Post by: Nancy Moseley
“Fitting Inn on Main Street”
Sometimes I think it must be a little daunting for a new business to come into such a tightly woven community where favorite staples line Main Street and the sight of new construction tends to provoke a “Now what?” reaction. Sometimes I think it must be a little daunting to be the “new guy” in town.
Though Main Street Inn isn’t exactly all that new. Owners “Rip” & Darlene McGinnis opened the doors of the boutique hotel in November of 2008 in true Hokie fashion, on a busy Virginia Tech football weekend – which is one way to win over a college town.
The “McGinnises ” also started off on the right foot in naming the hotel, assuring Blacksburg they wanted to seamlessly fold into the community and give something back to the town they love. When I sat down with current General Manager, Rei Allen, I asked more about the inception of the business.
“There was an opportunity to add something that didn’t exist yet, to fill a hole in downtown Blacksburg. But it was also important that we complemented and respected the existing businesses, not compete with them.“
For this reason there is no bar or restaurant on the premises, the Inn concentrates solely on providing the very best service in lodging alone. Guests are encouraged to leave the hotel to enjoy the rest – the dining, the countryside, the events or the university. The front-desk concierge helps visitors take advantage of everything the New River Valley has to offer. Backstreet’s Pizza, right next door, for example, started offering breakfast simply as a way to serve overnighting patrons.
The Inn’s neighborly business strategy helps recirculate local foot traffic and makes it easy for people to embrace the larger community. It’s a hometown win-win.
Enjoy open-floor- plan, suite-style accommodations , each with a separate living room that features a wet bar, microwave, refrigerator and sleeper sofa. Additionally, there are two non-suited rooms with two full-sized beds that meet current ADA standards. Main Street Inn offers complimentary wi-fi and parking . A sizable, warmly decorated lobby is an attractive epicenter for all your comings and goings.
Occupancy remains steady throughout the year, with expected upswings during key Virginia Tech events like game weekends, graduation and new student orientation. Mondays through Thursdays keep busy with business travelers, visiting professors and corporate partners, while weekends peak with social functions like weddings, holidays and reunions.
Allen admits, “People come here for a purpose and the convenience of walking out and being right in the middle of things gives them a little something extra, a genuine and accurate feel for the area.”
The Inn has been known to provide overnight R&R accommodations for Appalachian Trail thru-hikers and boasts notable past guests like David Morse, Julia Styles, Ben Folds Five and Governor Mark Warner.
Allen, who graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in Hospitality and Tourism, spent 10 years in Chicago before returning to Blacksburg with her husband, a microbiology professor. She laughs that the biggest challenge of working at the hotel is also her favorite part.
“There isn’t the support of a huge corporation here. It’s just us. So one minute I could be fixing a broken printer, the next I’m planting flowers out front or meeting with industry execs. But that’s also what I love about it. There’s always something different to do.”
There is art to building valuable relationships with people when you are given such a short amount of time with them and the staff at Main Street Inn has perfected it. Their priority is to provide such a well rounded, good experience that those relationships will naturally turn into something longer term.
“We are ambassadors of downtown Blacksburg. We ask, ‘How long are you here and what do you want to do?’ We help the town and the people who live here put their best foot forward.”
Perhaps becoming one of Main Street’s new favorite staples isn’t too far away for the namesake hotel after all.