The opening of Anthro in downtown Asheville will close a saga for the Urban Outfitters-owned brand that began two years ago in Asheville. Anthropologie reps participated in extended negotiations with the landlord of the S&W Cafeteria building along Patton Avenue, but those talks ended up falling apart.
Earlier this year, Anthropologie landed on Lexington Avenue, which is one of Asheville’s most unique avenues. It’s full of local, independently owned shops, restaurants and bars. It’s opening rekindled a debate about chain stores in downtown, a debate that began five years ago when Urban Outfitters opened at the corner of Haywood and College streets. That opening triggered the creation of the Asheville Grown Business Alliance, the successful “buy local” movement here.
A subcommittee of a city advisory board is studying ways to limit chains locating in downtown following the Anthropologie news. Tuesday’s election of three newcomers to Asheville City Council has also been partially tied to discontent over the way the city is growing, as big hotels and national chains move in.