Will a wave of national retail chains follow Anthropologie into downtown Asheville?


How will the planned opening of an Anthropologie retail store affect downtown Asheville? Will a wave of other chains follow? And does the move present an opportunity of West Asheville’s Haywood Road corridor to lay claim to the title of home to local independents?

I’ve been thinking about all these questions since breaking the Anthropologie news yesterday. I’ve gotten confirmation about the store opening today, as well as one detail: Anthropologie plans to be open by September 2014 in the S&W Cafeteria building on Patton Avenue.

First, a little more on Anthropologie. Here’s some of what the Greenville News wrote about Anthropologie when the company opened its store there back in March:

Each Anthropologie store is unique to its location.

Two weeks before a grand opening, a traveling team will descend on the store, turning it into an airy confection of clothing, accessories and home decor.

Inside the 5,000-square-foot Greenville space, one window holds a peach tree made from corrugated cardboard, peaches dipped in wool felt. The other, facing Piazza Bergamo, has a rusty red bike purchased from Shinola antiques store. Both displays are meant to reflect the city’s local flavor.

Anthropologie staples, including lounge wear, bedding and dinnerware, are featured, as are candles and soaps, furniture, decorative antiques and original artwork by Leslie Oschmann and French artist Pierre Malbec.

Hours will be 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday though Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Nearby retailers normally close earlier, but the hope is that later hours will tap into the after-dinner crowd, said store manager Hannah Diomataris.

The fact that Anthropologie will be open until 9 p.m. will, I think, will begin to change the feel of downtown. There will be more shoppers out and about later. There will also likely be other national retail chains that will follow Anthropologie’s lead. (Anthropologie is owned by the same company that owns Urban Outfitters, which has a three-year-old store on Haywood Street near the proposed location of the new Asheville Anthropologie.) One likely site for any new entrants into downtown Asheville would be the old Windsor Hotel at the corner of Broadway and Market/Walnut. The building has recently been renovated for three retail storefronts on the ground level, and condos above.

I also wonder what affect Anthropologie’s opening will have for positioning West Asheville as the true home of local independent shops. Haywood Road this year has seen an incredible wave of new business development, a wave that will only get stronger as two big developments get underway – the construction of New Belgium Brewing’s new East Coast brewery on Craven Street and the construction of a massive new residential/retail project at the corner of Clingman Avenue and Roberts Street. West Asheville could lay claim to the “local” mantle and promote itself as that destination.


Yeppers November 10, 2013 - 10:57 pm

Just published today in Salon magazine–a relevant article about history of Asheville downtown planning and development. Some interesting comments after it about activism AVL residents undertook to make downtown the way it is now, as opposed to chain-USA.


Vlad Emrick November 9, 2013 - 9:19 am

The hysterical overreaction by some people on this topic is just laughable. Do some of you realize that downtown Asheville has actually lost more national chain retail stores in the last couple of years than it’s gained? (I’m talking about the downtown core west of Charlotte St and south of 240.) Subway, Jersey Mikes, and CVS have all closed and only Jimmy Johns and Urban Outfitters have opened. Some of you make it sound like Walmart, Apple, and Macy’s are poised on the edge of downtown waiting to move in overnight while we’re sleeping.

Stop the hysteria.

Xpatriot November 7, 2013 - 4:01 pm
hauntedheadnc November 7, 2013 - 3:59 pm

I wonder if the people who hate chains also hate the locally-grown chains such as Papa’s and Beer, Chai Pani, and Tupelo Honey…

Or is it just different when we send our chains out into other towns?

James S. November 7, 2013 - 11:34 pm

I hate them a little bit less. Like maybe a 6 out of 10. It’s a proportionate hatred. Tupelo Honey is slowly becoming an Earthfare to me.

hauntedheadnc November 8, 2013 - 11:02 am

If you weren’t being facetious, I’d point out that chains in downtown, local or not, are nothing new. S&W was a chain. Kress was a chain, as was Woolworth’s. JC Penney, Belk, Sears, and Bon Marche were also all chains, and all of them were located downtown before sprawl became all the rage.

Basically, most of the bigger commercial buildings downtown were left to us by chain stores.

Yeppers November 8, 2013 - 1:11 pm

And many of our streets and schools are named after slavemasters who created many of the institutions here. What’s your point?

Just because it was that way before doesn’t make it ideal, besides the fact that we are now talking about multinational corporations and not just chain stores.

I don’t understand, would you actually prefer to erase downtown as it is and replace it with Applebee’s-town? It’s not as if it is a condemned location like many of the other streets being referenced in this discussion. Any sound thinker with economic sense about the assets of this town understands what disaster that would be for the area.

hauntedheadnc November 8, 2013 - 3:40 pm

Any sound thinker would also understand that in your final paragraph, you’re setting up a straw man argument that you want me to waste my time knocking down. Nobody has said anything remotely in favor of your nonsensical “logical conclusion” and you know it. However, in positing the threat of erasing “downtown as it is and replace it with Applebee’s-town” you only prove my point that you’re having an hysterical overreaction. National chains built downtown in the first place. A chain, in fact, built the building where Anthropologie wants to locate. Chains have always had a presence in downtown, and not only do they have a presence now, but some of our most beloved local downtown businesses have done so well here that they have expanded elsewhere and have become evil chains themselves.

That’s my point. Face facts: downtowns are the exclusive playground of nobody. They are fluid, dynamic business districts, and nobody – least of all you, or me – has some kind of “right” to keep things from changing just because we might like things as they are. That kind of reasoning is a bit too fuzzy for the business world, and that’s all Anthropologie’s decision is based on: business. In a business district, of all places. If you can even imagine… who would have ever expected that?

Vlad Emrick November 9, 2013 - 9:21 am

“A proportionate hatred”? Yes, it’s so awful when a local business becomes much loved and successful.

Get over yourself.

FDR November 7, 2013 - 11:24 am

Obviously there is a lot of money in and around downtown to support these so called chain stores year after year even without the tourist. Just like South Asheville, the businesses will follow the money trail and right now all signs point to downtown.
Trader Joe’s is a fine example.

Don’t worry we will never become a Gatlinburg but we will become something more like Boulder, CO.

Franzi November 7, 2013 - 11:17 am

Top ten list after top ten list Downtown Asheville is becoming more attractive to large and multinational corporations. This is not a surprise, as we see it happening in almost every growing city. Unlike some, Asheville does not have any ordinances or policies that deter this type of growth in our downtown, therefore we have made it virtually inevitable that they would seek a location here. Ultimately, it is up to the property owner and who they choose to rent to, and that choice is made quite easy when it comes in the form of a self-subsidizing large corporation and their ability to pay higher rents even in the face of potential revenue losses. One danger this poses is that when the growth of chain stores remains unchecked we stand to lose businesses, jobs and the essence of what makes Asheville unique, a rare and valuable economic asset.

Many downtown businesses collaborate as much or more than they compete this is the heart and soul you feel, this is what we stand to lose. Visit the River Arts District and West Asheville, experience the unique cultures developing in those areas & compare them with the mall, you’ll see what I mean. There are real economic impacts when we allow short-sighted public policy and consumer choices to dictate our growth. Locally, the proliferation of chain stores drives rents higher while siphoning money out of our economy. Locally owned, independent businesses circulate 3 times more money in the local economy than chains do. Three of the factors that contribute to this multiplier effect are:

– Local businesses have larger payrolls, employing their own ad writers, buyers, accountants, and other positions that chains centralize in a single headquarters.

– Locally owned businesses make more of their own purchases locally.

– More of the profits at locally owned businesses recirculate in the community.
and they contribute as much as four times more money (relative to their overall size) to local cultural programs and non-profits than chains.

The communities that protect and value their distinct character are more interesting places to live and visit than their homogenized counterparts. Skilled workers and entrepreneurs, drivers of job creation and resilient economies, are attracted by cities that foster creativity. Preserving the vitality of our downtown, arguably one of our region’s most valuable economic assets, ought to be a primary concern of our leaders. It takes time and effort to review objective information (i.e. not provided by the developer) on the potential cost and benefit of retail (or any) development. A comprehensive review will not only include how many jobs the development will create, but over time, how many jobs it will eliminate.

A formula business sells us a formula lifestyle like lifestyle centers create a formula and faux downtown. Many neighborhoods are adopting review policies and form based code that limit the number of formula stores in order to maintain the unique character. Retail is only one piece of the puzzle, as we’ve seen the exodus of manufacturing in the US and not only the loss of jobs, but of valuable knowledge and skills, we’re re-learning the value of self-reliant communities. Can we learn to nourish slow, steady but smart growth that takes both local and global impact into account?

smytty November 7, 2013 - 3:01 pm

Thanks, Franzi. Well said.

It isn’t beyond the pale to expect local leaders to craft a plan that does put strict limits on just exactly where chain restaurants and stores can set up shop. It has been done with success in many towns, and it is MUCH easier to set regulations on who can set out a shingle where, than it is to try and reclaim these places once they have ceded ground.

Vlad Emrick November 6, 2013 - 10:00 pm

For those decrying those scary national chains (and yes, we are talking about one store–not a shopping mall), just what exactly would you do? Ban them? Good luck with that.

Where do we start? Banks? Hotels? Tupelo Honey Cafe? Chai Pani? Doc Chey’s?

There’s only one solution–create an environment that encourages the business success of locally-owned stores by making downtown a place that people want to shop and spend money in.

Jacques November 6, 2013 - 10:56 pm

Yes – we actually could ban chains from downtown if we wanted. Many municipalities have/are experimenting with it to varying degrees. The simple solution here is those who are here currently get grandfathered in. No new chains. Now, it may not be the smartest move for business, it may not work at all, but the way we’re going now, downtown could get very homogenous, very quickly. I believe some version of restrictions are worth considering.

And you are right that the city needs to foster growth of the unique, independent businesses that make Asheville what it is. Could the city have made it public that an overpriced home goods and women’s clothing chain is looking to open downtown, and then been open to proposals from locals creating similar items to fill that space instead? I bet 90% of the items in Anthropologie already have a comparable, locally made version here.

As I’ve said, Anthropologie alone isn’t going to drastically alter downtown, it will even look great in that space, but a few more chains definitely could.

Yeppers November 7, 2013 - 9:43 am

Yes, there are communities that have adopted land-use rules that deter chain stores and actively encourage local ownership. Since we are not operating in a free market, but one that advantages large corporations with tax breaks and development subsidies, this might actually level the playing field.

At some point, the straw will come that will break the camel’s back. Our Downtown atmosphere and identity is a collective resource and source of enjoyment that we all share, and as much as people like to complain about aspects of it, it’s a big part of why many people are happy here as compared to many places. This is also a form of wealth, and capital, which we would do well to remember.

I don’t know enough abut corporate proliferation strategies to know, but I’m sure that when enough “groundbreaking” companies have seeded the area, many of the rest then consider it a safe bet to move in. None of us know when that point will come, so pretty much all opinions are speculation. If you are happy with the thought of downtown becoming GAP, Cookie Factory, Payless and Uno’s Pizzeria, then by all means welcome them in. But realize there is a reason why many corporate stores are called “category killers”–because they succeed in closing all their competition.

I would dearly miss our independent bookstores, coffee shops, clothing stores, smaller music venues, and family owned restaurants. Realize that many of them now are hanging on by a thread.

James S. November 7, 2013 - 10:10 am

I completely agree.

smytty November 7, 2013 - 11:54 am

It’s really a good concept. I mean, towns the size of Asheville will always have Walmarts, Chili’s, Best Buys, etc. The trick is to keep those stores on the periphery – out on I-26, on Tunnel Rd., down Patton Ave. – and to keep the downtown district more vibrant and unique.

luther blissett November 8, 2013 - 12:44 pm

“The simple solution here is those who are here currently get grandfathered in. No new chains.”

That’s a dumb solution. There are plenty of chains that don’t have a big presence in the region, have a pretty distinctive offering, have an eye on expanding, and whose stores are seen as a vote of confidence in a city. The nearest Anthropologie is in downtown Greenville (near that terrible chain outfit, Barley’s Taproom); the next nearest is in Knoxville.

Does it make sense to put a Starbucks or Gap downtown? Not really. But if Apple opened a retail store, with a creative use of a downtown space, I bet you’d be there like a shot.

If you want to come up with smart chain-zoning, then you look at where the nearest branches are, and whether the chain has a history of downtown retail and fitting into those downtowns.

Really? November 6, 2013 - 8:46 pm

Ruin Asheville? Really? Show me the high wages being paid to local shop workers.
Please! This town can do very well with a mixture of local and chain stores. Just how has King St. in Charleston negatively hurt that city?

FDR November 6, 2013 - 8:28 pm

Why is there so many stupid hipsters AKA haters on this subject. Don’t like it then leave. Also, you look like a fool wearing skinny jeans with your muffin top and size 12 sneakers. LOL

Any business is good for Asheville and employment. Competition will clear out the trust fund shops that are only open bankers hours. I hope everything will settle and Asheville will have plenty of jobs for everyone. Remember change is sometimes painful but worth waiting for.

Longtime Local November 6, 2013 - 10:02 pm

By that logic, we might as well have back to back Walmarts lining the streets. They seem to vanquish the competition pretty handily. And provide plenty of jobs! Why don’t you quit your job and work for Walmart and see how much you like it! Let’s all do!

Jacques November 6, 2013 - 10:38 pm

FDR – you’re not sounding so smart yourself with poor grammar and an obvious hatred for a very specific type of person. It doesn’t further the discussion at all, but to borrow from you; if you have such a problem with hipsters and trust funds and banker’s hours, you might want to think about moving elsewhere yourself.

“Any business” is not inherently good. I can think of a dozen businesses that I feel are not good for Asheville or I don’t want in my town. That is merely my opinion. Change is certainly inevitable and there will always be people who disagree with it, but the key is to be smart and purposeful about it.

AshevilleBlog November 6, 2013 - 6:20 pm

I’m not as concerned about it as some are. Like others have mentioned I think it will be good for the foot traffic. Anthropolgie and Urban Outfitters seem to fit really well in downtown, so I’m going to withhold judgement until there is reason to be concerned.

Yo November 6, 2013 - 6:12 pm

We get it Yeppers. You love local and capitalism is terrible. Everyone with an ounce of entrepreneurism should stay small and keep their margins razor thin as not to offend you. Dream small! Got it.

Longtime Local November 6, 2013 - 9:58 pm

I agree with Yeppers. I love local and I think capitalism is terrible. Not very controversial statements there.

It’s not dreaming small, it’s dreaming of a world where we aren’t inviting people into our living room to screw us over, steal stuff, and go home.

Smytty November 7, 2013 - 8:48 am

It’s this, in spades. Large retail chains – while they do provide a handful of low-paying jobs with little opportunity for advancement – suck the dollars out of the local economy. Asheville has so very little industry, that tourist dollars that come downtown and are NOT spent with local companies and are NOT reinvested into our local businesses are dollars that we cannot afford to not have.

Sure, in the small picture it’s great that there will be one less vacant storefront in a high visibility downtown location, but it does also indicate a greater trend which I find extremely troubling.
Referencing Charleston is one example of the end game scenario. Another is San Luis Obispo, California – a town of about the same size as Asheville, lots of tourists, relatively little industry. In 1993 after the earthquake, the quaint downtown with mom and pop shops, independent record stores, and cozy restaurants could not afford to rebuild. In their place, in dropped Abercrombie and Fitch, Victoria’s Secret, the Gap, Barnes and Noble…. and nearly overnight all the charm was gone.

In addition, one of the many reasons tourists are eager to come to Asheville, is that it does NOT feel like an airport mall. Do you think people from Atlanta, Charlotte, NYC are going to go out of their way to bring their families and money to Asheville when it’s a swath of stores they they have two miles from home?

I’m not convinced that the sky is falling here, and I don’t fault the owners of the S&W for leasing out to a corporate chain. I don’t really think that Anthropologie is going to send downtown into a tailspin of crappy stores all by itself. But, it is a big warning sign for all those who are concerned with keeping the character, personality, and charm of our downtown distract.

Sean November 7, 2013 - 3:52 pm

“…character, personality, and charm of our downtown distract.”

Freudian slip?

FDR November 6, 2013 - 3:38 pm

Remember folks, this town can’t survive on the locals. It will survive on the tourist money and employment any business will bring. So I guess the haters would rather have a hipster business model like those on Lexington Ave. or in West Asheville that are only open bankers hours until daddy’s money runs out. LOL Get over it, we need everything that employs people regardless of if it’s a chain or not. If you don’t like how Asheville is being molded, then move.

Jacques November 6, 2013 - 10:21 pm

That’s exactly my point–we have a thriving tourist economy because people want to experience something unique here. More chains downtown makes Asheville look like just like home for the folks visiting from Charlotte, Atlanta, and Charleston. My fear is tourist money could dry up if we are not careful in how we shape our city.

I don’t agree with this instance of Asheville being molded, but instead of taking your suggestion to move elsewhere, I will register my opinion on this internet message board and further the discourse. I will work to keep Asheville unique, and not simply accept the way things are going or that I have no interest or voice in the town I’ve lived in for 15 years.

Meg November 6, 2013 - 2:14 pm

For those of you referencing King Street in Charleston, you do realize how dangerous that part of town was before it was revitalized, right? You didn’t want to walk there alone. North of Calhoun it was mostly empty boarded up storefronts. They cleaned up the area and the new businesses created jobs. I fail to understand why that is so devastating? And I’m fairly certain no one living in Charleston is unhappy with this change to their city. The S&W building is a truly beautiful building, but as Jake and others have mentioned, no one has been able to have a successful business there. I understand everyone’s commitment to keep Asheville as unique as possible, I really do, but I would much rather have a thriving business there than it sit empty. If a third generation Ashevillian business owner is ok with this, then I am too.

Yeppers November 6, 2013 - 2:57 pm

Odds are that an Anthropologie there won’t be able to be successful either, but they’ll be more likely to stay open either way because their corporate structure subsidizes stores that do not make a profit.

Instead of 2 million from city council to Asheville Arts Museum, who could give two hoots about the non-wealthy community, how about 600,000 to develop open studios and artist incubation center in the S&W? That would bring far more value added and true economic development than a corporate chain.

Yeppers November 6, 2013 - 2:59 pm

“I am fairly certain no one living in Charleston is unhappy with this change to their city.”

That depends on what you mean by “no one”.


Sean November 7, 2013 - 3:49 pm

Citing the opinions of a few racists. Nice touch. Read the comments below the story for a differing opinion from other locals there.

Yeppers November 7, 2013 - 11:48 pm

English/Logic/Common Sense 101, being black and calling attention to systemic racism does not make someone a racist.

Carmen November 6, 2013 - 1:42 pm

It seems like a weird location to me, but I can’t afford to shop there anyway so I don’t care. For that matter, I can’t afford to shop almost anywhere downtown – buying local, handmade clothes, crafts, food, etc. is expensive too. If I could afford either, I would opt for local. But right now I’ll be waiting for someone to buy something at Anthropology that doesn’t fit and they’re too tired to drive downtown and fight traffic and parking to return it, and end up in my hands for 75% off at Goodwill.

Yeppers November 6, 2013 - 1:41 pm

Chain stores left downtowns across US to rot during the days of urban renewal mid 20th c. Now that no one wants to go to the shitty suburban malls, the chains are happy to leave them behind as blighted areas (usually it’s been too long for people to remember the forests and farmland that were razed in order to build them in the first place) and capitalize off our homegrown revitalization in urban centers.

They are opportunistic vultures, they come in, pay workers shit wages, and all profits fly out of the community straight to the corporate office. This trend is *exactly* what Asheville does not need, if we want more real jobs, more use of downtown for people who actually live here, more sourcing of locally made goods, more artists and artisans work sold. Chains are perfectly happy to get tax breaks, gut what we have, take the money and run whenever it suits them. It’s wealth extraction, pure and simple.

The stores nearby may have increased foot traffic for a few years, but will that matter in 3-4 years when the rents have jacked up so high that the only people that can pay them are Foot Locker and Starbucks? People might not think it can happen here, but it happens over and over again elsewhere.

It kills me that people don’t even care about protecting what we have worked so hard to build, and what is ours. If you want downtown to become an open air chain mall just like everywhereelse, USA, by all means, welcome the chains. To those that say ‘it’s only one store, get over yourself, stop being so dramatic’, just look at history to correct that notion. I love this town, and what makes us US.

Jason W. November 7, 2013 - 11:29 am

So, exactly how are we supposed to stop the chains from moving in downtown?

Those decisions lie with the property owners, and not the public at large.

Sean November 7, 2013 - 3:48 pm

Prepare yourself for more Progressive buzzwords.

Yeppers November 7, 2013 - 11:46 pm

No progressive here, I’m a dyed in the wool mountain momma. Born and raised on self-reliance. I don’t need their crap. I think we’ll do just great here without deadend “jobs” and fancy knicknacks made in China

Emily November 6, 2013 - 1:26 pm

I am not sure if any of you have heard about the controversy with a company called Cody Foster, which has done a great deal of business with the Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie chains, but it is worth looking up- http://www.fastcodesign.com/3021165/alleged-design-pirate-cody-foster-is-only-sorry-they-were-caught. Asheville is a hub of creative and inventive people, and these stores rip off all of the original ideas and uniqueness of places and people like Asheville and make it cheap and easy via overseas factories. If that’s what you’re into then by all means shop there…

Yo November 6, 2013 - 2:34 pm

Anthro severed ties with Cody Foster pretty quickly once this came out. Anthro is a place for established artists and designers to sell their items on a large scale, assuming they inspire the Anthro buyers and fit the aesthetic. Blame the shady designers, not Anthro. I suppose that you’ll blame libraries next for originally carrying James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces.” If you’re making a point, TRY making one instead of simply grasping at context that you think relevant.

Yeppers November 6, 2013 - 2:49 pm

Oh, please–established artists and designers? More like, more mass produced stuff that is sold a a higher price margin, deluding gullible people that the quality is any different or is in ANY way artisan made, much less supporting artists or locals.

James S. November 7, 2013 - 11:37 am

No, Anthropologie and company do not purchase from artists and designers. They ripoff original artists’ designs and mass produce them for cheaper, putting them out of business. Wouldn’t that be so great for our local economy??!


Jacque November 6, 2013 - 11:49 am

The influx of chains may be inevitable, but I don’t think this is a good move for downtown. There are an astonishing number of empty storefronts downtown that are ripe for development, and I know Anthropologie will do a great job with the space, just as Urban Outfitters improved their corner. Anthropologie will be gorgeous, and their clothes are nice, but I am definitely concerned about losing what’s unique to Asheville. Urban Outfitters on it’s own hasn’t been horrible, but add to that Kilwin’s, Anthropologie, Marble Slab, Jimmy John’s, Doc Chey’s, Mellow Mushroom, Local Taco, Farm Burger, the Aloft, Indigo and hotel after hotel. Then, maybe an Apple store (though I don’t really see a town our size getting one of those), Chipotle, and on down the line an American Apparel, Victoria’s Secret, Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, etc. etc. All are businesses that would do well in our town, but we quickly start to look like every other place in America. Look at Charleston’s King St, and Boulder’s Pearl Street, both are very vibrant, walkable shopping districts, but they’re probably 75% “chain” at this point.

The city would do well to take a hard look at what we want to be in 10 – 20 years and plan for that. Don’t just welcome an Anthropologie because it’s good for that empty building, or that block. If you do that a few more times Asheville will quickly lose it’s uniqueness. Again, it doesn’t take much to convince me this is simply the way the world is moving, and this homogenization may be inevitable, but it seems we still do have something special in Asheville and should work to maintain that.

Yeppers November 6, 2013 - 1:49 pm

It’s not inevitable and no one should ever be able to convince you of that. Other towns have adopted the idea of ‘equitable development’–it’s either that, or developers gone wild. We do not have to submit to their every whim–we kept Walmart out of West Asheville, didn’t we?

It’s not that people don’t want progress, they just don’t want to be fucked over in the meantime.

Sean November 7, 2013 - 3:54 am

What is this “we” you speak of?

Yeppers November 7, 2013 - 9:22 am

In this case, working people, business owners and families who have organized to retain our hard-won local power.

JML November 6, 2013 - 10:03 am

Something like Anthropologie opening isn’t as bad as say a McDonald’s or Foot Locker opening. Some bigger stores or chains are okay

Jake November 6, 2013 - 8:27 am

S&W has been the location of failed, after failed, after failed business. If Anthropologie thinks they can make a go of it, I’m all for it, local or not.

That location is cursed, as far as I’m concerned.

Z November 5, 2013 - 11:33 pm

What a crock of shit. The S&W is an iconic building that deserves better treatment than some high dollar knick knack store. More junk thats made in china or some other sweatshop that people don’t need. This is disgraceful. That building was wonderful when it was the steakhouse and the bar upstairs. Yeah, sure, empty rooms suck too. But c’mon man, are you f’n kidding me? An Anthroaopology> What a joke.

Big Al November 5, 2013 - 10:55 pm

Hipsters! Let the hating begin!

J.C. Tripp November 5, 2013 - 8:48 pm

It’s too bad some downtown arts organization didn’t lay claim to a building like S&W and turn it into a working studio environment, much like South Florida Arts Center did on South Beach. That opportunity has clearly passed, since the trend is now toward monetizing downtown for tourism. I lived on South Beach in the late ’80s and ’90s and saw both Collins Ave. and Lincoln Road transform from seedy, empty storefronts to the influx of national chains. I don’t think Asheville will ever become South Beach but as its image and profile increase, more of them will vie for space downtown. The presence of both Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie will surely bring other lifestyle chains. Just take a walk up King Street in charleston if you want an idea of what it could become. Lincoln Road still has the presence of the Arts Center but otherwise it’s a total sellout. No reason why it won’t happen here.

Jason W. November 7, 2013 - 11:52 am

What arts organization? The Asheville Arts Council has become a joke, with their “colored balls” and little in the way of actual funding. Other established arts organizations, with the possible exception of the Art Museum, rely mostly on private contributions, which barely keeps them afloat, let alone buy or pay rent and renovate a multi-million dollar space in downtown.

Ashley November 5, 2013 - 7:50 pm

What annoys me are the people who are so against any type of business but local. What do you want, the empty buildings to stay empty? For years? I love local and shop local when I can but sometimes that’s not feasible. I’d rather see full buildings thriving than empty shells.

John Mallett November 5, 2013 - 10:22 pm

This exactly. I’m the 3rd generation in a family business on the same block as the S&W building, and I expect this will be good for us. The fact is that right now there is nothing on the Patton Ave side of Pritchard Park past the pharmacy but empty windows and panhandlers. A new business in an empty space is going to bring increased foot traffic on my block and more shoppers into my store. It’s great that Asheville makes an effort to support locally grown businesses (believe me we appreciate it), but supporting local doesn’t have to mean deriding non-local if they’re not in a zero-sum competition.
Anyone who remembers when Urban Outfitters moved in should remember that they upfitted an eyesore abandoned CVS building, and the two local clothing stores directly across from them seem to be doing just fine if not better than before they moved in.
As for staying open until 9, I started doing that in my shop five years ago, it’s not exactly a new thing.
Personally, I keep hoping Apple is gonna realize that that big empty space at the bottom of the Capital Center would be the prefect location for them open up in Asheville. It’s insulting to have to drive to Greenville every time I need to get my iPhone fixed.

JT November 6, 2013 - 12:33 pm

Well put, thanks for speaking up.

Meg November 6, 2013 - 1:52 pm

Well said!

Murphy November 5, 2013 - 6:21 pm

The most likely side effect of “chains” will be increased rent…

Stephanie November 6, 2013 - 2:02 pm

The only way the rents will increase is if the chains are bringing more pedestrian traffic to the area. I see no problem in the rents rising if the businesses are getting more customers.

Vlad Emrick November 5, 2013 - 5:05 pm

There’s really been no rush by national chains to enter downtown Asheville for a while now, and several that have entered the Asheville market in recent years have chosen to locate in Biltmore Village and Biltmore Park instead. I doubt there will be much of a rush into downtown because of this one store, either. It’s noteworthy that Urban Outfitters’ corporate parent also owns Anthropologie–they’re obviously happy with their downtown store, and understand the unique dynamics of the market.

Jason W November 5, 2013 - 4:27 pm

This kind of commercial renewal and relocation seems cyclical. Just like what happened downtown in the ’40’s & ’50’s.

Sean November 5, 2013 - 3:32 pm

Seems like South Asheville would be the better demographic…

Dr Driz November 5, 2013 - 3:27 pm

I hope so. This town sizucks yo!

Chris Power November 5, 2013 - 2:38 pm

I remember all the fuss when Staples, Wild Wing Cafe, Urban Outfitters and to some extent Trader Joe’s came to town. Do I think any of them drastically changed Asheville’s downtown scene? No. And the fact that these stores might stay open until 9 p.m. is a good thing for all of us! I hate seeing places close up for the evening before I even leave the office! From what I see on their website, Anthropologie seems to be a nice fit. Cream rises to the top right?

chris November 5, 2013 - 4:34 pm

>Cream rises to the top right?

Was this an oblique Santorum reference?

(The CEO of Anthropologie was a supporter of Santorum, for those who didn’t know.)

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