Two years ago, Anthropologie participated in extended negotiations with the owners of the S&W Cafeteria building on Patton Avenue in downtown, but those talks eventually broke down.
Anthropologie is owned by Urban Outfitters, which opened five years ago in downtown Asheville at the corner of Haywood and College streets. The opening of the Urban Outfitters set off a heated discussion about whether downtown Asheville, known for its eclectic mix of independently owned shops, should embrace retail chains and was also tied to the creation of Asheville Grown Business Alliance, the very successful “buy local” movement here in town.
The local shops that are downtown cater to tourists. How many years have the same shops been selling the same ole. Shit like paper lanterns and lawn ornaments made in china. The whole buy local thing is just a marketing strategy. What really constitutes local?
Confirmed. Permit #15-08278. 37 N LEXINGTON AVE ANTHROPOLOGIE
TENANT BUILD OUT IN THE FIRST FLOOR OF EXISTING BUILDING, OCCUPANCY FOR ANTHROPOLOGIE, REF. 15-06750 (SHELL) AND 15-06241 (DEMO)
How long has that spot been vacant?
I can’t imagine this would be a bad thing for Lexington Ave in particular. Downtown cannot survive on restaurants, breweries and galleries alone and that space has been bricked up/boarded over for ages. Anthro does some fun window design, too.
I agree this seems like a complimentary store – housewares and fashion to go with the art galleries, TOPS to complete the outfit, etc.
I just have to let it be known that this company (Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie) donated to Rick Santorum’s campaign in the last presidential election. I am not sure about this one but go ahead and look it up.
Their CEO did, on a personal level. Big deal. Yes, let’s blame an entire company of 10s of thousands of employees for their CEO’s political contributions.
I vote with the dollars I spend.
I buy what I want to see in the world and do not support (financially or otherwise) what I do not want to see in the world.
Easy as that.
So, what constitutes a “chain” then? Tupelo Honey (chain), Scully’s multiple endeavors (more than one, must be a “chain”), Mellow Mushroom (chain). A downtown that doesn’t have yet another antique or head shop? Good! God forbid we give consumers multiple options for spending their money and increasing foot traffic to places like Kress and our other eccentric shops on LEX, or even a place like Tops (shoes to go with that new dress?). If it simply didn’t fit downtown it’d be one thing (a McDonald’s, for instance). But it does. So, while my lady is shopping at Anthropologie, I’ll grab a beer (or three)at LAB. Everyone will win here.
There’s also Doc Chey’s, Marble Slab, even Mast General Store. The anti-chain downtown crowd never complains about them because they are considered “cool” chains. Likewise Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are right on the edge of downtown. When Trader Joe’s pushed out three locally owned businesses there was nary a peep.
Downtown Asheville has had a long history with chains. JC Penny, Belk, Bon Marche, Sears, Woolworth’s, etc.
Let me make a peep: Mast, Tupelo Honey, Ingles, Chai Pani, White Duck all get my business because they are local. The chain aspect doesn’t really matter to me. I haven’t been to Doc Chey’s in 10 years, I’d rather go to the Noodle Shop. Marble Slab, that’s a shame it’s there, The Hop or Ultimate would do just as well. Kilwin’s, Urban Outfitters, I’m not in to.
Imagine if Malaprop’s was a Barnes & Noble. If Salsa’s was a Chipotle. Is that the downtown you want?
I certainly prefer Salsa’s to Chipolte (like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods another chain that anti-chain Asheville begged for)as well, but haven’t been in Malaprop’s for quite a while because I found the staff rude and surly. I no longer shop there. It would be nice to have an indie bookstore in Asheville that treated its customers well but since there is not I’ll take Barnes and Noble.
I have no use for Urban Outfitters either but as I pointed out downtown Asheville has a long history of chains and all of the ones I listed above existed along side locally owned businesses.
My overall point is that the outrage over chain stores downtown is pretty selective. Mellow Mushroom gets no complaints. It’s a chain but it has a hipster panache so it gets a pass by the chain police.
Another 100% correct comment
Tupelo Honey is a chain now by your definition with restaurants out of state. You better mark them off your list.
It’s also a pretty myopic view of things. Basically we don’t care if opening one of “our chains” in someone else’s market may damage their local economy. So… we can move in another market, we just don’t want anyone moving into ours. That’s pretty hypocritical in my book.
With a non-locally based chain, more of the money leaves Asheville.
And with more chain businesses that can also be found in Greenville, Charlotte, Atlanta, Charleston, New York City, Boulder, Asheville loses it’s uniqueness. We look like every other city, tourists aren’t as drawn to downtown, the breweries slow down and us locals have to drink all the beer instead.
Anthropologie is certainly a nice store, and that lot that has been boarded up for decades isn’t appealing at all, but I don’t think Anthropologie offers anything that other local shops don’t already (overpriced hippie-chic dresses and accessories). To me, the negative aspects, what it says about our city, outweigh the benefits of them coming.
First, the claim that non-locally based businesses have their money “leave” Asheville is simply false. And, yes, I’m aware of all of the studies that make these anecdotal claims or confuse correlation with causation.
Tax dollars, wages to support 50+ employees (which are higher than most local shops), local utilities, etc. all stay in the local economy. If the procurement and sourcing of local goods is the issue (for instance, material to make dresses that come from abroad as opposed to locally), then I’m not sure anyone qualifies in AVL. For restaurants and grocers sourcing locally it makes more sense (and I believe Whole Foods does this quite a bit), but unless competing local shops are spinning local cotton for their garments, then it’s not as if a new clothing chain is bleeding the local economy of money. As far as professional services like advertising or accounting, then, true, those aren’t contracted locally. But a local graphics company or accountant not getting a gig because a new chain doesn’t give them the business…well, it’s not like they had that business before.
To me, the buy local argument is best positioned against mega-retailers like Wal-Mart and target. And those that push the buy local agenda at all costs should learn the differences between micro and macro economics.
In a retail world where everyone can just as easily shop on Amazon for similar products, having a retailer that is an attraction to your retail community is a big win.
You my friend have the most spot on post I have ever seen on here. Keep in mind that these “non local chains” also often provide something that small local stores do not or unfortunately cannot… benefits.
Now that response was factual and on point. Very well said.
You dispute “studies” and “anecdotal claims” and then proceed to spout off your own opinion with no citations at all. Look, you can argue that Anthrpologie will bring more people to the indie shops downtown. We can argue whether the parent company that also owns Urban Outfitters has responsible or progressive sociopolitical ties (they don’t).
But arguing that local businesses don’t keep more of the money in town is just incorrect. There are dozens and dozens of studies that show that shopping with local businesses is better long term for your community.
I have no problem with people who feel that for economic reasons they can’t afford to choose local, but I feel very fortunate that we have so many strong local businesses in our immediate area that I feel earn my dollars and cents.
I don’t need to spout off studies and use citations, and I can Google some “buy local” links as well. I can also pick up a Econ 101 book and use a basic understanding of how local cash flow works. No one is saying “don’t buy local.” I’m saying, the “buy local or else our local economy will collapse and chains are evil” argument is a joke. Sure, a local business might keep more of THEIR money in town, but that’s a smaller % of money based on their volume. But fine, let’s keep giving shoppers a reason to use Amazon Prime instead. We both agree that strong local businesses are great for the economy, but diverse non-local retailers (inclusive of chains) are also quite important and local retailers should welcome them.
You said non-local dollars don’t leave Asheville. I cited studies that show otherwise.
Please, offer me a counterpoint that isn’t “nuh-uh!” And show your work.
Asheville will eventually look like downtown Charleston. Expensive boutiques and chain stores. The only thing I occasionally buy downtown now is food or drinks. I can’t afford the clothing or home furnishings downtown anymore as it is.
wasn’t this space supposed to be an expansion of LAB?
What happened to that?
Cue the NIMBYs and Support Local crew! (as well as those who believe this will hurt LEX businesses). It won’t. Demand, meet supply. Hub and spoke. Would these LEX businesses rather have the Anthropologie located in S. Asheville? Very excited about this. This will draw the foot traffic of exactly the type of customer LEX businesses want. Complementary business relationships are a positive thing.