My mom is from Cass West Virginia. Never heard of it? Then you're probably not a big fan of old time railroads! Until about 60 years ago Cass was a focal point for bringing lumber down off the mountains to be processed at the local saw mill. My grandfather worked there, and while the mill is long gone (mostly) due a closing and then a later fire, my mom can still point out at the top of one of the ruined building where my grandfather used to work.
Once the sawmill was closed Cass could have just shrunk and become one of the ghost towns you can find scattered around the area with nothing left but foundations and some old heavy equipment steel.
But fortunately for the local residents, that wasn't the town's fate. Instead, the future was as a Cass Scenic Railroad State Park and scenic railroad (read more at the link for the history). Three years after the mill closed, the first tourist train made a run up the mountain to an old logging camp. Since that time there have been some changes, but some things are the same. The old style Shay and Heisler locomotives that were used to carry logs up and down mountains now carry tourists up and down the mountain.
For me, there's all kind of nostalgia tied to hearing the engineers blow the steam whistles as the make their way around the countryside (yes, even engineers can be sentimental!)!
Cass found its new place in the modern world by dipping into the niche of an older world. They hold special events during summer and fall that bring in tourists by the hundreds.
You could argue that Cass HAD a niche before, but it was a niche that competed with other niche producers. As old growth timber declined, the demand for their product declined, and thus the end of that niche.
In real estate, if you're going to work a niche, ideally you select a niche that will sustain itself throughout your real estate career. You need to monitor your niche and watch for signs that the niche is falling out of favor (short sale demands ebb and flow, will the younger generations still play golf and want those golf course McMansions? etc.).
But if you find the right niche and get the word out, it's just like the Field of Dreams and Cass Scenic Railroad, build it and they will come!
Until next Tuesday, just Ask An Ambassador,
Bill & Liz aka BLiz