New Smart Phone App Reinvents Old Town for Locals, Tourists


WINCHESTER, Va. - Old Town Winchester's new smart phone app is much more forward thinking than the city's beloved downtown name might suggest.

"As you know, Winchester has a lot of rich history, especially Civil War and architectural history. So you can actually take the app and go point by point [on a map], or just go on a full walking tour,” said Downtown Manager Jennifer Bell.

Along with do-it-yourself walking tours, the app has dining suggestions by price point, and a list of upcoming events.

"Everybody has smart phones these days,” said Winchester resident Lauren Holland. “[An app] would be an ideal way to find out when events are going on in our town,” Holland said.

Holland explained she sometimes only hears about Old Town events after they happen.

Her friend, Jarus Cox, echoes Holland’s frustrations. “Your friends tell you about an event that happened last night, and it was totally awesome, but you didn’t go because you didn’t have any way of finding out about it,” he said. “I live in Richmond, and there are constantly things coming up that I don’t know about. It’s good to see this here.”

While the app is designed to be used by both tourists and locals, not all Winchester residents feel the need to download it. "Because I’m a local, I’m pretty much up on what's going on down here,” said Martin Ferguson, a resident of Winchester. “But for our myriad guests and visitors that come to The Valley and make Winchester one of their stops, it would probably be a very good thing.”

The mobile app isn’t just for individuals. Local business can get in on the action too, thanks to a built-in promotional tool.

"We're expecting that we'll see restaurants putting in free appetizer specials, and all sorts of fun things that will change over time,” said Bell. “[Businesses] can just go on the app, and add [their promotions] themselves to make it really, really easy."

That's exactly what Michelle’s Wigs & More did, with a buy ten wigs, get one free promotion. Leslie Richardson, owner of one of the only wig shops around, said it's a way to promote their business, show off Old Town and reward their customers.

"What I have to offer brings customers anyway, but I would like to give something {back]," she said.

To help promote the app, Old Town is giving away free tote bags to the first 50 people that come in to the Visitor’s Center and download the app.

"It’s free!” reminded Bell. “Take a look! If it's not what you want, you can just delete it. But I think once people download it, they'll be really happy to have it."

When asked if Holland and Cox plan on downloading the app, their responses were enthusiastic, “Absolutely!”

The app is currently available for Android phones and will be available for iPhones in September.

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