Shopping in Asheville
Asheville is the shopping hub of Western North Carolina. While there are interest-ing shops in Hendersonville, Waynesville, Brevard, Bryson City, Black Mountain and other towns in WNC, Asheville gets about 60% of total retail dollars in the region.
Asheville, like most cities, abounds with antique stores and shops. Probably the best areas for antique shopping in Asheville are the Biltmore/South Asheville area, with more than a dozen shops and antique malls and West Asheville.
Swannanoa River Road near Biltmore has several large antique malls/barns, including Antique Tobacco Barn (75 Swannanoa River Rd., South Asheville, 828-252-7291; www.atbarn.com), in a former burley tobacco warehouse, with 77,000 square feet of antiques and junque from 75 dealers. ScreenDoor (115 Fairview Rd., 828-277-3667; www.screendoorasheville.com) has about 100 vendors in 25,000 square feet.
Biltmore Village has several upscale antique shops. Downtown, check out antique shops along North Lexington Avenue, Walnut Street, Rankin Avenue and Broadway Street. However, a couple of the longtime antique malls in this area have closed or relo-cated.
ARTS AND CRAFTS
If you’re a gallery junkie, Asheville is paradise. There are dozens of art and crafts galleries Downtown and in the River Arts District. See the Arts and Crafts sections for information on the galleries.
Asheville Food Truck Lots (51 Coxe Ave., Downtown Asheville, and elsewhere), next to the main Asheville Redefines Transit bus terminal, is a permanent spot for food trucks selling inexpensive food at lunch and dinner. Vendors vary, but you can get Vietnamese, Indian, Lebanese, Mexican, Korean, sandwiches, soul food and other eats. A few vendors stay open late, especially in summer. Food trucks also make appearances, on a rotating basis, at other venues including the Bywater bar, Wedge Brewery, Pisgah Brewery and elsewhere.
Discount Shoes (1266 Brevard Rd., Asheville West, 828-667-0085) attracts shoppers from far and wide for its huge selection of name-brand boots and shoes at discount-ed prices. This warehouse-style, self-service store usually has large, wide and narrow sizes often not available in regular stores. Not every pair of shoes is a bargain, but there are many deals, and the selection is truly huge. Next door and owned by the same people is Country Casuals (1255 Brevard Rd., 828-667-9776) with discounted Carhartt work and outdoor clothing.
Enchanted Forrest Boutique (235 Merrimon Ave., North Asheville, 828-236-0688, www.theenchantedforrest.com) is an upscale consignment shop specializing in designer label apparel and accessories for women. If you’re lucky, you find brands like Prada, Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Fendi and Armani.
Goodwill Industries Retail Store (616 Patton Ave., West Asheville, 828-771-2192, www.goodwillnwnc.org) has several outlets in the Asheville area, but this one, in a former Lowe’s store, is huge, and it was renovated and expanded recently. Along with the usual used clothes (displayed by size), appliances, furniture and such, it has a section of new, never-used items.
Habitat for Humanity ReStore (31 Meadow Rd., South Asheville near Biltmore Village, 828-254-6706, www.ashevillehabitat.org) is one of the best Habitat stores you’ll see. It’s been recently redone and has a large selection of furniture, antiques, housewares, appliances, sporting goods and electronics (no clothing). A second Habitat location has recently opened in Weaverville.
Lulu’s Consignment Boutique (3699 Hendersonville Rd., Fletcher, 828-687-7565, www.ilovelulus.net) may be the biggest consignment shop in the area, with 6,000 con-signors. Lulu’s has name-brand clothing, furniture, shoes and lots more, all in top condition. It doesn’t accept many low-end brands or a number of items such as exercise equipment, real fur, knives or guns. Many items are available only seasonally. If the item sells, consignors get 40%, the store gets 60%.
WNC Farmers Market Truck Sheds (570 Brevard Rd., Asheville West, 828- 253-1691, www.ncagr.gov/markets/facilities/markets/asheville/) is the place to go if you’re looking for a bushel of peaches, a peck of hot peppers, pumpkins and corn shocks for your Halloween decorations or a fresh-cut Fraser fir for Christmas. Some truck shed stalls (notably shed numbers 1, 4 and 5) are limited to farmers who only sell locally grown products, while stalls in other sheds others are rented by vendors who re-sell pro-duce from out-of-state. The truck sheds are located below the main retail buildings that you’ll pass first as you enter the market.
Bagatelle Books (428 C Haywood Rd., West Asheville, 828-774-5585) is a used bookstore that opened in the heart of West Asheville in early 2019.
Barnes & Noble (Asheville Mall, 3 S. Tunnel Rd., Asheville, 828-296-7335, and 33 Town Square Blvd., Asheville, 828-687-0681; www.bn.com) has locations at the Asheville Mall and Biltmore Park Town Square.
Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar (Grove Arcade, 1 Page Ave., Asheville, 828-252-0020, www.batteryparkbookexchange.com), at the south end of the Grove Arcade, has wines by the glass and thousands of books. “Dogs and their well-behaved owners welcome.”
Biblio.com (P.O. Box 1211, Asheville, NC 28802, 828-350-0744, www.biblio.com) is a large used and rare bookstore based in Asheville that sells only on-line. Established in 2003, it claims to offer 65 million used, rare and out-of-print books from more than 5,000 bookshops. Some sources say it is the third largest used book marketplace in the U.S.
Downtown Books & News (67 N. Lexington Ave., Asheville, 828-253-8654, www.downtownbooksandnews.com) has an excellent selection of used and rare books and out-of-town newspapers and magazines.
Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café (55 Haywood St., Asheville, 828-254-6734, www.malaprops.com), in business for more than 37 years, is Asheville’s best bookstore, what an independent bookstore should be, with many local and regional books and a knowledgeable staff.
Mr. K's Used Books, Music and More (800 Fairview Rd., River Ridge Shopping Center, East Asheville, 828-299-1145, www.mrksusedbooks.com) is the area's largest selection of used books. For books traded in you can get 40% to 50% of likely sales price credit toward book purchases. For some high-demand books, you can get cash. It also has locations in Charleston and Greenville, S.C. and Johnson City, Tenn.
Bookstores Outside Asheville
Blue Ridge Books (428 Hazelwood Ave., Waynesville, 828-456-6000, www.blueridgebooksnc.com), located in Hazelwood Village just outside Waynesville, sells new books.
City Lights Bookstore (3 East Jackson St., Sylva, 828-586-9499 or 888-853-6298; www.citylightsnc.com) is a small, comfy bookshop with a good selection of regional books. However, it’s not much like its famous namesake in San Francisco. Next door is the pleasant City Lights Café.
Highland Books (36 W. Main St., Brevard, 828-884-2424, www.highlandbooksonline.com), established in 1976 but under new ownership since 2015, sells new books and also has a good selection of greeting cards.
Joy of Books (242 N. Main St., Hendersonville, 828-551-7321, www.joyofbooks.net), in business since 2010, sells used books. It has a small selection of new books.
Sassafras on Sutton (108 Sutton Ave., Black Mountain, 828-419-0677, www.sassafrasonsutton.com), located in charming downtown Black Mountain, in an 1876 building that was once livery stables. Besides new books, Sassafras sells coffee from its neighbor Dynamite Coffee and pastries from another neighbor, Four Sisters Bakery.
Wall Street Books (181 Wall St., Waynesville, 828-456-5000, www.wallstreetbooksnc.com) is a cozy used book store in quaint downtown Waynesville owned by Greg and Bonnie Owens.
North Lexington Avenue (on the north side of Patton Avenue) is the place for small funky boutiques, selling organic clothing, tie-dyed items, beads, crafts and New Age items. Lexington also has some not-so-funky but interesting shops. In fact, many sides of Asheville are represented on Lexington Avenue: subversive hippie, wholesome hippie, hipster, sexy-deviant, intellectual, with its almost self-caricaturizing shops; proudly organic clothing shops; funky resale hipster shops; an intellectual bookshop; the artsy; and DYI bead shop. There's even a lingerie store.
Among other places check out Instant Karma, Gaea Gifts, The Honeypot, a vin-tage, hipster shop with some handmade items, and Hip Replacements, like The Honeypot, but even more hipster; Downtown Books and News (see Bookstores, above); and Dobra Tea, with a Czech heritage and a great selection of teas along with sweet and savory snacks.
Not funky, but one of the great old-time Asheville stores, dating back to 1952, is Tops for Shoes (27 N. Lexington Ave., Downtown Asheville, 828-254-6721; www.topsforshoes.com), with a huge selection of adult and children’s shoes, helpful sales people and a friendly atmosphere.
Throughout most of the 20th century, North Carolina led the United States in fur-niture manufacturing, and the small city of High Point, in the Triad, was considered the “furniture capital of the world.” Following World War II, about 60% of all furniture made in America was produced within a 150-mile radius of High Point, in the Triad and also in Charlotte and Hickory and several towns in Western North Carolina. The city’s week-long semi-annual furniture markets were the major international whole-sale markets for the industry.
However, by the 1990s globalization and the search for cheaper labor resulted in more and more furniture being manufactured in low-cost countries, including China, Vietnam and India and imported into the U.S. By 2019, some two-thirds of the furniture manufacturing jobs in North Carolina had been lost.
Even so, the High Point Market, which takes place in April and October, has more than 10 million square feet of displays in 180 buildings, with roughly 2,000 ex-hibitors throughout about 180 buildings. There are around 70,000 attendees from more than 100 countries. It is open only to industry pros, but products exhibited there soon show up in stores in North Carolina and elsewhere.
A number of higher end furniture manufacturers remain in North Carolina, in-cluding Simplicity Sofas, Broyhill, Johnston Casuals, Drexel, Sherrill, Ethan Alan, Hooker, Kincaid, Vaughan-Bassett, Lexington Home Brands and others. In fact, a rebound in made-in-USA furniture has led one community college in Hickory, Cataw-ba Valley Community College, to establish two “Furniture Academies” to train students for jobs at some 35 local furniture manufacturers. Students learn furniture design, upholstery, pattern making and other skills to meet the demand for qualified employees in the industry.
If you’re shopping for furniture, especially high end designs, it is probably worth your time to drive to the Hickory area, about 80 miles east of Asheville on I-40. Hickory is home to the History Furniture Mart (2220 U.S. Hwy. 70 SE, 800-462-6278, www.hickoryfurniture.com). This furniture mall has about 100 furniture showrooms and galleries all in one large four-level complex. It attracts more than 500,000 visitors a year. While you’re in the area, drive US Highway 321 toward Charlotte. A 20-mile stretch of that highway still has a number of furniture manufacturers, outlets, show-rooms and galleries.
In the Asheville area, Tyson’s (109 Broadway St., Black Mountain, 828-669-5000, www.tysonfurniture.com) has been in business since 1946, with furniture by some 300 manufacturers in 70,000 square feet of space. Penland’s (2700 U.S. Hwy. 70, Swannanoa, 828-686-5561, www.penlandsfurniture.com) is a low-pressure place to shop for outdoor furniture, solid wood bookcases and other items. Togar Rugs (562 Long Shoals Rd, Arden, 828-687-1968, www.togarrugs.com) in business since 1977 and owned by a Turkish native, is the best place to buy high-quality wool, silk and cotton rugs imported from Turkey.
GROCERIES AND SUPERMARKETS
The major chain supermarket in the Asheville area is Ingles (www.ingles-markets.com), a publicly held regional chain with more than 200 stores in the Southeast. It was founded in Asheville 1963 (the first store was on Hendersonville Road near Biltmore) and is still based in the Asheville area. The largest and most appealing Ingles stores locally include those in North Asheville (915 Merrimon Ave.) and on Tunnel Road (29 Tunnel Rd.)
Harris-Teeter, Bi-Lo, Aldi, Food Lion and Publix are among other chains with outlets in Asheville. Walmart has several Supercenters with grocery sections in the area, plus a Sam’s with bulk food items. Costco long has been rumored to be opening in Asheville, but so far that hasn’t happened. Target stores also sell some groceries.
Among the organic and gourmet groceries in the Asheville area are Earth Fare (66 Westgate Parkway, West Asheville, 828-253-7656, and 1856 Hendersonville Rd., South Asheville, 828-210-0100; www.earthfare.com), founded and based in Asheville and now with about 30 locations in the Southeast and Midwest; Whole Foods (944 Merrimon Ave., North Asheville, 828-252-9098 and 1378 Hendersonville Rd., South Asheville, 828-277-7023), now owned by Amazon; French Broad Food Co-op (90 Biltmore Ave., Downtown Asheville, 828-255-7650; www.frenchbroadfood.coop), a local store specializing in locally grown organic foods and other products, open to the public although co-op members and co-op workers receive discounts.
Trader Joe’s (120 Merrimon Ave., North Asheville; www.traderjoes.com), the chain of neighborhood groceries, owned by the German supermarket Aldi, with nearly 500 stores in 33 states, finally opened here in 2013. The rumor mill has it that the chain is also looking at a location in South Asheville. Besides Trader Joe’s, Fresh Market, Harris-Teeter, Aldi and Ingles are among the groceries on “Supermarket Mile” on Merrimon Avenue.
Amazing Savings (45 S. French Broad Ave., Downtown, 828-255-8858; and U.S. Hwy, 70, Black Mountain, 828-669-8988) does have some truly amazing bargains on food items, although you have to look carefully at the expiration dates.
If you must go to a mall, the only one worth of the name is the Asheville Mall (3 S. Tunnel Rd., East Asheville, 828-298-5080; www.asheville-mall.com), a large regional mall with one million square feet of retail space, more than 100 specialty stores and Belk and Dillard's as anchors. The Barnes & Noble bookstore here may be the largest one in the state. Be forewarned that Tunnel Road traffic can be very bad.
The other “major” mall, Biltmore Square Mall, never achieved much success. It underwent a complete makeover, reopening in May 2015 as Asheville Outlets (800 Brevard Rd, 828-667-2308, www.shopashevilleoutlets.com) with about 75 outlet stores, and since then has added additional outlets. The other “malls” around town, such as Westgate, River Ridge, Southridge and Innsbruck Mall, are just strip shopping centers.
A couple of other mallish places you might consider are Biltmore Park Town Square (1 Town Square Blvd., South Asheville, 828-210-1660; www.biltmorepark.com), a planned mix-used community with a 15-screen movie theater, Biltmore Grande, some chain stores including REI and Barnes & Noble, a Hilton hotel and a number of chain restaurants including P.F. Chang’s, plus apartments and condos.
The Grove Arcade (1 Page Ave., Downtown Asheville, 828-252-7799; www.grovearcade.com), originally built in the 1920s as an one of the first enclosed malls in the country, is perhaps more for visitors than locals, but it has a nice selection of restaurants around the exterior, many with sidewalk seating, and a few interesting shops inside, along with apartments and offices.
Big Box stores including Best Buy, Target, Home Depot and Lowe’s are scattered around the Asheville suburbs.
The Asheville area is home to dozens of tailgate markets selling organic and natural produce, crafts, jams, jellies and other homemade foods and other items. The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project or ASAP (306 Haywood St., Downtown Asheville, 828-236-1282; www.asapconnections.org) maintains a list of tailgate and farmers markets in the region.
Among the larger Asheville tailgate markets are the following. Most markets close in winter or have reduced hours. Since many are in parking lots or vacant lots, places and certainly times and dates can change. Wednesdays and Saturdays tend to be the major days for tailgate markets, but some are on other times.
Asheville City Market Downtown 52 N. Market St., Downtown Asheville, Apr.-Oct. Sat. 8-noon; Nov.-Dec. Sat. 9-noon; Masonic Temple Building, 80 Broadway St., Downtown Asheville, Jan.-Feb. Sat. 9-noon.
Asheville City Market South 3 Town Square Park, Biltmore Town Square, South Asheville, Apr.-Oct. Wed. noon-4.
East Asheville Tailgate Market 954 Tunnel Rd.,at Groce United Methodist Church, East Asheville, May-Sep. Fri. 3-6,
French Broad Co-Op Wednesday Tailgate Market 90 Biltmore Ave., Downtown Asheville, Apr.-Nov. Wed. 2-6.
North Asheville Tailgate Market Parking Lot P-28, University of North Carolina at Asheville, North Asheville, Apr.-Nov. Sat. 8-noon.
Oakley Farmers Market 12 Old. Charlotte Hwy. at Highland Brewing, South Asheville, May-Sep. Thurs. 3:30-630.
River Arts District Tailgate Market 175 Clingman Ave. next to All Souls Pizza, River Arts District, May-Nov. Wed. 3-6.
Weaverville Farmers Market 76 Monticello Rd. at Reems Creek Nursery, Weaver-ville, Apr.-Oct., Wed. 2:30-6.
West Asheville Tailgate Market 718 Haywood Rd. at Grace Baptist Church, West Asheville, Apr.-Nov. Tues. 3:30-6:30.
WNC Farmers Market 570 Brevard Rd., West Asheville, year-round daily 24-hours a day (sections of market close at 6 pm, but some individual standards are open 24/7)
ASHEVILLE SOUVENIRS AND MOMENTOS
The most meaningful souvenirs and mementos of Asheville and the mountains are locally and hand-produced items, including crafts, art, books and food and drink.
At or near the top of the list for souvenirs has to be crafts. The Asheville area is a nationally known center for crafts, especially pottery and ceramics, woodworking, basketry and fabric crafts, especially quilts. You’ll want to start your search either at some of the Downtown Asheville craft galleries and malls, or at the studios and galleries the River Arts District.
You can find collectible pottery starting from around $25 to $100, though some pieces sell for much more. Asheville, especially the River Arts District, and the sur-rounding area, especially near Penland School, has literally scores of talented potters, including many whose work is known nationally and is in museum collections.
In the Downtown galleries and River Arts District working studios also are many examples of hand-made wood crafts, both furniture and functional small pieces. Many are made from local cherry, maple, hickory, oak and black walnut woods.
Hand-made quilts have become highly collectible in recent decades. Prices often run into the thousands for fine examples of hand-made and antique quilts. The Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway is a good place to begin looking at quilts, but some crafts galleries Downtown also have fine quilts.
The Asheville Quilt Show is held annually, usually in late September, at the WNC Ag Center (1301 Fanning Bridge Rd. Fletcher, 828-687-1414; www.mountainfair.org), across from the Asheville Regional Airport. You can expect to see 300 to 400 quilts on display. The Asheville Quilt Guild (www.ashevillequiltguild.org) is an organization of more than 300 local quilters. It sponsors the annual Asheville Quilt Show and holds other exhibitions and meetings. The Guild meets at the Folk Art Center in Asheville every third Tuesday of the month, unless otherwise announced. Meetings are at 10 am on odd-numbered months and at 7 pm on even-numbered months. Public is welcome.
The Asheville area has about two dozen fabric and quilting shops, most of which can refer you to local quilters.
The national Alliance for American Quilts (www.quiltalliance.org) is based in Asheville.
Baskets, especially those made by Cherokee craftspeople, are another highly collectible category. Fine modern and antique examples of basketry can cost many hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual (645 Tsali Blvd., Cherokee, 828-497-3103; www.quallaartsandcrafts.com) displays and sells museum-quality work in baskets and other local Native American crafts.
Asheville has many fine artists working in all mediums. Local galleries display and sell their works.
Local mountain foods are another excellent idea for souvenirs of Asheville. Con-sider locally made jams, jellies, preserves and canned vegetables. Local honey is an-other great souvenir, especially the sourwood honey found in few places except the Southern Appalachians. Sourwood honey is very light in color and has a delicate taste. Sourwood trees typically bloom in June and July in the mountains, so sourwood honey shows up in July or August.
Be sure to buy from a reputable honey producer or retailer, as other light honeys, such as black locust (which is produced by honeybees in May), is sometimes passed off for sourwood. Because of its rarity, sourwood honey costs more than most other honeys, retailing for around $20 a quart.
The WNC Farmers Market ((570 Brevard Rd., Asheville West, 828-253-1691) is a good place to buy sourwood honey, along with many locally put up jellies and vegeta-bles. Opening in fall 2020 at the Farmers Market is a 5,000 commercial kitchen com-plex that will be used as a training and food business incubation center.
Also visit local tailgate markets, usually held weekly at various locations around Asheville. (See Tailgate Markets above.)
If you’re a gardener, Sow True Seeds (243 Haywood St., Downtown Asheville, 828-254-0708, www.sowtrueseed.com) has more than 500 varieties of heirloom, open-pollinated, GMO-free and organic vegetable, herb and flower seeds, some of them unique to the Western North Carolina area. The retail store is usually open daily except Sunday (hours vary seasonally). Sow True Seed also has paper and online catalogs.
For local and regional books, check out Malaprop’s or one of the other bookstores listed above.
Local beers, wines and liquors are other items to consider taking back home. Look for local craft beers and wines that may not be available in your hometown. Bilt-more is by far the best-known winery in the region, but there are many other small local winemakers in the mountains. Beers and ales from Pisgah, Catawba, Wedge, High-land, Green Man and Wicked Weed are among the interesting local breweries.
Moonshine is produced legally several local distilleries. Asheville Distilling (12 Old Charlotte Hwy., 828-575-2000, www.troyandsons.com) is one that distills and sells legal moonshine made from locally grown heirloom white corn. For more information see the Beer and also the Wineries and Distilleries sections.
Local gems and minerals also make good souvenirs of your trip to Asheville. The area has many gem mines where you can dig or pan for precious and semi-precious gems. Some are tourist traps, and some are not.
If you’re a baseball fan, check out the souvenir shop at McCormick Field, (30 Bu-chanan Place, Downtown Asheville, 828-259-5800, www.asheville.tourists.milb.com), home of the Asheville Tourists minor league team (a Single A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.)
Photographs of your trip help bring back memories that last forever. You’ll find amazing photographic opportunities on the Blue Ridge Parkway, in the Great Smokies, on the Biltmore Estate, in Downtown Asheville and all over the Western North Carolina region.
Asheville has several chocolate shops and bistros. (A chocolate bistro, now that’s a great concept!) Most aren’t touristy candy shoppes such as you find in Gatlinburg but serious chocolatiers that make sophisticated chocolates and other confections from imported cacao and other high-quality ingredients.
Asheville Chocolate (25 Broadway St., Downtown Asheville, 828-505-8596, www.avlchocolate.com) has Belgian chocolate truffles, gelato, hot chocolate and other desserts.
✷ Chocolate Fetish (36 Haywood St., Downtown Asheville, 828-258-2353, www.chocolatefetish.com), the original European-style chocolate store in Asheville, is famous for its truffles, with more than 30 dozen different varieties. In season there are chocolate-dipped local fruits like blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. Also you can buy novelties such as chocolate cowboy boots or high-heeled shoes. Though perhaps not as popular as the French Broad Chocolate Lounge (below), Chocolate Fetish arguably has as good or even better chocolates. It has won many national and local awards for its chocolate creations.
✷ French Broad Chocolate Lounge (10 South Pack Square, Downtown Asheville, 828-252–4181, www.frenchbroadchocolates.com) moved to a large, higher profile location on Pack Square, where you can sit, sip a glass of pinot noir or a cup of coffee or tea and sample the handmade chocolates and liquid sipping truffles. It’s open daily from late morning to late night. At prime times, there’s almost always a line out the door. Or you can just buy chocolates to go at the Chocolate Boutique next door.
French Broad Chocolate Factory (821 Riverside Drive, 828-348-5169), where the company makes its popular sweets, is open for public tours. Tour costs range from $3 to $12 per person. Best to call ahead for 30- or 60-minute reservations, although walk-ins usually can get a short tour. French Broad Chocolate also operates French Broad Chocolate Cookies & Creamery (21 Buxton Ave., South Slope, Downtown Asheville, 828-348-5323) featuring ice cream, brownies, cookies and beer floats.
Kilwins Chocolate Fudge and Ice Cream (26 Battery Park Ave., Downtown Ashe-ville, 828-782-3912, www.kilwins.com) is a chain candy store that sells fudge, choco-lates, ice cream and other sweets. There also are Kilwins shops in Black Mountain and Hendersonville.
Lindt Chocolate Shop (Asheville Outlets, 800 Brevard Rd., West Asheville, 828-670-9889, www.lindtusa.com) is a factory outlet store at Asheville Outlets.
All content copyright © Lan Sluder except selected photographs used by permission and brief quotations or other fair use text, which are owned by the copyright holder.
We have made every effort to confirm the accuracy of information on this website, and in the Amazing Asheville book and ebooks, but travel information is subject to frequent change, and no warranty is made, express or implied. Please notify us of any errors or omissions, and we will attempt to correct them as soon as possible. All opinions expressed are those of the author, Lan Sluder, unless otherwise noted.