I’m more than a little surprised I haven’t covered this one before. Just take a look at the décor in any local café, and you’ll see what I mean. Asheville practically lives, breathes, and eats antiques, so it’s no wonder there’s an entire quarter of the city devoted to it: the Biltmore Antiques District, just east of Biltmore Village.
I happen to have visited more or less all of the antique shops in town during The Great Pocket Watch Expedition (details classified). I’ve got a pretty good grasp on what’s what in the Antiques District—and even beyond—so here’s a list of five of the best antique shops in Asheville to visit the next time you’re in town.
Not to be confused with Gan Shan Station, Salvage Station, or Blue Ridge Public Radio (an NPR station), this 36,000 square-foot up-cycler’s paradise is a good start to your Asheville antiquing. A generous chunk of the wares are re-purposed and/or salvaged in partnership with Asheville Junk Recyclers, which just goes to show how many magnificent things get thrown in the landfill day-to-day.
Although the merchandise rotates frequently, I’ve observed a consistent focus on a 60s/70s retro aesthetic. Besides the décor, Regeneration Station also does clothing consignment, which revolves around a similarly funky vibe. If any of that sounds up your alley, they can be found just south of the Asheville Mall, on the edge of the Biltmore Antiques District.
Picks from a Casual Antiquer: Their prints. They may or may not be technically “antique,” but they do come in a variety of sizes, from hand-held to wall-covering. The smaller ones are excellent choices for gifts with character.
That's right: another station. Located in the River Arts District, Riverview Station was once a part of the district’s industrial past. Now its the abode of potters, jewelers, painters, Café Yuzu, and an especially vibrant antiques-shop. Given the part of town it lies in—where pop-murals adorn just about every paintable surface—you can imagine the spirit of this shop’s wares. Furthermore, a visit here can be paired with perusals of Asheville’s many workshops and studios, making it the perfect stop to familiarize yourself with the local art-scene.
Picks from a Casual Antiquer: Typewriters are always a good choice. If you’re visiting Asheville, you’ll probably wind up buying at least one anyways.
Back in the Biltmore Antiques District, Village Antiques lies more on the upscale side of things. Although their selection remains as eclectic as any antique shop, they do have a focus on French and English imports. It’s enough to make you say “oh-la-la,” I’ll tell you.
What really stands out to me though, is the fact that they do design consulting for Asheville residences. If you’re visiting Asheville just to visit, and you’ve got an interest in old-world style, Village Antiques is certainly worth a go. But if you’re visiting with the intent of moving here (and who wouldn’t?) this shop offer a unique opportunity to connect with local designers, who may prove helpful in setting up your new Asheville home.
Picks from a Casual Antiquer: A new old desk. It’s not exactly something you can take on the plane, but they do ship. And if you’ve got to have a desk, I say it might as well weigh one thousand pounds and look like it came out of a black-and-white photo.
This is the big one. The mammoth. The Valhalla of vintage. Spanning 77,000 square feet with stalls for seventy-five antique-dealers, the old Barn is chock-full of all manner of antiques. If you don’t know what you’re after—or if you know what you’re after but aren’t sure where to find it—the Antique Tobacco Barn is the Asheville antique shop for you. If I had to find a through-line in their displays, I’d say its some kind of country-chic. But like I said, there’s plenty of variety to be had.
What’s more, the travelling espresso-bar Kafe Neo can be found here when they’re not catering a concert or whatnot. You’ll need a spot of high-octane caffeination to work through all the stalls.
Picks from a Casual Antiquer: An old radio. They may not work, but they sure do look cool.
Can books be antiques? Well, there’s certainly antique books. In that case, can a bookshop count as an antique shop? Possibly. In any case, this stop in the Grove Arcade puts in you in touch with used books in all manner of subjects, as well as plenty of nearby restaurants and shopping.
The Book Exchange buys its stock from its patrons and as they’re also a champagne-bar, you can trade your books for wine—which is a first for me. Their menu covers a wide range of wines, champagnes, cocktails and charcuterie boards, all served with local baguettes. On the non-alcoholic side, they have all the espresso selections you’d expect from a self-respecting bookstore. Combined with live music on the weekends, the Battery Park certainly breaks the formula for antique shops—if it even counts as one—and constitutes an intensely stylish Asheville relaxation-destination.
Picks from a Casual Antiquer: I’ve just gotten through a good chunk of Ibsen’s work. It can be slow-going, but I’d recommend him. Of course there’s no telling what kind of books you’ll find here, and you know what manner of reading you like better than I do, so its best to just follow your nose.
26 Glendale Ave B, Asheville, NC 28803
Antiques at Riverview Station
191 Lyman St, Asheville, NC 28801
755 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28803
The Antique Tobacco Barn
75 Swannanoa River Rd, Asheville, NC 28805
Battery Park Book Exchange
1 Page Ave #101, Asheville, NC 28801