Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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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.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. Nope August 4, 2017

    “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.”

    Really? Didn’t they replace a CVS, Jason? Dude. That radar’s been up much longer.

    Give your agenda a rest. Your journalism is far too biased anymore. Stop being a shill for Franzi and Rebecca Hecht, because last I checked, they barely offered a livable wage, decent benefits, or even college tuition reimbursement like these chains you’re so quick to demonize.

    The next step should be for these trinket shops and overpriced convenience stores you claim to be the backbone of downtown to actually pay employees more than minimum wage, with benefits. Since, you know, they’re trying to profit off the same tourist tidal wave that your hated chains are.

  2. Curious August 4, 2017

    Has anyone looked at Starbuck’s as a good corporate citizen? They appear to have some of the most progressive policies of any corporation. Are their policies a fit for Asheville?

  3. Tmax August 3, 2017

    Chains are here already add Wicked Weed which is now part of the Budweiser chain.

  4. Yes Please! August 3, 2017

    All of the “local” downtown coffee shops are stupidly expensive, as much as double the cost of ordering an equivalent beverage from Starbucks, and consistency from day to day and barista to barista is non existent. How is it that I can go into any Starbucks in the country and get exactly what I expect when I order, but when I walk down Lexington I can’t even get the same quality Mocha two days in a row? Asheville coffee is an overpriced joke, a Starbucks on the hotel-stroll is exactly what we need.

  5. Big Al August 3, 2017

    I doubt many non-chains could afford downtown anyway, so the locals’ hostility is misplaced.

  6. Ej August 2, 2017

    Jimmy johns, subway, marble slab, mellow mushroom, Starbucks (in Haywood Park Hotel), kilwins, every corporate hotel, every corporate bank, uber. Chains are everywhere.

  7. Juan Valdez August 2, 2017

    Most of existing downtown coffee joints either plain suck (World Coffee) or charge way too much, while making sure you leave a tip, literally watching you or scolding you if you don’t. The dude at Izzy’s is such a dick I never go there, well most of them are. Like, sorry your band didn’t get signed, maybe you should be a bar tender? The attitude at these places is laughable: hey, we all remember college, some of us moved on. Just want a place where I can get a cup of joe without serious shade cause I ain’t covered in ink. I welcome Starbucks.

  8. Russ August 2, 2017

    Izzy’s and High Five both have multiple locations. Does that make them a chain? What’s the definition of a chain? There a numerous locally-owned businesses with multiple locations within Asheville and even expanding outside of WNC. Are those chains that should be prohibited from doing business in downtown Asheville? Although I’m a local business owner, I don’t agree/support legislation that would limit who can or can’t operate business in the City of Asheville.

    1. Weavervilleman August 3, 2017

      if they (Asheville City Council) pass the bill opposing Chains Downtown, there is a HIGH likelihood for many businesses to close downtown and no one opening another business (other than a hotel or a BNB), if the leasing rates dont decrease.

    2. Adrian August 4, 2017

      Agreed Russ.

      Asheville’s knee-jerk reaction against any business successful enough to have multiple locations (chains) or one which is able to cash in through sale to a larger enterprise (Wicked Weed) is both puerile and facile.

      How many business owners start their businesses hoping to keep profits (and therefore success) to a minimum?

      I have to assume that the owners all of the “local” businesses in downtown who are raising hell against “chains” are dividing their profits equally amongst themselves and all of their employees, are not attempting to increase their revenues, and would immediately turn down offers of an enormous buyout or any outside investment to help them open additional locations in other markets.

      Hypocrisy? Myopia? Or simply pseudo-socialist, theoretical, holier-than-thou posturing? Or all of the above?


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