A shopaholic’s guide to Asheville, North Carolina

Shane Mitchell
08 September 2016

The laid-back town of Asheville has been gaining a hip status over the years with its thriving foodie scene, craft microbreweries and quirky street culture. Shane Mitchell shares her guide to Asheville’s best boutiques

Bow and Arrow
Designer Anna Toth opens her bespoke clothing boutique on the top floor of Wedge Studios in the River Arts District by appointment. She employs a vintage sewing machine to produce custom denim jeans and other apparel woven from organic Southern cotton. Her Conestoga chore coat evokes Willa Cather and Prairie Home Companion.
Where? 129 Roberts Street

Gallery Mugen
Originally from Osaka, ceramics master Akira Satake – whose work has appeared in shows at the Smithsonian and Philadelphia Museum – opened an exhibition space in Asheville’s River Arts District, where he displays wood-fired large format sculpture and more functional, but handsomely earthy, Kohiki teapots and cups, all produced in his North Carolina kiln. At Gallery Mugen, Satake collaborates with Cynthia Pierce of Yuzu Patisserie, so after browsing the ceramics stick around for a slice of matcha cake with black sesame crumble and a soothing cup of Tama-ryokucha tea imported from Kyushu. 
Where? 122 Riverside Drive

Lexington Glassworks
In their converted garage studio, glass artists Billy Guilford and Geoffrey Koslow create custom lighting and hand-blown home décor accent pieces, but the real prizes to haul home are their crackle-finish decanters and whiskey tumblers finished with silver leaf, ideally suited for sipping aged Southern bourbon.  
Where? 81 South Lexington Avenue

Old North
Owner Jack Roche stocks his menswear shop with clothing, accessories and grooming products for hipsters who appreciate retro-cool brands such as Redwing, Kapital, Filson, and Norman Porter. This is also the place for made-in-America Gitman Brothers button down shirts and Raleigh Denim jeans. In addition, he carries labels for women, Moscot sunglasses and art book titles.
Where? 15 West Walnut Street

Penland School of Crafts
This venerable school – an hour outside Asheville – opened in 1929 to preserve vanishing Appalachian craft traditions, and is a worthy detour into the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains for collectors of handcrafted artworks. The Penland gallery is one of the region’s finest showcases for contemporary weaving, sculpture, jewelry, and mixed media. 
Where? 3135 Conley Ridge Road

A multidisciplinary design firm founded by Rob and Karie Reinertson, who work on commissions ranging from tree houses to rugged, functional leather handbags. They regularly host retail pop-ups at the Center for Craft Creativity and Design with other Asheville-based designers, including a recent collaboration with Natalie Pollard of Villagers on a handsome ‘wildcrafting’ canvas tool bag. 

This attractive kitchen and garden store caters to those who have a green thumb or wish to develop one. Owner Natalie Pollard has a master’s degree in landscape architecture. She offers workshops on woodland foraging, beekeeping, and herbal medicine. The store shelves are stocked with classic DIY utensils and books for pickling, canning, fermenting, and gardening projects. Musts include Womanswork goatskin gloves, Haws copper watering cans, and amusing little beeswax candles shaped like morel mushrooms.
Where? 278 Hay Road

Woodrow Instrument Company
Asheville is a major concert stop on most folk and country music tours. Headliners like Lady Antebellum seek out luthier Dan Williams, who crafts one-of-a-kind guitars, dulcimers, ukuleles and other twangy string instruments suited to that high lonesome Appalachian sound. His Woodrow series includes The Rambler, a lightweight, black walnut mandolin Williams recommends for road trips.
Where? Grove Arcade, One Page Avenue