The Asheville Shopping Scene-a local's perspective
Shopping in Asheville, NC can be quite an adventure, but if you don’t know the best places, you could be wasting your time at shops that are run of the mill, and can be found in any other town. If you are visiting Asheville, I highly recommend stopping by and exploring the local stores that are unique to the area.
Downtown Asheville is a fascinating and vibrant place to shop. One key shopping spot there—The Grove Arcade—is a lovely, historic building known for its eclectic shops, most of which are open 10 to 6, six days a week, and 12 to 5 on Sundays. Shops are accessible from the interior, exterior, or both, and sell a variety of wares, including art pieces, crafty décor, and handmade clothing. Don’t forget to check out the galleries in Asheville’s River Arts District nearby for lots more local art of all kinds.
One of the coolest local book stores, Malaprop’s, is in Downtown Asheville. They generally have a good selection of books by local authors, and a little café that serves coffee and other hot drinks. My aunt who lives out of town always wants to visit there when she comes to town, and I never turn down the chance to go with her!
While shopping in downtown Asheville, you’ll also want to stop by Asheville Bee Charmer, a cute little shop that you won’t come across just anywhere. They offer honey tasting, as well as lots of bee and honey related souvenirs, and other products such as beeswax candles and lip balm.
For a great selection of artwork to browse through, pop in Woolworth Walk; it’s two floors of works by local artists who have utilized all kinds of tools and media. To recapture that old-fashioned feel from the good old days—or maybe experience it for the very first time—stop in at The Soda Fountain at Woolworth Walk, where the standard sandwich and ice cream soda fare is served.
Mast General Store is another step back in time, from the barrels of candy to the hand-crafted rocking chairs, this store invites you to slow down and appreciate the simple things. Mast carries a little of everything, so be sure to stop by, even if you think it might not be your thing. The retro toys are sure to bring smile to your face.
If you’re an antique hunter, you’ve come to the right place. Asheville is crawling with vintage and antique shops, barns, malls, etc. Whether you’re looking for old books or repurposed furniture, Asheville has it all. With the varying tastes and styles of décor in the area, there are unique finds for young and old alike.
One hot antique spot in Asheville—Screen Door—has 25,000 square feet of interesting and vintage items for shoppers to browse. Screen Door has a little of everything, from old toys to furniture to handmade items. If you visit, you’ll want to plan to go when you have plenty of time to look around at all the different booths, because one could easily spend several hours and still not see it all.
Close to the Biltmore House is Biltmore Village. While many of the little shops in Biltmore Village are on the pricey side, and none of the stores stood out to me as being extraordinary, I have enjoyed window shopping here because the atmosphere is lovely. The old-style appearance of the shops gives the whole area a charming feel.
Out toward the South Asheville/Arden area, you’ll find Biltmore Park Town Square, a neatly designed area for Asheville shopping, with various stores all in the same square, as well as restaurants for when you get hungry. I like to park somewhere central, or in the parking garage on a crowded day, and walk everywhere—like to Barnes and Noble, the well-stocked toy store O. P. Taylor’s, or Neo Burrito for lunch. Also located in Biltmore Park is an REI, which is always fun for the outdoorsy person.
Everyone loves the mall, or if you don’t, you probably have to go there at some point, especially for Christmas shopping. If you are more of a mall shopper or need to hit lots of stores in one place, there is always the Asheville Mall, which houses your standard anchor stores such as Belk and JCPenney, along with many other stores and a food court. Another option is the Asheville Outlets, an outdoor mall with stores like the Nike Factory Store, Dillard’s Clearance, Coach Outlet, Vineyard Vines Outlet, and more. They also have smaller food court indoors.
When you venture into both new and already familiar places to shop, don’t forget shopping takes time. Sometimes you don’t find anything that’s just right or exactly what you’re looking for immediately, while other times you might hit the jackpot in the first five minutes. Either way, shopping is always a more successful and enjoyable experience when you are not in a rush, so take your time while keeping your eyes peeled for that thing that jumps out at you, or “bites you,” as my aunt would say.
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