’s center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday (with possibly expanded hours in October) and at Smith's office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The TDA visitor’s center doesn’t yet have phone service.
Though the TDA was set to take over the visitor’s center in January, things were moved up considerably due to needed repairs at the old visitor’s center/chamber office at 2511 Soco Road. In the interim, people were prompted to head over to Maggie Mountaineer Crafts for visitor information or give Smith a call on her cell phone. Smith sounds happy those rootless days are over.
“I’ve got all the stuff I need to work out of this office right now,” she said on Tuesday, as she continued to transition into her new space.
While she believes that phone and web traffic should be about the same in this new set up, there is one major change she’ll have to get used to: not sharing her office with Andrew Jackson. Andrew, her King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, accompanied her to work every day in the old space — and became a little celebrity with many of the visitors.
“They loved it,” Smith said, explaining that many people would come in just to see the little guy.
As long as Smith stays at town hall, however, Andrew will be staying home.
“That’s something he’s going to have to get used to — and me, too,” Smith said, laughing a little.
Luckily for Andrew, however, Smith sees this set up as temporary — both for her and the visitor’s center. Though she believes the two offices might be housed together again at some point, she wouldn't guess what the future holds.
“We just have to see what transpires,” she said.
Lynn Collins, executive director of the TDA, sounded just as unsure about possible plans for the visitor’s center.
“I don’t have any idea at this point,” she replied when asked if the two offices might share a space again someday.
She did say, however, that the visitor's center does have the option of staying permanently in its new location, which was actually its old location years ago.
But that’s a decision for another day. For now, it’s “business as usual” at the center’s new site, she said, adding that traffic has been “pretty good” so far.
For now, the center is being staffed by a rotation of TDA employees, but in the future Collins hopes to add some of the center’s former employees and volunteers into the mix. But again, those changes might be a little farther down the road. While there’s plenty of fine-tuning ahead, Collins is pleased to have things as settled as they can be — at least for now.
“I’m just happy to have gotten to doors open at this point,” she said, sounding relieved.