Love Where You Live: The Story Behind “Beaches of Brunswick County”
Toby Bronstein lived in Boston for 28 years – or “28 winters” as she likes to say. She owned a busy advertising business and traveled all across the country, always with an eye towards where she’d like to eventually relocate when she retired. When Bronstein stumbled upon Brunswick County, she knew right away she’d found the perfect place.
“It just sang to me,” she says.
In 2007, Bronstein closed down her business, packed her bags, and moved down south, taking up residence in the “very special” Caswell Beach. “I love it as much today as when I moved here,” she says.
It was Bronstein’s passion for the place she’s now called home for nearly a decade that inspired her to create the resource so many now know and love called, “Beaches of Brunswick County.”
“I wanted to celebrate where I live, show my gratitude for the beauty that is to be found everywhere here… On a lark I thought, why don’t I just start a Facebook page?”
So, in November 2012, Bronstein launched the “Beaches of Brunswick County” Facebook page, where she began finding and sharing photographs of her beloved home – “Bald Head Island, Caswell Beach, Oak Island, Holden Beach, Ocean Isle, Sunset Beach and everything in between!” she writes on her site.
“Beaches, inland lakes, rivers and streams … back roads and quaint little towns.” Bronstein covers it all. Visitors are invited to post their own photos, too, displayed in the Community section.
In addition to beautiful photos and artwork depicting the area, the page also offers information about local events, serving as a great community resource and spot for people to connect.
“I don’t know what my expectations were,” Bronstein says of her venture. “I don’t really know that I had any, it was just something that I wanted to do, I wanted to share this wonderful place that I’m lucky enough to call home. I thought maybe people will be interested in and will want to contribute, want to participate. I never imagined that it would explode the way it did.”
Bronstein recalls how thrilled she was four-and-a-half years ago when the page acquired its first 100 fans. Today, she has more than 24,000 fans, and Bronstein would be delighted to reach 25K.
“It’s amazing, so gratifying, that this page has been embraced the way it has been,” she says.
For Bronstein, running this page has truly been a labor of love. In addition to finding and posting photos and artwork every day, she is also always searching for quotes, articles, and “chuckles” to share with her eager fans.
“It’s very time intensive,” she says. Bronstein is grateful for the help she receives from her friend, Cathy St. George Johnstone, of Southport, who calls herself, “the babysitter.” Johnstone graciously steps in and maintains the page when Bronstein needs some time away. “She does a beautiful job.”
While Bronstein does not make money from the page (not yet at least), her enjoyment of the work and the positive response from her fans makes it worthwhile.
“People really value the page for a whole host of reasons … It’s been amazing, some of the stories – the way this page touches their heart, brings back memories for them, or they may live here and discover places in Brunswick County that they never knew about.”
Bronstein also values the relationships she’s formed with local photographers and artists whose work she features. In fact, she says that one of the best parts about hosting the page is, “supporting the local artists and really giving them the visibility and the exposure they so deserve… The talent is unbelievable.”
As for where she’d like to see the page go from here, Bronstein hopes that her fan base will continue to grow, and she plans to promote the “Beaches of Brunswick County” T-shirts now being sold on the site, designed by Susan Yerry. “I absolutely love her design,” says Bronstein.
She adds that her best marketing tool is the people who follow the page and share its content.
“I’m very thankful for the fans,” she says.
And one look at the “Reviews” section will tell you the feeling is mutual. Over 150 people have taken the time to rate the site (highly), sing its praises, and reminisce about the precious time they’ve spent by the sea in Brunswick County.
Visit Beaches of Brunswick County on Facebook. www.facebook.com/brunswickbeaches