I’d like to tell you a story about “My Friend”. My friend is a senior enrolled at UNC-Wilmington, and though he is very low on funds, he really wanted to enjoy his final spring break. After some consideration, he decided to make the short drive to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with his girlfriend where they could live it up like true college students. After my friend returned from his 4 day trip he took a few moments to relive his getaway and came to an abrupt realization. When he was in Myrtle Beach, his schedule consisted of very few things that couldn’t have been done right here in Wilmington. He got up at the break of noon, spent the afternoons lounging on the beach, the evenings relaxing at the local eatery and the nights chilling at the local pub. So if all of these things could have been accomplished in Wilmington, why didn’t my friend just stay in Wilmington? More importantly, why don’t other college students from all around flock to Wilmington to celebrate their time off?
After some consideration and a little observation, I think I have discovered the answers to these questions: college students don’t come party in Wilmington because Wilmington doesn’t want them to come party here. Wilmington, and more specifically Wrightsville Beach, consists of well-developed (expensive) beach houses and family friendly entertainment offerings. If flocks of college students flocked here every spring then Wilmington could potentially become a less desirable location to bring your family or spend your retirement. It almost comes to a point where a city that is blessed with the kinds of attributes that make it a destination must choose what segment of the population they want to be a destination for. Though the marketing of geographic locations is often not as aggressive as that of traditional businesses, it can be an important decision in the life of a city.