There are many who are thankful to Stephenie Meyer for writing “Twilight” and its subsequent sequels. Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, for sure, who were catapulted into (almost) instant fame once they were cast in the roles of Edward and Bella. Summit Entertainment, most definitely, as the fledgling studio had their first blockbuster success last November with “Twilight.” Plus talent like Catherine Hardwicke and Peter Facinelli became household names. But none have been so affected as the town of Forks, Wash.
Just how much does the town of Forks appreciate what Stephenie Meyer has done? Enough to give her her own holiday, apparently. "That’s why we have on September 13 Stephenie Meyer Day — to honor Stephenie Meyer,” said Mike Gurling, the visitor center manager at the Forks Chamber of Commerce.
Forks, like many other towns on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, have been experiencing a state of depression over the past decade with the decline of the logging industry, Gurling told Hollywood Crush in a interview. He said other towns in the surrounding area are facing serious economic issues because they are not making the money from timber sales they need to be making. Gurling said Forks would have found itself in a similar situation if it wasn’t for the release of "Twilight."
Fans have been flooding into Forks to see the real life version of Bella’s hometown since the series boomed in popularity back in 2007 after the debut of Meyer's third book in the saga, "Eclipse." Though "Twilight" was released all the way back in 2005, Gurling said it wasn’t until 2008 that the influx of visitors really hit — and it’s only been increasing. In June of 2008, 1,731 people signed the visitors log at the Chamber of Commerce. Last month, 8,312 visitors signed the log. That’s almost five times as many people, and Gurling assured us the number of visitors was the norm and unrelated to last month’s Forks Summer School.
The mass amounts of tourism have raised local businesses to economic success. In addition to every store carrying some variation of “Twilight” merchandise — and a few newly opened shops (like Dazzled By Twilight, pictured above) that sell nothing but — local restaurants and lodging have seen a boom in revenues and even saved some, like the Forks Coffee Shop, from financial disaster.
"If it wasn’t for 'Twilight,' the Forks Coffee Shop would have closed," Gurling said.
In fact, it is so busy now at the Forks Coffee Shop that when we called the manager to ask her some questions, she said they were too inundated with customers to speak with us at that time.
With all the tourists flocking to Forks, Gurling told me the majority of lodging areas in and around Forks are booked full straight through the end of the summer. The vast amount of business has contributed to a 7 percent hotel/motel tax increase over the past year, whereas other towns around the area actually saw a decrease, he said.
While he didn’t have the numbers for the town itself, Gurling told me the change in monetary income at the Chamber of Commerce was an accurate representation for the change Forks has seen.
“[A few years ago we] didn’t have a credit card terminal or cash register, sales were so low,” he said. “Now we sell a variety of shirts and sweatshirts related to 'Twilight.' … Our sales are up over probably 1000 percent over the past couple of years.”
In an area surrounded by economic decline, “Twilight” has lifted Forks above the deteriorating lumber industry and set it on a path to economic success — and it’s all thanks to Stephenie Meyer and her dream of a girl and a vampire. "She has had a major impact on the economy of the town and the popularity of the town," Gurling said. "People are coming to the town of Forks and the Olympic Peninsula that wouldn’t have been there before."
As to whether the real Forks is anything like the Forks Stephenie Meyer portrays, Gurling just laughed. “The one thing that people are really disappointed about is when it’s nice weather and they come here expecting it to be rainy and it’s not,” he said. Well, at least it explains why they never see any vampires out during the day.
Press play below to hear more about how the town of Forks has transformed thanks to a family of blood-suckers.
Are you surprised at what an economic boom "Twilight" has brought to Forks? Why or why not?