What is “Asheville local” is the question? I mean we can get so gung ho local that common sense and reality is not taken into thought. For example, Atlanta Bread Company is not a “local franchise,” but they do employ local people and even shop locally for many of their ingredients. Sure, just like any franchise they send a certain percentage (I believe it is 7%) of THEIR PROFITS to the corporation, but why is that our business? They pay their taxes, allow local Asheville families to live on the pay they make from working there, and support their local community. Can we not buy Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, Urban Outfitters, Dunkin Donuts, or eat at Red Lobster because they are not an Asheville based homegrown business? Please! Of course we can.
Asheville… How local can you go? Let’s take a local business for example: Is the building they are doing business in locally built, with local materials, and run by locally grown people? Are the building materials made “Here in Asheville?” Did we make sure that no “Out of Towners” helped build it? Is everyone that is working in the store “Born and Raised” in Asheville NC? Oh, well maybe we are not so locally independent after all?! Is the a new form of the “Good Ole Boys Club” mentality being played on to exclude others and to promote superiority? Or is it just another carefully planned sales pitch being forced upon us?
What about the local music scene in Asheville? Are we not supposed to be supportive of other musicians that come to our area to perform? Then on the same note, should other US Cities not support music artists from Asheville when they go on tour outside AVL? Should people from other areas shun any products for sale that are from the Asheville area because it is not local to them? Of course not!! If AVL people should not shop anywhere that is not “Ultra Local,” then in all fairness, maybe non-AVL people should not shop the local stores? How dare these “foreigners” come in MY LOCAL Asheville shop? This place is for MY PEOPLE! Go shop on your own turf and dine among your own people! “We survive locally!!!” We sometimes think. Hahahaha… Bad idea again! We do not (and could not) live to ourselves.
When can the local Asheville flag become ridiculous? What about when a restaurant goes out of business because they cannot stay competitive and make a profit while paying 50% more to have the “ultra local” stamp of approval on them. Should they just make it all local or die? How inhuman of you to think like that! But the locally grown and farm raised food (and local craft beer) tastes so much better and may be healthier! Yes, and it does to many of us also; but there may be others who may be willing to forfeit a little “taste” to put food on the table 5 nights instead of 3. Maybe not! On the other side of the coin, some rather go out to eat one time a month instead of 3 to make sure they have the “very local best” on their plate. We as people should be able to decide for ourselves, according to our budgets and preferences, and come to a fair decision on our own. Yes, if I can pay a similiar price for a local product of about the same of better quality, then bring it. If you want to sell me something for twice the price and half the quality, then I may just tell you to keep it. When it is labeled Asheville and it is comparable, by all means BUY IT!!! But, a sensible buying decision has to be made, whether the economy is good or bad; and whether it is local or imported.
Pride in being Asheville local and homegrown is cool… sort of a nice supportive community tone. But, when that tone becomes selfish, inconsiderate of others and does not take the whole big picture into view; it could end up hurting Asheville, other good businesses, and the local peeps & families behind them.
Oh… we personally tend to eat and shop AVL Local just about ALL of the time. But so what… even that does not make us better than anyone else. There are always 2 or more sides to the story. It is just a choice we have made. Asheville… How Local Can You Really Go?
***Also See Part 2