Dear members of the Wake Forest Community,
Last week in the Old Gold & Black, an article was published encouraging Wake Forest students to travel to Asheville, N.C.
I’m an Asheville native, born and raised, and I have a few things to say.
First, Asheville is pushing to increase tourism, but this increase comes at a cost: local businesses, which strive to uphold Asheville’s unique spirit, are being run out of town by big companies like Urban Outfitters, Starbucks and Forever21.
Second, Asheville is not like the rest of the South. Presumably you want to go to Asheville because of its reputation, so here is a list of a few things to keep in mind.
If you want to get a local’s experience, don’t go to Starbucks. Go to one of the many coffee shops serving locally brewed coffee.
In the main downtown area, there are Izzy’s, Green Sage, Old Europe, Malaprops, the Book Exchange, French Broad Chocolate Lounge, City Bakery, Bomba and more. In West Asheville, there are Battle Cat and Odd’s Cafe. In the River Arts District, there is Clingman Cafe. If you like tea, go to Dobra. These all serve better drinks at better prices than Starbucks.
If you want to support Asheville business, don’t go to the malls or to Urban Outfitters. Go to locally owned stores like Old North, Union and Virtue.
If you really want to make Asheville happy, buy clothes made by artisan producers throughout WNC.
Hit me up if you want to know more.
The most important rule: don’t drink non-Asheville beer! There are tons of local breweries making delicious beer in town.
Try Asheville Brewery (which also makes delicious pizza), Oskar Blues, Highland, Green Man, Sierra Nevada, Hi-Wire, Burial and Pisgah. Leave the Natty for another day. By all means, drink at Wicked Weed — but not only there. Try Foothills, The Thirsty Monk, Pack’s Tavern, Jack of The Wood and Urban Orchard Cider. If you’re feeling adventurous, head down to Lexington, where you’ll find the LAB, the Crow & Quill, Tiger Mountain and the kombucha bar (no one knows the name of it). Just ask a dirty hippie where the buchi bar is.
Some cultural notes: don’t point and laugh at the “weird” people.
Like I said, Asheville is not like the rest of the South. You may see a scruffy nun riding an eight-foot-tall bicycle (really, google “Asheville bike nun”).
You may see street musicians who could use some soap. You might see people wearing body paint and not much else.
And you will see more hipsters than you could ever tell to get a real job.
Here’s the deal: they know you see them, and they know you’re judging them. And they don’t care.
Welcome to Asheville. You’re probably the odd one out. Above all else, be respectful. Don’t take free parking if you find it. Asheville has a terrible parking problem. There are a few places, which I won’t disclose, where you could park for free. Those lots are not for you.
As a Wake Forest student, you probably have the money to pay for parking, but the people working for minimum wage to serve you coffee, food and beer don’t.
Second, if you drive on the parkway, which you should, park in the designated lots to go sightseeing.
Don’t go 20 mph in a 45 mph zone. And actually consider hiking off of the parkway — and not just at Graveyard Fields (it will be flooded with people until December).
All that said, have fun! Just don’t be rude about it, and don’t support businesses that destroy Asheville’s character.
And P.S., the French Broad Chocolate Lounge is not the only chocolate place in town.
Don’t wait in that line for an hour. Try the Chocolate Fetish, Old Europe, or Black Mountain Chocolate instead.