Saturday, April 24, 2010

On the Road Again... da da da da da On the Road Again...

Asheville is fiercely local: if a restaurant can get its supplies from a local farmer or grocer, it will; if a bar can provide beer brewed just down the street, it will. Apparently, fifty or so years ago, its downtown dried up. Businesses left. The city was in debt. As it paid down the debt, big chains like J. C. Penny's and Sears wanted to set up shop. But Asheville decided, no, it would develop with its own artisans and shops. Because of its location (in the middle of some gorgeous country), the city had no trouble attracting people to move and live there. And over the decades, it has built a sustainable and vibrant community that supports locally-owned businesses.

(At least, this is what was explained to me midway through a brewery tour, complete with samples.)

I'm back in Cincinnati. It's hard not to feel some melancholy over what our city could be were its citizens as adamant about having locally-owned businesses over chain stores and chain restaurants. We spend millions of dollars trying to attract Nordstrom's downtown, as if that's the key to revitalizing the area. The suburbs have their chains. They have their boutique shops and malls with everything. Department stores aren't going to cause them to drive downtown.

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