Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Walbucks Takeover of North Asheville

(Crossposted from Edgy Mama)

I was astounded to see a Starbucks kiosk upon walking into the N. Asheville Ingles yesterday. It looks like a 21st century spaceship set down in a 1960s era grocery store. Three days before, there were card tables laden with sale items and large bags of candy where now stands a shiny dark wood and deep green altar to the great god java.

Within blocks of my morphing grocery store, a local Ace Hardware franchise that's been there for years is about to be taken over by Walgreen's. Another fancy drug store sits where once was a charming, slightly decrepit doughnut shop. A giant CVS has replaced the Auto Parts store (we seem to be needing lots o' drugs here in N. Asheville--6 phamacies within about 4 blocks).

All this "renovation" has occurred within a mile of my home within the past four years. Some change is good, I think, but this change is too much, too soon. Too many small local businesses are going under to big box retailers.

Despite the fact that we live in the PNAV (posh North Asheville villa--that's a joke, btw), I'm not sure I want North Asheville to become more posh than it already is. I want it to retain its funkiness, its rough edges, its local flavor.

But I've been pegged. Because as much as I'd like to avoid Starbucks, I know I'll be there, buying a skim latte, before purchasing my bananas, popsicles, and pasta.

4 comments:

Huw Raphael said...

Safeway (grocers) had the *$ in their stores in SF (etc).

At least Mc Donald's is only doing this at Wally World :-)

Screwy Hoolie said...

Don't do it! Step away from the Latte...

Unless you actually really secretly truly want the Starbucks, Port City, polished corporate consumerist standardized uniformity. Sounds like you want both, and that's the problem with the chains. You can't have both. Not on the same street.

syntax said...

i'm curious...

i haven't heard anything about port city java refusing to serve fair trade coffee on demand, and i haven't heard anything about their political contribution trend (assuming that they're not an apolitical company), or radical expansion plans (they're expanding, sure, but 47 locations nationwide, mostly in north carolina, does not even come close to the imprint that starbucks has made on the landscape)...

aside from them being a "corporate-branded chain", and a very small one at that, is there something about port city java that i should know about before i get my next venti red eye there?

personally, as a north asheville kind of guy myself, i actually like the pcj location on merrimon better than what was there before - an abandoned gas station with broken windows and covered with grafitti.

Edgy Mama said...

I spend quite a bit of time at PCJ, Syntax. The franchises in Asheville are owned by Charles Carter, former Democratic state senator and a good guy.

PCJ does sell organic and free-trade coffee, and yes, the site is much improved since its graffiti-laden gas station days.