Word on the street is that Starbucks is on the hunt for a downtown Asheville location for one of its coffee shops. Building owners and commercial real estate reps are being hit up by Starbucks officials seeking just the right spot.
Downtown is booming with new hotel construction, the major remodeling of the Asheville Art Museum and a tidal wave of tourists. It’s no wonder it has the attention of the coffeehouse giant. Starbucks coffee shops currently ring downtown, with a brand new Starbucks on Patton Avenue to the west, an established shop on Charlotte Street to the north and a Starbucks close to the entrance of the Biltmore Estate to the south.
Let’s not forgot all the amazing locally owned coffee shops that currently populate downtown. High Five Coffee, Trade and Lore, PennyCup Coffee Co., Izzy’s, True Confections and Vortex Doughnuts are three favorites, not to mention all the great coffee you can get in locally our locally owned bakery/dessert shops downtown.
This, of course, will bring up the on-again off-again conversation about chain businesses locating in downtown Asheville, which is mostly home to independent retail shops, restaurants and other small businesses. It was Urban Outfitters’ 2010 move to the corner of Haywood and College streets that first signaled that downtown Asheville was on the radar of big chains. There was a serious rumor that Waffle House was looking hard at downtown. Then in 2015, it was Anthropologie’s move to North Lexington Avenue that riled some folks up.
Franzi Charen and the Asheville Grown Business Alliance has led the conversation about the economic importance of buying local. It’s critical to the survival of small, independent businesses, and since the creation of Asheville Grown, Charen has continued to push for even greater awareness.
The next step is some policy action on the part of Asheville’s elected officials, such as the adoption of a moratorium on chains, or the adoption of some type of zoning rules aimed at keeping big chains out of downtown. So far, there’s been no action on that front.