Erin Napier still can’t believe where life has taken her. Yes, her HGTV show, Home Town, has been a hit on the network for a while, but she still can’t believe it when she and her husband, Ben, walk the streets of New York and someone stops them on the street to say they love their show. Or, when they’re trying to play it cool as they wait backstage to meet five-time Grammy winner Chris Stapleton and his wife, Morgane, only to have Morgane’s parents lose their chill at the opportunity to meet them.
“I was so excited to meet her parents, because they’ve raised such an incredible, inspiring person, and here they were, Home Town fans,” Erin gushes. “It feels impossible sometimes that people even know about us. It amazes me when people from all corners of the U.S. have heard about us and connect with the show in some way.”
That’s the thing: For all the notoriety their show’s gaining — and the attention it’s bringing their hometown of Laurel, MS, and store, Laurel Mercantile Co. — the stars’ day-to-day lives haven’t changed too much. Yes, they film for half the year, but as we talk over the phone, Erin sounds like a friend I haven’t heard from in a while; not a TV star. She’s cradling her five-month-old daughter, Helen, as we chat, raving about the best new baby products and the summer tradition she can’t wait to introduce her little girl to: Laurel’s July 3rd celebration.
“There’s a citywide fireworks show in downtown Laurel, and everybody comes out and brings their lawn chairs,” she says. “There are food trucks and hot dog stands, and it’s like something out of a movie. It’s the most idyllic, incredible night.”
Ben and Erin will pack up a few canvas tote bags, putting Helen in her Safety 1st Riva Travel Stroller — which, I soon learned, has been a lifesaver for their on-the-go lives as new parents — and head out to catch the display.
For the Napiers, July 3rd is the main event, and Independence Day tends to be a little more low-key. “We’ll probably go out to my parents’ house, where my dad will smoke ribs, we might cut up a watermelon, make some ice cream, and go swimming, if it all comes together,” Erin says.
At that moment, I’m tempted to hop on a plane and invite myself over. Then I remember we’ve never, you know, actually met. Guess that’s the Home Town effect — when you’re in Ben and Erin’s world, you’re always at home. Even if you’re 1,100 miles away.
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