Senoia’s ‘Idea House’ seen as good for local businesses

The halls are decked and so is the rest of the house. The Southern Living magazine 2010 Idea House in Senoia is all decked out for the holiday season and, since June, has seen more than 20,000 visitors tour the four-story brownstone. And many of those visitors have spent time in Senoia, bringing with them a significant impact on local business. Photo/Ben Nelms.

The Southern Living Magazine 2010 Idea House opened in Senoia on June 12. Since that time more than 20,000 people have toured the unique four-story, 5,000 square-foot brownstone. And the tide of people visiting the city during the past five months have made a significant impact on Senoia’s businesses.

Senoia Downtown Development Authority’s Suzanna Helfman said the impact to the community brought by the Idea House has been felt both by local businesses and by the community at-large.

“The businesses in Senoia have had dramatic increases in sales since the Idea House opened and with visitors expressing their desire to return, we expect that trend to continue,” Helfman said. “The Idea House has exposed the town of Senoia to the 16 million subscribers of Southern Living. Many of the visitors to the house live within a two hour drive of Senoia. We have had many comments from people who have never been to Senoia and have fallen in love with the town. Invariably, they say they are coming back with friends and family.”

A survey of Senoia businesses indicates that the Idea House has made a definite contribution to the local economy.

Denise Minear at Twist on Main and Wendy Maguire from Maguire’s Family & Friends said both their business had benefitted from visitors coming to see the Idea House.

Just across Main Street on Seavy Street, Beyond the Door owner Ann Busey said the Idea House has been tremendous for her business, especially in the summer months when her business showed a 200 percent increase over the same time last year.

And as for the five-month period since the Idea House opened, Busey said, “Right now I’m at where I was for all of last year. It’s been fabulous. And even if our visitors don’t make a purchase they still get to see the town.”

Down Main Street near the Gin Property development, Senoia Coffee & Cafe owner Suzanne Pengelly also cited an increase in business. It’s made an impact for a majority of Main Street businesses, Pengelly said.

For Southern Living, the choice of its first brownstone as an Idea House was a good match with Senoia. One of five, four-story luxury brownstones in the new 75 residential unit project, the Idea House features a courtyard, plunge pool and grilling pavilion. As with each of the other four brownstones located on the Gin Property near downtown, it is outfitted with a rooftop terrace and an elevator. The remaining brownstones will average approximately 3,700 square feet.

The Idea House will remain open through mid-December. The Southern Living 2010 Idea House is located on the Gin Property, just across the railroad tracks immediately south of downtown businesses. The Idea House is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 1-5 p.m. The cost of admission is $10 for adults and no charge for children under age 12.

Proceeds from the tours will be donated to the Fayette/Coweta chapter of the American Cancer Society through the Cattle Baron’s Ball fundraiser.