Imagine that you’ve spent a lot of time living in your old town and have decided to move somewhere new, somewhere fresh. You hear about a city called Greenville in South Carolina and decide to check it out. You pull into town, get out of your car, take a fresh breath of air, and … now what?
Where do you start?
Well, Mike Cruice is the man who has made getting to know Greenville his business.
Cruice is the founder of Make Greenville Yours, a company that offers tours of the city and its surrounding areas to potential residents looking to relocate. Cruice provides the inside look into Greenville and what makes it tick.
Cruice is a part-time pastor at Hampton Park Baptist Church, located on State Park Road, and a member of the Greenville Historical Society. He knows many city leaders and business owners, and just about everything to do with Greenville – its past, present, and future.
But Cruice is not a Greenville native.
Coming to Greenville
In 1986, Cruice moved to Greenville from Philadelphia with his wife and four children to attend seminary at Bob Jones University.
“When we moved here, Greenville was nothing to take note of,” Cruice said. But he felt called to stay in Greenville and grew to love it.
Cruice then became a pastor at Hampton Park Baptist Church. He served with the church full time until 2014 when he developed heart problems and was diagnosed with cancer.
“My wife, who is a nurse, said I needed to step down from ministry or else it would take me out,” Cruice said. “But you can take me outta ministry, but you can’t take ministry outta me.”
Cruice ended up working part time with his church, but he still craved connecting with people. He would hang out around downtown Greenville just to be surrounded by constant interaction.
“So, I would go down to Sully’s Steamers, where I had connected with the owner there,” Cruice said.
One day, while in Sully’s, Cruice witnessed an interaction between a couple and the cashier. Cruice said the couple asked the cashier about Greenville and wanted to know where they could find information on the city. The cashier didn’t know what to tell them. As the couple was walking out, Cruice saw an opportunity and stopped them, offering his services.
Cruice ended up taking them on a tour of Greenville and its surrounding areas such as Greer and Taylors. Cruice said the couple absolutely loved the tour — and Greenville itself.
From then on, Cruice knew he had a calling. With help from his daughter, Bonnie Cruice, he launched his new business of showing people the potential of moving to Greenville
“Bonnie’s the one that stirred me on to start the business,” Cruice said. He had told her about encounters with people who came to Greenville and wished they had known more about the area prior to moving so they could have picked a better location. “And when I gave that first informal tour, that confirmed what I had already observed,” Cruice added.
Make Greenville Yours offers two types of tours. The first one, the Get Acquainted Tour, is a one-hour, 30-minute walking and driving tour of downtown Greenville. The second one, the Get Moving Tour, is a three-hour tour of downtown Greenville and the surrounding areas of Mauldin, Simpsonville, Greer, Taylors, and Travelers Rest.
“I’ve given around 200 tours over the last two years,” Cruice said.
On both tours, Cruice focuses on two major aspects of Greenville: its natural beauty and its businesses. “My tour’s an overview,” he said. “I give [potential residents] a flavor for different aspects of the city. If you just take a walk around downtown, you don’t get an appreciation for the city.”
First, Cruice takes people to Falls Park. As a member of the Greenville Historical Society, he’s full of information on the history of Greenville — and he shows it, as he flawlessly recounts how Falls Park went from being hidden away to one of Greenville’s most recognizable landmarks. Cruice said he feels the park is the most significant part of Greenville and the reason why the city has earned its numerous accolades and stellar reputation over the years.
From there, Cruice will drive his clients around Greenville, showing them other famous monuments, such as the airplane memorial in Cleveland Park dedicated to Air Force Major Rudolph Anderson Jr., the only American casualty of the Cuban missile crisis; the Vietnam War memorial; and numerous shuttered textile mills.
While driving, Cruice will point out various locations, explaining what the city has planned for them. He gathers most of this knowledge through the relationships he’s gradually built with city leaders, such as mayors, business owners, and real estate agents. “I would tell them, ‘Help me put your best foot forward,’” Cruice said. Those connections have helped maximize the tour experience for clients.
Paying It Forward
Ultimately, Cruice hopes that by sharing his love for Greenville, others will fall for the city, too, and choose to call it home. “It has big-city amenities while also having that small-city feel,” he said.
For Cruice, giving tours is just another part of his vocation to serve others. “In ministry, I’m interested in trying to help people,” he said. “And at the end of every tour, I tell them they’re welcome to call me, email me, [or] text me, if there’s any way I can help them.”
For more information, visit makegreenvilleyours.com.
Make Greenville Yours
Founder: Mike Cruice
Service: Provides tours of the city of Greenville and/or its surrounding areas to potential residents looking to relocate
Market: Tourism, residential
Offerings: Get Moving Tour (a three-hour tour of downtown Greenville and five surrounding areas), $50/person; Get Acquainted Tour (a 1-hour, 30-minute driving and walking tour of downtown Greenville), $25/person. Customized tours are priced based on request.
ROBERT HULL | EDITORIAL INTERN