The Downtown Market is open for business.
Asheville is a tourist town, but tourists only stay for a minute. The rest of us good, hard-working folks need to buy stuff and in a tourist economy, goods are typically priced with out-of-town sales in mind. Our market is for locals, run by locals with our local economy in mind. We didn’t locate it in a tourist path and we didn’t try to make it something it wasn’t. We tried and succeeded to survive in a challenging economy and participated in keeping a community resource from going dark. This could only be done in such a large building by having a diversification of goods.
Now the building is bought, not by out-of-town interests with no ties to the community but by long-time transplanted locals planning on staying in and investing in Asheville, as we all hoped it would. It’s on the way to renovation and upgrades into which a renewed life is breathed. T
his inevitable improvement effort comes with new challenges brought on by construction costs and the attendant shift in atmosphere and goods. This means increased rents and increased costs but it also means a more pleasant shopping atmosphere, a new variety of goods and services, better parking, and a safer, cleaner experience. The building is very large and demands creative usage which brings its inexorable changes. The new owners have done their best to weigh their investment against the needs of the community, their own vision, and the requirements of city government.
In so doing, there are inescapable shifts that must occur as driven by space requirements, tenant finances, etc. Changes will happen, or as some have said, “Shift Happens.” We will truly miss our friends and neighbors at Hi-fi Café as they have been a major contributor to what has made this building not just a place of business but a valuable part of our community.
What will continue to be true at the Downtown Market as it grows and shifts is that people are paramount and stuff to buy is secondary. The market at 45 S. French Broad will soon house Lions and Lambs Salon, Little Bee Thai Restaurant, and an expanded Hopey and Co. Grocery, and as from the very beginning, The Downtown Market, a bazaar with over 75 individual local entrepreneurs with the coolest, most reasonably priced stuff in town. We are here for the long run because we have been able to turn on a dime and redefine ourselves in short order to give locals what they want. We will continue to be a place where everyone is welcome and is a part of our amazing and diverse neighborhood.
Lance Hardcastle and Susie Watson