The first season of Home Town Takeover wrapped on June 6, and Wetumpka, Alabama is already seeing the rewards of being featured on the new HGTV series. In the six-episode limited series, Home Town stars Erin Napier and Ben Napier left their Laurel, Mississippi home to bring their renovation skills to the Alabama city, located just north of Montgomery. Residents and officials have reported an increase in interest in their city.
"It has been a much larger increase in crowds and we've loved having all the people that want to see what going on here," resident Marilee Tankersly told WSFA earlier this week. Mayor Jerry Willis said the show highlighted the sense of community in the city, as everyone put their best foot forward on the show. "It was like the employees of this city, the citizens of this city, came together jointly, all of us working for one cause," he said.
The series also boosted tourism to the city during the pandemic. One Iowa visitor, Amanda Brooks, told WSFA she was so impressed she might even move there. "Coming together as one. that's what I grew up with myself living in Sioux City and so I want to come back to that," she said. Joyce Holley, who visited from Maryland, said visiting Wetumpka left her "excited" about participating in revitalizing a small town and "move from a big city and slow it down and have community living."
Each Takeover episode focused on a different part of the Napiers' revitalization project. The finale focused on the new farmers' market, while other episodes focused on restaurants, shops, homes, and a downtown street. Residents hope the momentum continues, even with the show over. "I hope this spark of excitement, especially for the downtown area, keeps going and it just booms," resident Vicki Mullino told Alabama News Network.
When the Napiers spoke with PopCulture in April, they said changing perceptions of small towns was one of the goals for Home Town Takeover. "So many people want to do what has happened in Laurel in their town, and they're coming to us and asking us for advice and so we felt like this would be a good way to kind of say this can happen anywhere," Ben told us. "It doesn't have to be Laurel." Erin added that there are "universal truths in revitalizing small-town America" and they hoped to share it.
Based on the success of Home Town Takeover, their message is reaching far and wide. The show was a massive rating success, which will likely make HGTV think about sending the Napiers to other small towns. The show ranked as the top-rated unscripted cable series among people 25-54 and women 25-54. Episodes of the series were posted on the Discovery+ platform before airing on Sunday nights.
"Home Town Takeover was about something much bigger than ratings, which is only one measure of success," HGTV president Jane Latman said in a statement. "We also affirmed so much of what Ben and Erin Napier stand for, including the potential and resilience of small towns and a belief that committed neighbors, working together, can rebuild and improve their community. Today's booming Wetumpka, with its thriving shops, restaurants, farmers market, restored homes and ever-increasing tourism, is proof positive that we changed the lives of a lot of people forever."