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Paducah brushing up for tourists

PADUCAH — Susan Edwards is taking a different tack toward bringing in tourists.

Edwards, a former corporate marketer, runs Wildhair Studios in downtown Paducah. She has recently reinvented her business by allowing tourists to come in and create art, instead of simply buying sundries, souvenirs, T-shirts or jewelry.

"The ultimate goal is to minimize the impact of this retail downturn," Edwards said. "So many of us when we were 5, 6 or 7 loved to color, and around 7 or 8, someone convinced us that we weren't artists. My goal is to find that 5-year-old in everyone."

The change is part of the Paducah-McCracken County Convention and Visitors Bureau's latest marketing campaign — creative tourism, The Paducah Sun reported.

The concept calls for visitors to take art classes or workshops during their leisure time rather than simply strolling through a gallery to purchase art.

Rosemarie Steele, marketing director of the Paducah bureau, got the idea for creative tourism at a conference in Santa Fe, N.M. Paducah's artists are poised to take part in the movement because many of them already offer classes and workshops at their galleries, Steele said.

Edwards began offering "Brushstrokes and Beverages" classes last year and immediately drew a following.

Early success brought the inspiration for a change, Edwards said. She transformed her business into one that offers people an artistic experience, whether through classes or the ability to watch her paint commissioned pieces in the studio.