Page 1

Hopey & Company

Growing a Grocery Business p.10


Funny Business

Puts their Money Where the Mic Is p.50

The Free Spirit Of Enterprise

Privately held, but community owned A selection of bakeries in Western North Carolina p.28

colu m ns

Getting the Media’s Attention the Right Way p. 20 Meditation at Work p. 58

Volume V - Edition III complimentary edition


Exit Strategy: What do you Know about Advance Directives? p. 74 March 2015

Caring for


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The Free Spirit Of Enterprise

publisher & editor

Oby Morgan


associate publisher

Jeffrey Green contributing editors

Leslee Kulba, Dasha O. Morgan, Brenda Murphy contributing writers & photogr aphers

Marie Bartlett, Wendy K. Coin, M.D., Jackie Dobrinska, Garrett Gourley, Anthony Harden, Kathleen McCafferty, Roger McCredie, Jim Murphy, Sadrah Schadel, Toni Sherwood gr aphic designer

Hanna Trussler marketing & advertising Kathryn Dillow, David Morgan, Katrina Morgan, Pat Starnes

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Capital At Play is protec ted through Tr ademar k Regis tr ation in the United States. The content found within this publication does not necessar ily ref lec t the views of Univer sal Media , Inc. and its companies. Univer sal Media , Inc. and its employees are not liable for any adver tising or editor ial content found in Capital At Play. The ar ticles, photogr aphy, and illus tr ations found in Capital at Play may not be reproduced or used in any fashion without express wr it ten consent by Univer sal Media , Inc.



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| March 2015

a handcarved r aven ,

part of the eclectic Pagan/ Wiccan gift collection at Raven & Crone. (According to Norse legend, the god Odin keeps two ravens who fly daily around the world, then return to light on his shoulders and tell him the news.) photo by Anthony Harden See page 64

F E AT U R E S vol. v



ed. iii





March 2015 | capitalatplay.com



m a r c h 2 015

Fig tarts and chocolate covered strawberries by Karen Donatelli, photo by Audrey Goforth




 akeries in B Western NC Privately held, but community owned

Get Out and Go Dancing

Tap your toes, shake a leg, get down, and groove with it

 ownhill D Longboarding

colu m ns



lo c a l i n d u s t r y

20 G etting the Media’s

Attention the Right Way Written by Kathleen McCafferty

58 M  editation at Work

Written by Jackie Dobrinska

l e i s u r e & l i b at i o n

24 Carolina in the West 60 The Old North State 78 National & World News

74 E xit Strategy?

Written by Wendy K. Coin, M.D.

on the cover :

Fresh fruit tarts at Well-Bred Bakery, photo by Aurelia D’Amore 8

| March 2015

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Growing a Grocery

Business: The Hopeys acquired Nirvana years ago, but their dream is bigger than that written by toni sherwood photos by anthony harden


| March 2015

Danette and Troy Hopey, owners of Hopey and Company

March 2015 | capitalatplay.com



| March 2015


OPEY & COMPANY, a local grocery chain with three locations and a warehouse in the Western North Carolina area, is preparing to expand. The building they currently occupy at 45 South French Broad Avenue in downtown Asheville is getting a total makeover. Troy and Charlie Ball of Asheville Distilling Company purchased the building in 2014. Rumor has it that plans for a ‘green’ hotel, additional parking, and a Thai restaurant are among the improvements. Hopey & Company’s expansion plans include a restaurant, additional seating, a butcher shop, and expanded retail. Danette and Troy Hopey have been married for 33 years. They’ve been dreaming of a store like this one since their early days selling coffee beans at the flea market with kids in tow. The downtown location has gone through many transformations since they began selling there in 2009. “The former owners of this property were doing a public market idea, just open on the weekends,” co-owner Troy Hopey recalls. “We had a spot in the middle for six months, and then they asked if we wanted to expand.” Finally occupying their own space in the building, the Hopeys were able to open seven days a week. They went about getting their license to sell beer and wine while trying to meet the March 2015 | capitalatplay.com


needs of the downtown clients. “The community kept asking for different things,” co-owner Danette Hopey says. “We carry the staples so you can come in here and make a meal,” Troy says, “and yet we also try to carry some organic, natural, and gourmet items. We’re sort of a mixture.” Just as the diverse downtown community embraced a local market they could walk to, the building went into bankruptcy, leaving the Hopeys in limbo for the past two years. “We haven’t wanted to do anything other than cosmetic,” Troy explains. “You don’t want to put in a bunch of equipment or try to expand, and then the bank sells the property and says this is going to be a roller derby.” “There were so many stories of what the building might end up being,” Danette recalls. At the same time the bank was grateful to have some expenses deferred, so the Hopeys took a leap of faith and kept the downtown location open on a month-to-month lease.

Just a Dream “We started out at Dreamland,” Troy recalls. Some Asheville locals may remember Dreamland, a drive-in movie theater at the corner of River Road and Tunnel Road where Lowe’s and Walgreens are now. During the day a flea market operated there. “We sold coffee and groceries,” Troy recalls. “My daughters would stand there and grind the coffee.” “Some old preacher told us our dream was going to become a reality,” Danette says. “Then Dreamland closed and we were like, okay, how is that supposed to happen?” Troy’s friend, Doug Hipps, would play a pivotal role in the Hopeys finally owning their own store.


| March 2015

Although they had worked to make Amazing Savings a familiar brand in the area, the store itself had gone through a metamorphosis.

Rachel Abousaid, Sweeten Creek store manager

In 1997 Hipps opened Bargain Max on Sweeten Creek Road in Asheville and hired Troy to manage it for him. “I ran it like it was my own,” Troy says. In 2004 Troy purchased Bargain Max from Hipps and was thrown into the learning curve of owning a store, cutting his teeth on the business of business. “I had to learn a lot about workman’s comp insurance, taxes, and payroll,” Troy recalls. As business owners, the Hopeys formed Shoppers Nirvana LLC, which they continue to operate under. “Somebody gave us the wise advice to use a DBA (doing business as),” Troy says, “so when we bought the business in 2004 we changed the name to Amazing Savings right away.” The same day they purchased the Sweeten Creek location, they opened up a second Amazing Savings in Black Mountain. Although in the state of North Carolina no one else was doing business as Amazing Savings, after their website went up in 2011 they got a surprise. Simply Amazing LLC in New Jersey said Amazing Savings was encroaching on their federal trademark, regardless of the fact that the North Carolina Secretary of State had issued their DBA. Not wanting a legal debate, the Hopeys took the website down immediately. The signs at the brick and mortar stores remained for a while as they debated what to do.

Change In Perception When Bargain Max became Amazing Savings, there was not a huge change in the merchandise. “When we started, we were strictly salvage,” Troy says. “We’d buy close date stuff that had less than 60 days on it. We’d bring it in frozen. We did have produce but not much else. But as we progressed people came in and said we really need bread.” Over time their customer’s request list continued to grow; they wanted milk, eggs, and local produce from the farmer’s market. Customers still wanted competitive pricing, but that wasn’t the only factor driving their demand. “In the economic crisis of 2008, as tight as things were financially, people were time-leveraged,” Troy observed. “There were not enough hours in the day. I mean we have all these devices and we have less time than we’ve ever had before.” Customers wanted a one-stop shop where they could purchase everything they needed, from food items to staples like laundry detergent and toilet paper. To entice customers to come in regularly, they needed to reinvent themselves. The name Amazing Savings was not the best representation of the changes already in motion. The family debated things, with the kids strongly against using their own surname. “They were like, we’ll never be able to go anywhere Mom,” Danette says. But Dad uncovered one very good reason to convince them. “I found out you can’t trademark a family name,” Troy says, “so I’m not going to get a letter from somebody one day that says: ‘We’re the Hopeys; we’ve trademarked it.’” After the last store name debacle, a sense of security was appealing. March 2015 | capitalatplay.com


“New Year’s Eve we decided,” Danette recalls, “before the ball fell we said, ‘Let’s do it.’” So as 2012 dawned, Hopey & Company was born. But even today they continue to educate the public regarding what their new store name is all about, with some wondering if they sold the business or if some negative thing spurned the change. “‘Oh, they sold out,’ that’s the easiest one to dispel,” Troy admits, “but it’s, ‘Oh, you changed, what happened?’ People don’t like change. We are creatures of habit. If anything changes it does tend to freak people out.” As the company has moved away from the salvage market, many things have changed, including collaborating with local farmers to get eggs, honey, fresh produce,


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Simply Amazing LLC in New Jersey said Amazing Savings was encroaching on their federal trademark, regardless of the fact that the North Carolina Secretary of State had issued their DBA. milk, and meats. “When we first started out we’d get three or four trucks a week,” Troy says, “and now, if you count all the small deliveries and the local vendors that come, we get 50 or 60 deliveries. So we have changed that. And now the thing of course is to change the perception.” In fall of 2014, the Hopeys signed a lease for the downtown location, and now their expanded vision can fully kick into gear.

Dividing Up The Work Their son-in-law, Joseph Abousaid, is the district manager, handling the day-to-day operations. He calls the repairman when equipment breaks down and also handles the weekly flyer, deciding what to put on special. 16

| March 2015

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Each of their three daughters, Rachel, Heather, and Esther, manage a store in conjunction with a non-family member who partners with them. Danette’s brother, Matt Dantone, manages the warehouse with another non-family partner. They also have two sons, Daniel, 25, and Joseph, 14. “If I had to describe my job,” Troy says, “I would say I work more with the numbers, the insurance, the accounting, the bookkeeping.” “He does all the things I hate to do,” Danette adds. Danette handles marketing and design aspects of the stores. Troy admits if it were up to him the shelves would be full but probably not very attractive. Danette’s focus is the feel ing people have when they come into the store and their ability to flow through the space and find items easily. Many couples would find working together to be difficult, but the Hopeys thrive on it and obviously they’ve found a system that works. “We just choose to keep working at it,” Danette says of their relationship.

But one type of employee they hire may surprise people. The Hopeys cooperate with a workrelease program run by the State of North Carolina that helps female inmates transition back into society.


| March 2015

Both admit their personal life is a tapestry deeply interwoven with the business, and the key to making it work is mutual respect and trust, and a sense of humor. “Danette has her area of expertise and I respect that,” Troy says. “When she says, ‘This is the look we’re going for and this is what I really want,’ I say I trust you. And then when I say, ‘This is what our budget is for advertising,’ she says, ‘I wish it was twice as much, but I trust you.” They also admit to some impassioned ‘spats,’ but see conflict as the natural result of two people looking at problems through different angles rather than as a sign of trouble. “I love working together. We love to fight and work together,” Danette says. “But you have to fight for the right things.”

Amazing Employees On a typical day at the store, Danette can be spotted stocking shelves, and Troy unloading a pallet of frozen goods as it arrives. In this way they hope to inspire employees and make them feel like part of a team. “When you have happy employees that translates to the customers,” Troy says. “That’s the thing that gets under my skin more than anything: making a customer feel like an intrusion. I want our customers to feel welcome and appreciated.” The key to great employees could be choosing the right people in the first place. “It’s got to be somebody who likes retail, somebody who likes the public,” Troy says. Over the years the Hopeys have attracted many different types of employees. Some decide to move up in the company, while others approach it as a bridge job while working their way through nursing school, culinary school, or other training,

But Danette felt these women deserved a chance. “Some of their domestic situations were not that good,” Danette explains, “and some of them took the fall.” The Hopeys could relate to the idea of second chances. “We’re kind of a second chance store anyway,” Danette jokes. “We feel like we have a second chance.” The downtown store signifies a new start for the Hopeys. For the first time ever they are applying for a loan with the Small Business Administration. Formerly they’ve self-funded as they grew. But the downtown location is a much bigger commitment, and they need money to purchase equipment and do the construction needed. Yet even as they continue to expand, they have never forgotten the struggle it took to get there. “When you compare yourself to other people of course you can always find a way to say ‘I’m better than’ or ‘I’m not as good as,’” Troy says, “but when you compare yourself to yourself, and say hey, we started living in a single wide trailer just working two hourly jobs, you see where you were and how far you’ve come.” They were both preachers’ kids, and coincidentally their grandfathers were both in the grocery business; Danette’s in Ohio and Troy’s in Key West. They grew their business out of necessity while raising five kids, and yet their passion for the business is as vibrant today as if they were just beginning. “This is a big step for us,” Troy admits. “It may not be a big step for everybody, but for us this is big.”

On The Horizon Danette Hopey

eventually going on to fulfill their passion. But one type of employee they hire may surprise people. The Hopeys cooperate with a work-release program run by the State of North Carolina that helps female inmates transition back into society. Through this program, the inmates are allowed to work in the public sector while still incarcerated. Typically, the inmate crewmembers are within a couple years of their release date when they enter the program. They are transported to and from work and must follow all the rules to participate, such as no smoking and no cell phone usage. Although inmate’s salaries must first go towards paying off any restitution, the benefits of holding a job exceed financial compensation for these ladies. The Hopeys thought very carefully before deciding to participate in the program three years ago. While some business owner’s first concerns would have been, ‘Is this worth the trouble?’ Danette and Troy had other questions. ‘Are we just puffing ourselves up?’ Danette remembers asking herself. “Yeah is this just something you add to a resume, ‘Hey I volunteer,’” Troy says, “or even worse than that, is this something that exploits these folks?”

The building at 45 South French Broad is situated between the River Arts District and the bustling downtown tourist section. The Hopeys foresee plenty of future growth potential as Asheville continues to expand. Both their Black Mountain and Sweeten Creek locations have attracted new businesses to open nearby. “We said if we could put something similar to what we have in Black Mountain at the downtown location—a butcher shop, a café, and a grab-and-go, then a lot of folks would be able to come in and eat lunch or dinner,” Troy says. A pizza oven, beer and wine tastings, and expanded seating are among the plans for the downtown location. With shelves already stocked with over 400 beer labels, including local microbrews, fresh local food items, like Roots Hummus, honey, meats, and artisan Walnut Creek cheese from Ohio, Hopey & Company are gearing up for long-term success. But Troy knows they may have some bumps in the road as they expand. “You know the change, the construction, it’s going to take some time,” Troy says. “It’s going to be a work in progress. But we are trying to stay open during the construction and continue to serve the community.” Danette says, “we’re kind of like Christmas everyday to a lot of the customers who say, ‘I could never afford this, I could never try this at other places, and now I get the luxury of keeping my budget and I get to try all of these amazing different foods.’”

March 2015 | capitalatplay.com 19

Getting the Media’s Attention


k athleen is

the PR, Content & Community Outreach Specialist for JB Media Group. She holds an MFA in writing.

The Right Way



NE OF THE GOALS of establishing or growing a business is building brand awareness by getting your story in front of new potential customers. After all, only those that know about you can buy from you. The question then, is how do you do that? Media coverage is a great way to gain exposure, but like most things in business it’s easier said than done. The number one complaint I hear from friends working in the media is getting poorly written press releases for topics they don’t even cover. That’s a surefire way to get your email deleted in a hot second! To avoid getting tossed into the digital trashcan, make sure you’re presenting your news in a way that’s simple, clear, and easy-to understand, and that you’re sending it to the right people. A reporter’s goal is to craft timely, relevant stories to engage and grow their audience. Like everyone these days, reporters are busier than ever and are constantly bombarded with emails. So how do you make your media request stand out? In short, you have to give a reporter exactly what they need. Nothing more, nothing less. If you can put a newsworthy story in front 20

| March 2015

of them that they want to cover, give them all the pieces of information that they need—essentially hand off a “print-ready” piece—then you’re making their lives easy, and making them look good in the process.

Crafting Your News

To share your news with the media, you’ll need to write a press release, and when you write a release it should sound like an actual, print-worthy news article. To get at the heart of the matter—the pulse of your news—consider the distinct selling points of what you’re communicating, be it your company, your products, or your customer base. What problem are you attempting to solve? What are the most compelling elements of your story? What quotes or testimonials can you offer to support your claims? What excites you the most about what you’re trying to convey? Start there and see where it takes you. If you’re not pumped about your press release, it will be hard to get anyone else interested in it. When your press release is ready, publish it using a press release distribution service like PitchEngine. It’s basically a


reporter’s dream, and I can’t recommend it enough. These services provide a handy, clickable link to your release (no attachments!), with a host of well-designed formats that include downloadable, high-res images. The days of stodgy press release attachments are over, and more often than not, they can get you stuck in a Spam filter, which leads to nowhere, fast.

Uncovering Pitch Angles

With your press release in place, it’s time to figure out ways to get your story picked up, and here’s where your pitch angle comes in. A pitch angle is a particular slant on the news you’re sharing. It’s the “juice” of your news release, and it can be catered to a specific audience or outlet. To illustrate the process of uncovering different pitch angles, I’ll use an example. I recently managed a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for a local company with a unique food product. The company, Smiling Hara Tempeh, wanted to launch a new product line, “Hempeh,” which is soy-free tempeh fortified with hemp seeds. To source the beans and hemp for Hempeh, they planned to partner with Growing Warriors, a veteran-owned and operated farm in Kentucky—a fortuitous partnership that made their campaign really stand out. For the press release, I lead with the news: the K ickstarter launch, the unveiling of the new product, the partnership with Growing Warriors, and the fundraising goal of $20,000. (I’m happy to report that by the end of the campaign we exceeded the funding goal by over 25%.) As for pitch angles, we wanted to cast as wide a net as possible, to get the story picked up in as many outlets as possible, and so we explored as many different story angles as we could think of. In the end, our pitch angles touched on the following themes: healthy cooking, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free lifestyles, veteran farming programs, the changing laws around growing hemp, and the superfood benefits of hemp. Smiling Hara Tempeh is a small family-owned business, so other potential story angles

Sometimes you’ll get bites right away. When I pitched Smiling Hara Tempeh to an editor at a popular national food magazine, I received a reply within five minutes.

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included small business development, the trials and tribulations of running a small business, overcoming obstacles to grow a small business—all of that good stuff. Now that we had our story angles sussed out it was time to find media outlets and journalists who would be interested in picking up the story.

Finding the Right Reporters

Finding the right reporters to cover your story is one part research, one part determination, and one part sheer luck when it comes to what’s trending. With a simple Google News Search you can find the latest news stories on the topics you want to pitch by reporters who may be interested in your story, too. The same goes for Google Blog Search. When you type in a keyword or phrase (like “tempeh”) it will pull up bloggers covering those topics. If you want to stay up to date on a keyword, like I needed to for “tempeh” during the Kickstarter campaign, you can set up a Google Alert to capture any news mentions that pop up on that keyword. Using Google is a great way to find media leads for outreach, but it’s not without its challenges. Not all reporters list their contact info, which can make it difficult to track them down. One way around this, if your company has the means, is to


| March 2015

subscribe to a service like Cision—a massive database that includes over 1.6 million contacts for outlets, journalists, bloggers, and social influencers who can tell your story. In just a couple of clicks, you can build a media list by topic, outlet, media type, and region, and in some cases you can even track down a reporter’s contact info in a matter of seconds. If a media database isn’t an option, you can find most reporters on Twitter these days. Just be sure to ease into the conversation before you send out a query. A thoughtful, authentic approach will yield greater results than a brash, self-serving request for a direct message.

Ready, Steady, Pitch

Once you’ve laid the groundwork and honed your message, written a clear press release, determined your pitch angles, identified reporters who may be interested in covering your story, and tracked down their contact info, it’s time to introduce yourself. (Phew!) Though you might think it will save time, don’t be tempted to send out email blasts to groups of reporters. Instead, work on sending customized emails to individual reporters with pitch angles that can provide real value for their readers. Offer short, concise reasons for why you think that’s the case, and reference an article of theirs

K you’ve read that supports your reasoning. Keep it short and sweet. Include an intriguing subject line that will compel someone who doesn’t know you to open your email. Then, hit send and see what happens.

on, with grace, and find a better fit. The right reporters will always get back to you; it’s one of those things you have to trust. And in the meantime, you have to keep trying—tweaking your press release, adjusting your pitches, trying out new email subject lines—it’s all part of the process. There’s no exact science for what works and what doesn’t when it comes to pitching your news to the media. It’s more of an experiment, but one that only works with strong, newsworthy content, an understanding of the readership of the person you’re pitching to, and an interesting, customized take on what makes your story stand out. In the words of Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” So keep going until something lands. When you get your first “hit” you’ll have reason to celebrate and you’ll see how quickly you can start building momentum, one media mention at a time.

In the words of Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” So keep going until something lands. Sometimes you’ll get bites right away. When I pitched Smiling Hara Tempeh to an editor at a popular national food magazine, I received a reply within five minutes. Of course there were many, many other emails I sent that never garnered a response. So, you wait and try again. Part of breaking through to the media is knowing when to be persistent and knowing when to back off. I don’t like to be a pest, so my preference is to follow up a day or two later. If I don’t hear anything, I might send one more email a few days later, but after three strikes, I’m out. I’d rather spend my time chasing down new, quality leads. Try not to take it personally if you don’t hear back. Simply move

March 2015 | capitalatplay.com 23



asheville, nc

Yeast manufacturer White Labs has chosen South Charlotte Street in downtown Asheville as the site for its east coast plant. The 26,000-square-foot premises will supply many of the 36 members of the Asheville Brewers Alliance. Part of the allure was a $40,000 performance-based grant, as well as a five-year, $1 lease offer from Buncombe County. Wicked Weed, Oskar Blues, and Hi-Wire breweries already purchase yeast from White Labs. Having a local supplier will lower production costs, as the temperature-sensitive yeast germs must now be packed in dry ice and overnighted from California. The new facility will begin handling logistical operations by August, but the company HunterBanks_CapitalPlay ad.pdf


news briefs

Local yeaster to reduce brewing expenses



flights to regional hubs, rather than trying to be everything to everybody with hundreds of nonstop flights. The second factor is Allegiant Air’s low-cost flights to a number of Florida destinations. Entering the market in 2011, the airline now accounts for one-third of AVL’s passenger traffic. Major carriers Delta, American/US Airways, and United pick up the rest.

does not expect to have its manufacturing facility and tasting room online until 2016. White Labs expects to hire a total of 65 employees, including trained factory workers and biotechnologists.

Resurrection envisioned for Ghost Town maggie valley, nc

Rumor has it that Alaska Presley will soon be in a position to refurbish Ghost Town in the Sky in its entirety. Each year for four decades, the theme park would draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to Maggie Valley. Then, as rides were allowed to fall into disrepair, the park was shuttered in 2002. Ten years later, Presley purchased the foreclosed property for $2.5 million on the courthouse steps. Following the initial investment, she has sunk millions more into repairing old rides and bringing the park up to code. Inspection failures delayed the park’s opening several weeks last

2014 numbers sparkle for AVL fletcher, nc

The Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) reported a record number of annual passengers in 2014. 378,124 enplaned and 378,301 deplaned. Passenger traffic was 11.5 percent higher than in 2013, and 2.3 percent higher than in 2010, the airport’s previous record year. Executive director Lew Bleiweis attributes the increase to two factors. First, the airport has realized efficiencies by providing 10:42 AM

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year, but, in spite of online posts from dissatisfied customers, the park turned a profit for the season. On January 24, Chris Chagnon, the parks general manager and real estate agent, pulled the property’s listing. Presley had put 98 acres up for sale with an asking price of $3 million. No offers excited Chagnon, but now he hints the property may get some unspecified breaks. Presley’s longterm objective is to transform the upper portion of Ghost Town into a Holy Land theme park to be known as Resurrection Mountain. If all goes according to plan, visitors will walk through scenes from the Gospels culminating at the largest cross in the Western Hemisphere.

Hospitals treating Ebola patients with Asheville product asheville, nc

Avadim Technologies, Inc. announced its branching out into international markets. The Asheville-based manufacturer sent its first shipment, 854 cases on eight pallets to Ghana valued at $206,000, fulfilling orders from hospitals and government agencies. Interest



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national & world

in Avadim was sparked after the Eblen Center for Social Enterprise’s Beyond all Borders program partnered with the manufacturer for a goodwill shipment to Liberia in August. Avadim manufactures a line of TheraworxTM products, which are used to treat “hospital-acquired conditions.” In other words, the treatments work to restore the skin’s natural pH, moisture, and antimicrobial properties. TheraworxTM technology is in high demand for comforting victims of the recent Ebola outbreak. CEO Steve Woody says the company’s expansion into international markets is proceeding according to plan.

South Carolina recruits niche cleaner mills river, nc

Clean Streak, Inc. will be opening a second operation in Myrtle Beach. Horace and Susan Adell have been running their green cleaning company in Mills River businesses for fifteen years. Horace boasts 25 years in the business. The couple was looking for a place to open shop in Florida, where they hope to retire, when they were recruited by the South Carolina

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Chamber of Commerce to fill an empty niche. Clean Streak offers a variety of commercial-industrial cleanup services for even salons, medical facilities, moveouts, and construction sites. It also retails a line of Betco green cleaning products.

Moog stays relevant with diversification & marketing asheville, nc

Moog has announced the release of an old line of modular synthesizers. Nowadays, musical keyboards are highly portable, but they produce only a finite number of canned sounds. Moog’s new, limited editions will offer unlimited waveforms. The idea of remarketing the technology started with the development of the (Keith) Emerson Moog Modular System, released in the prog rocker’s honor at last year’s Moogfest. Back in the day, Emerson’s instrument of choice was a wall of circuit board full of knobs and wires. It took Moog engineers three years of research and development to turn the concept into a marketable, albeit high-end, product. With knowledge gained for making a vintage product in

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the modern age, the engineers were equipped to reproduce the company’s old System 55, System 35, and Model 15 synths. Moog marketers posit that these products, though a necessary stage in the evolution of electronic music, were somewhat ahead of their time. Advances in technology have rendered their versatility accessible to a new generation of musicians who demand precision and control in the arts. As a special touch, the products will be built off the original schematics and crafted in the old-fashioned way, with “hand-stuffing and hand-soldering.” Only ten of each instrument will be manufactured and sold at five-digit prices. An artistic promo now runs on YouTube to get potential buyers in the Moog.

Despite barley problems, local brewers promise consistency buncombe county, nc

Too much rain in Idaho and Montana last year has brewers on alert. High summer heavy rains caused barley crops to sprout early. In Twin Falls County alone, five inches of rain, in unseasonably humid weather right before harvest, destroyed the crops of about 500 farmers. Crops have been rejected by buyers, with some of them fit for sale at half-price as cattle feed. The farmers have filed for a federal disaster declaration. 3,200 brewers in the country are now competing for a substantially reduced supply. Spokespersons for the three dozen breweries in Western North Carolina have different outlooks. Most buy under contract. While all assure they won’t be passing the cheap stuff along to their customers, some may be passing along increases in the cost of brewing. What isn’t purchased at a premium domestically can be obtained with import costs from Canada or Europe. Brewers at Hi-Wire say they are 26

| March 2015

already noticing a difference in some of their specialty malts. They intend to do what it takes to maintain quality and eat the cost increases. Other brewers are less concerned about increasing price. They recall how, in 2007, they survived weather damage and then a stockpile fire that seriously affected hops’ prices.

Ingles’ stock hockey sticks, owners cite only steady progress black mountain, nc

Ingles Markets stock (IMKTA), had been hunkering between $20 and $30 a share for most of 2014. Then, the trading value hockey-sticked for reasons analysts still aren’t fathoming. It hit an all-time high of $48.30 in January. Values were down to $44.21 right before the annual shareholders’ meeting. With Publix supermarkets entering the Asheville area, stock watchers published rumors about a potential merger, or at least a shakeup in management. Those claims held no water with locals, who saw no abatement in Ingles’ advertising and community involvement. Rather than mentioning stock at all, leadership at the shareholders’ meeting focused on the company’s 50 consecutive years of sales growth. The stock’s performance, increasing 26 percent in a year, caught the attention of multiple national investment watchers like Zacks, Seeking Alpha, and the Motley Fool. Ingles owns 202 stores in six states, and it plans to add one more, in Enka, and remodel 15 to 20 other locations this year.

McConnell country clubs branch west asheville, nc

McConnell Golf acquired the County Club of Asheville (CCA). It will become the outfit’s eleventh course in the

Carolinas, but its first in the mountains. Details of the purchase were not made public, but founder and CEO John McConnell said he would invest $4 million in improving the course and the clubhouse. Golfers who join one McConnell club can enjoy the benefits of any other, and McConnell indicated the purchase was motivated by an interest in serving Raleigh members as they vacation out west. The course is located seven minutes from the Omni Grove Park Inn. The course at the inn was formerly run by the CCA; both courses were designed by the historically preeminent Donald Ross. Founded in 1894, the CCA claims to be the oldest private country club in the state; but Cape Fear Country Club in Wilmington challenges the priority, since the CCA has relocated and changed ownership.

High interest in conserving children’s art asheville, nc

Meg Ragland is the first Asheville entrepreneur to receive funding for her startup from Asheville Angels. Ragland’s web site defines the problem her company, Plum Print, solves: The kid’s artwork is beautiful, but it’s building up, and the pantry door is no Smithsonian. Founded in 2012, the company has since sold more than 2,500 coffee table books that conserve and showcase children’s art. Plum Print currently operates online, and was selected for its remarkable growth and potential to become a world-class enterprise. Asheville Angels partnered with other investors in the country, the most notable of which was New York-based Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, to pull together over $100,000 for Plum Print. The funding will support an expansion phase, which will include purchasing better equipment for digitizing art, hiring a junior

developer, and launching a marketing campaign. The company’s senior developer was recruited away from Google. Organized in 2014, Asheville Angels now has twenty-six investors on board seeking recipients in the Southeast for their capital, expertise, and mentoring.

Small hospitals exit birthing business western north carolina

If you’re expecting a baby and you find yourself in Western North Carolina on delivery day, you probably need to head toward a big hospital. Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard has announced it will be closing its birthing unit. President and chief nursing officer Cathy Landis explains the decision was not so much a loss as an expansion of services, and not so much about money as safety. She explained the hospital delivered only 136 babies last year, and it would need at least 300 to attract a neonatologist. The hospital will retain staff for pre- and postnatal services, but Landis believes, with the number of things that can go wrong with a birth, it is best for mothers to deliver at Mission Health. Mission has the only Level III-c neonatal ICU in Western North Carolina. At the same time, Canon Memorial Hospital in Avery County is telling the same story with the announcement of the closure of its New Life Center. Births have been decreasing in the county, and now number fewer than 100 per year. President of Patient Care Services Carmen Lacey described the problem as having too many irons in the fire. While likewise continuing to provide pre- and postnatal services, the hospital will be referring expectant mothers to the Watauga Medical Center for delivery.

March 2015 | capitalatplay.com 27

local industry

Bakeries in Western North Carolina written by jim murphy


everal dozen small art galleries dot the towns and cities of Western North Carolina, hiding in plain sight as they display amazing multimedia works of vibrant color, rich texture— and mouth-watering taste. The galleries are the pastry display cases of our many distinguished bakeries that proclaim their products are made “from scratch.” The bakers who run the small, busy kitchens that produce these pastries, cookies, cakes, breads, and croissants and assorted goodies agree that “from scratch” is the shorthand phrase that elevates their work from the 28

| March 2015

ordinary to the exceptional. “We use only all natural raw ingredients. We don’t use any mixes.” Laura Bogard, general manager of the Well-Bred bakery, explained the meaning of “from scratch,” and the pride that goes with it. “Everything we make starts from flour, butter, sugar, egg whites. Others use mixes,” she says, a touch of professional disdain creeping into her voice. “They’ll use a tub of frosting and cake mix like you get in a box.” Well-Bred is one of several dozen artisan bakeries in Western North Carolina. From Boone to Brevard, from Chimney Rock to

clock wise from far lef t :

Fresh fruit tarts at Well-Bred Bakery, photo by Aurelia D’Amore

‘The Magic Cookie’ by Stick Boy Bakery, photo by Amanda Widis Matthew Hickman at Underground Baking Company, © copyright Woodward & Rick Photographers 2014 Strawberry Crème Cake at Well-Bred Bakery, photo by Aurelia D’Amore Cherokee, bakers are producing breads, cakes, and pastries that reach the highest levels of their craft. On Haywood Street in downtown Asheville, Karen Donatelli designs her pastries in the classical European style, with the flair of an artist and the detail of an architect. She arrives at her shop usually between 5:00 and 6:00am. “But four o’clock is not uncommon,” she says. With her husband, Vince, and sons, Angelo and Vincent, baking is a family affair. They each take up their positions around the long counter-high work table and go to work assembling the day’s product. “I love the early morning quiet,” she says. “It’s the time that I spend with my husband and my boys. We joke around a little bit and it makes the morning go faster. It’s good.” March 2015 | capitalatplay.com 29

clock wise from above :

Cake by Karen Donatelli, photo by Dan Root Wedding Cake by Karen Donatelli, photo by Angela Stott Photography Daniel Goodson at City Bakery, photo by Sadrah Schadel Cinnamon rolls with cream cheese at Stick Boy Bakery, photo by Amanda Widis 30

| March 2015

While she’s talking, Karen is assembling a small multilayered rectangular pastry, adding a fluff of chocolate in one corner, then squeezing a creative squiggle across the top. It appears she’s finished; the pastry looks great. But she’s not done. Not nearly. She goes to a tall metal cupboard with 18 shelves containing trays of various decorations. She pulls a tray of chocolate cylinders, like thin straws, and then a tray of thin, flat shapes, and another of hard chocolate figures that resemble musical G-clef symbols. Continuing the conversation, her hands almost absently place the decorations on the pastry. With each addition, it looks complete, display-case ready. But she continues adding until all the pieces are arranged across the top in a spray of color and shapes that can be described as beautiful—and decadent. After Karen finishes decorating the pastry, her husband, Vince, gives her a quick kiss and, “see you tonight,” as he heads off to his day job as lead instructor in the baking department at A-B Tech. At the same early morning hour, Bill Tellman is in the kitchen of his Bracken Mountain Bakery in Brevard, where he is tending to an oven of bread, croissants, and scones. “A lot of scones,” he says. Bill and his wife, Debbie, are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their bakery, a venture he describes as “probably our most treasured accomplishment.” And at Stick Boy Bakery in Boone, up in the High Country, bread baker Josh Wagner is putting the finishing touches on the morning muffins, buns, scones, and cookies. Pastry chef Brandon Kop will start work later in the morning, supervising his staff making pies, cakes, tortes, and other sweet creations. Meanwhile in Hendersonville, Matthew Hickman is firing

All Natural & All Local DRY AGED, PASTURE-RAISED up the oven in the kitchen of his Underground Baking Company. Matthew and his wife, Lisa, opened Underground in 2009, and in only six years they have doubled their space and become a fixture in their neighborhood. Matthew endorses the “from scratch” concept and stresses that they use 100 percent organic grains in all their baking. He and Lisa have divided their kitchen into two departments: She does the pastries, and he handles the breads and other yeast products. Matthew laughs when he considers their signature product, calling it an accidental specialty. “When Southern Appalachian Brewery moved into the neighborhood, the brewer and I became friends. He kept pushing me to bake some soft pretzels that he could put out at the brewery. Eventually they took off and became our top-selling product, both at the brewery and here in the bakery. We put some unique toppings on them, like spinach artichoke or fresh roasted jalapeños and cheddar cheese. We’ve become known for them.” Back in Asheville, Sarah Resnick presides over a busy kitchen at City Bakery on Biltmore Avenue. The kitchen runs virtually around the clock, with bread chef Daniel Goodson mixing abut 1,200 pounds of dough every day to make more than a dozen varieties of bread, and Sarah producing the cupcakes, pies, and other pastries that are the stars of the display case. The Biltmore Avenue kitchen supplies the City Bakery store on Charlotte Street, as well as the supermarkets and restaurants that make up the bakery’s roster of wholesale clients. The wholesale business is enough to make City Bakery’s retail operation the icing on the cake (pun intended). Ingles, Greenlife, and Earthfare are among several supermarkets that carry City Bakery breads, along with a Who’s Who of regional restaurants: Bouchon, the Lobster Trap, Chestnut, Zambra, the Admiral, and Limones, to name just a few. “Wholesale is important to us,” says general manager Brian Dennehy. “We’re proud to be featured in the best restaurants in Asheville.” But he says they don’t push the wholesale side of the business. “We don’t have a sales person. Going out and getting new business is not something we do often mainly because we’re pretty well maxed out in our kitchen.” Another busy kitchen is at Well-Bred Bakery. After 15 years in Weaverville,

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local industry

clock wise from lower lef t:

Brandon Kop is icing the first layer of a three-tier wedding cake at Stick Boy Bakery, photo by Amanda Widis Peanut butter pie at Well-Bred Bakery, photo by Aurelia D’Amore Carolina Huerta, baking and pastry arts student and Hot Food Team member at A-B Tech, photo courtesy of A-B Tech Apple filo crisp at Well-Bred Bakery, photo by Aurelia D’Amore 32

| March 2015

Well-Bred opened a second shop in Biltmore Village. The Weaverville kitchen supplies both stores, and that’s where general manager Laura Bogard spends most of her time. Sitting in the dining area on a busy weekday lunch hour, Laura expanded on the “from scratch” topic. “You can taste the difference,” she said. “If I bite into an éclair here, it tastes right. We make the pastry cream from scratch.” Her pace began to quicken as she went on. “It’s a mixture of half-and-half, egg yolk, and heavy cream that we stir on the stove, and then we set it, and then we whip it and we fold it in, and then we pipe it into a shell and we dip it into a fine chocolate ganache. You bite into that and it’s authentic. A lot of places you bite into an éclair and it tastes like a vanilla pudding.” That authentic taste is a basic requirement in Karen Donatelli’s kitchen. “The most satisfying part of what I do is when one of my pastries is eaten and enjoyed,” she says. “I love making things, coming up with something different, making things look beautiful and appetizing. I love it all.” Karen has been baking since she got a part-time job at the age of 15 in Florida. “I was still in high school, and I started by making brownies and éclairs. By the time I was 16, I was being shown how to decorate cakes and a year later I was assistant cake decorator.” As she talks, she is decorating another pastry and interrupting her story to check on the items in the oven. She continues her narrative. “I was working full-time before I graduated high school. At 18 I just knew this was the profession I wanted, but I wanted to learn more professionally. I always desired to go to college but it was just not in my path, so I went to the Breakers Hotel, where they hired me on the spot as an apprentice.” It was at the Breakers where she met Vince, who was a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. His career path is the more common among the bakers we met, beginning with a culinary college, and then working their way up in restaurants and hotels, until finally opening their own bakeries. And now Vince has come full cycle as the bakery instructor at A-B Tech. On a recent afternoon, 20 students were rolling hazelnut truffles at the long work table that dominates the baking kitchen. Vince explained that they had been given a demonstration and lecture and, “this is a second-year group, so they should have a grasp of it.” They were on the final step of the process, rolling their truffles over a grate to create the spiky truffle texture. Vince explained the entire process, making it sound simple. “They make the filling, let it set, pipe it, round it, and then dip it in tempered chocolate.” Tempered chocolate? “If you melt chocolate, it won’t have that glossy finish you want for candy or the coating on a truffle. You have to temper it, which means stirring it slowly over a low heat. Time, temperature, and agitation.” One can imagine the notation, “time, temp, agitation,” in the students’ notebooks. Vince started the bakery program at A-B Tech 11 years ago, and he speaks with a quiet pride about the accomplishments of the entire culinary department. He explains that the annual college competition begins at the state level, and the state

Tempered chocolate? “If you melt chocolate, it won’t have that glossy finish you want for candy or the coating on a truffle. You have to temper it, which means stirring it slowly over a low heat.”


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local industry

this page , clockwise from left:

Sarah Resnick working on a Sherlock Holmes cake at City Bakery Daniel Goodson rolling hoagies Sarah Resnick at City Bakery photos this page by Sadrah Schadel

facing page :

Desserts by Karen Donatelli, photo by Dan Root 34

| March 2015

winners move onto the regionals. Finally, the regional winners continue to the culinary Final Four national competition. “We’ve gone to the most nationals of any school over the past 20 years,” he says. “And that includes the past three years consecutively.” The culinary team has won the state and regional competitions again this year and will compete in the national finals in July. Back at the truffle exercise, the students are working quietly, concentrating on their tasks, as Vince keeps an eye on their progress. “I try to instill professionalism,” he says. “I run a professional kitchen. They all walk out of here with a portfolio of all they’ve accomplished. If they’re willing to work hard, they’ll find jobs.” Many of them do find jobs right here in Western North Carolina. And that is one of the contributing factors to the prominence of fine bakeries in the region. “The whole A-B Tech connection is awesome,” says Sarah Resnick at City Bakery. She goes on to list the other factors that contribute to the proliferation of bakeries here. “I think so many people like Vince and his wife are here because they want to live in this area. A-B Tech attracts the caliber of teachers that they do because they want to live in this area. Because they attract their teachers, they have an excellent program. Because they have an excellent program, they’re turning out students that know what they’re doing. And a lot of those students want to stay here. It’s just a great cycle.” And then Sarah notes the final—and perhaps most important—factor. “We happen to have the clientele that knows what they’re looking for, and they’re willing to pay for it.” The continuing theme of Sarah’s statement is that people want to live here. The other bakers we spoke to echoed that sentiment. Bill Tellman at Bracken Mountain bakery in Brevard came to the mountains via his own personal great circle route, beginning in Europe, moving to the wine country of California where he “managed to get written up in Food and Wine, Bon Appétit, and Gourmet magazines.” Those write-ups helped him find work in Charlotte, and after a couple of years he and his wife, Debbie, “started looking around for alternatives. We had to make a choice between the ocean and the mountains. We liked the Brevard area. We opened up on a shoestring, raised our two daughters here, and there couldn’t be a better place to raise kids.”

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local industry

Brian Dennehy, the general manager at City Bakery, takes it a step further. “I think bakeries in general are kind of owned by the communities around them. That community interaction, seeing people in the morning that work in the neighborhood, is one of the real pleasures of this business. People want to be here. To me, Asheville has always been about quality. People are not here just for the money.” Pastry chef Brandon Kop at Stick Boy Bakery in Boone was born in Hawaii and found his way to the high country after stops in Louisiana and Oklahoma. He says he can’t imagine living anywhere else. “I love Boone,” he says. “I’ve got five kids and another on the way, and this is a great place to raise a family.” In separate interviews, the bakers agreed on most topics, none more strongly than the difficulty of the job. “It’s not romantic.” The speaker is Laura Bogard at Well-Bred, but it could have been any of the bakers we spoke with. Laura continued with a vivid description. “This is a production bakery; we do high volume. It’s fast and furious because there’s so much we have to get done.” With a staff of 12 in the small kitchen, she says, “we’re bumping into each other and fighting over access to the oven.” And the work is not easy. “Being in the kitchen all day every day is hard on the body. Piping the éclair shells, you have to squeeze the cone really hard, your hands and arms get tired. Making pastry cream, you’re standing there stirring as it thickens. Your arm gets tired, but you can’t stop. Frosting cakes, you put the frosting in a piping cone and squeeze it. And keep squeezing. The job is so tough that to cut down on the injuries we give everyone in the kitchen a free quarterly massage.” Sarah Resnick laughs at the mention of physical stress. “It’s so not glamorous,” she says. “It’s not pretty. You’re going to be tired. You’re going to work every day when your friends are not working. You’re going to work early mornings or late nights. You’re going to haul 50-pound bags of flour. It’s hard work.” Karen Donatelli adds her own perspective to the physical demands. “I’m on my feet hours and hours at a time. There was a weekend in May when I had so many wedding cakes that I worked a 40-hour shift, nonstop.” In addition to the kitchen work, Karen has the challenge of running a business. “I work seven days a week and 14-hour days. Between ordering, keeping track of receipts, bookkeeping, and banking, and all the other details of a business, it’s much more than a full-time job.” Karen mentions her wedding cakes, which are an essential ingredient of her success. Before they came to Asheville, Karen and Vince and their three kids lived in Orlando, Florida. Vince was pastry chef at the Buena Vista Hotel at Disney World, and Karen went into business herself, first working out of her home, and eventually opening two retail shops. Along the way she acquired clients the likes of Wolfgang Puck and Delta Airlines, where she supplied pastries for their first-class passengers. But her specialty was wedding cakes. “There was such demand for my work that I would work a year in advance. If you didn’t let 36

| March 2015

top to bot tom :

Cake slices by Karen Donatelli, photo by Dan Root Josh Wagner pulling honey wheat bread from the oven at Stick Boy Bakery, photo by Amanda Widis

me know right when you got engaged, you probably weren’t getting one of my cakes.” She pulls down two big albums of wedding cake pictures, their covers showing a fine trace of flour dust. The photos show multi-tiered cakes, ranging up to six feet tall or more, and covered, top to bottom, with sugar sculptures of flowers, vines, decorative swirls, and whatever else the imagination can conjure from a sugar mixture she calls gum paste. “It’s like a dough. I taught myself how to form it into specific shapes.” For all the physical stress, for all the long workdays with inconvenient hours, the bakers agree they wouldn’t have it any other way. “I love to cook,” says Brandon Kop at Stick Boy in Boone. “If I ran into a bunch of money, I might just become a professional fisherman, but this is a great life. Beyond daydreams I can’t imagine doing anything else. I certainly wouldn’t want to go into a corporate office every day.” Vince Donatelli pauses to consider the question. “I love baking and I love teaching. It ’s a hard question. I’ve got a good combination right now.” Sarah Resnick at City Bakery was quick with her response. “I love the satisfaction of being able to see what I did during the day. I can’t imagine hav i ng a n of f ic e job where at the end of the day I may have been very productive, but all I’ve done is write a bunch of Excel spreadsheets. Being in the kitchen I start with butter, sugar, and flour, and I create a five-tier wedding cake. That’s awesome, and I love that.” Matthew Hickman at Underground Baking Company in Hendersonville considered the alternatives. “I would go nuts. Every time I complain about my back pain or getting up at 2:30 in the morning, I think about the alternatives and…” His voice trails off, and he continues on a different tack. “It’s just that you’re wired for it. It’s in your genes. There are just those of us out there who live and breathe the business. There’s something about the person that keeps you in this business.”

Karen Donatelli adds her own perspective to the physical demands. “I’m on my feet hours and hours at a time. There was a weekend in May when I had so many wedding cakes that I worked a 40-hour shift, nonstop.”

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g roove… …put plainly: dancing We’ve all watched and said, “what fun!” No more excuses. Get out and try it, any of it, you might just find that it’s as much fun as it looks (and good exercise to boot!). written by marie bartlett March 2015 | capitalatplay.com 39


leisure & libation

t’s seven p.m. on a clear, cold January night, but inside the softly lit Asheville Ballroom Dance and Event Centre at 991 Sweeten Creek Road, a group of about twenty-five men and women from throughout Western North Carolina are warming up to the voice of their instructor. She’s explaining the basic patterns in line dancing, a simple and popular form of movement in which dancers stand in a row and repeat a series of steps in unison. Literal lines have formed, ten to a row, and the toe-tapping music begins. Once known as a favorite stomp-down in country-and-western bars, today it’s performed at workshops, in dance studios, in ballrooms, and at colleges and retirement centers, to music that ranges from oldie rock to Taylor Swift’s contemporary “Shake it Off.” This is a dance designed for solo performers—people who don’t need or seek a partner—which may explain why it draws more women than men. On average, men don’t choose dance as a leisurely pastime nearly as often as women, which means many women go without a partner. “Cross one, two, three and four. Now triple three and four. Pivot, five, six, seven, eight, side touch…and repeat,” the instructor intones. A set of sparkling chandeliers overhead, a wall of mirrors, and a slick, polished dance floor form just the right backdrop. After all, to move gracefully (or not), one needs plenty of light and a warm, inviting space. According to researchers, early humans had solid reasons to dance, including as a means to attract a mate and a way to bond in a group for survival. Examining the DNA of dancers versus non-dancers, scientists have since found that those who dance are better social communicators with higher levels of serotonin, known to boost moods. If that’s not reason enough to love the joy of dance consider this: dancers tend to be more symmetrical in their body types, which could help explain the key difference between dancers with natural grace and someone who trips not-so-lightly across the floor. In other words, as humans we are not created equal when it comes to dancing. 40

| March 2015


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above and facing page :

Community contra and square dance at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown

A middle-aged woman, new to the line dancing group, struggles to keep up, one foot and then the other out of sync with the beat. But before long, she’s starting to get it and her worried frown is replaced with a look of relief. A distinguished gentleman in a trim leather vest, his salt-and-pepper hair carefully coiffed, appears to come fully alive only when the music begins. Swaying his arms and shuffling his feet in perfect rhythm, it’s pretty clear he’s done this a few times. More obvious, he’s in his element on the dance floor. That sense of freedom, says Linda Hall, a line dancing instructor from Sylva, is what dancing in general and line dancing in particular, is about. Having loved dance since she was a kid, she teaches line and contra dancing at senior citizen centers in Jackson County, but also clogs and square dances. “Line dancing is a great outlet for anyone,” she says. “It’s good, clean fun, great exercise, and though, like anything else, you have to work on it a bit, it’s pretty easy to learn. Most everyone picks it up within a month or so. In fact, I tell my students that if they can walk, they can dance. With two feet, at least they have a fifty-fifty chance of getting it right.” Want to try it? A number of line dance lessons and events are held in Asheville and throughout Western North Carolina, including the monthly Line and Pattern Partner Dance Party from 7-10pm at the Asheville Ballroom Dance & Event Centre, 991 Sweeten Creek Road. Cost is $12 per person. For March and April dance dates (not yet scheduled) call 828-274-8320, or email Denna Yockey at: denna.yockey@gmail.com. Nancy Glover teaches Beginner and Intermediate line dance classes at the Opportunity House, 1411 Asheville Highway in Hendersonville, on Tuesdays from

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5:30pm to 7:30pm. During her nineteen-year dance career, Nancy has tried shag, ballroom, clogging, and contra. She loves the diversity of music used in today’s dances and the fact that dancing draws people of all ages from all walks of life, not to mention its physical benefits. Call about her classes at 828-6920575. Ballroom and swing are also taught at the Opportunity House. Call 828-698-0165 for details and schedules. Additional outlets for line dancing are found at the Athletics and Activity Center at 708 South Grove Street in Hendersonville, with a beginner class on Wednesdays from 9am – 10:30 am. Call in advance to register at 828-697-4900, or email Wanda Junek at: alj51@morrisbb.net. Her website is linedanceclass.com. The Blue R idge C om mu n it y C ol lege offers a beginner line dance class on Tuesdays from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. Instructor Betty Busch can be reached at 828694-1700. Less than thirty minutes from Hendersonville, in the small town of Saluda, North Carolina, is The Party Place and Event Center, featuring a 7,000-square-foot floating dance floor within a 12,000 -square-foot facility (The Party Place is also used for private bookings). Smoke-free and climate-controlled year round, it has an elaborate stage and seats up to 350 people. Here, on the second Saturday of each month, a family-oriented Blue Ridge Contra Dance is held, which can bring up to sixty dancers at a time, their ages ranging from seven to seventy. Known as a form of folk dancing, contra—unlike line dancing—requires two parallel rows of dancers and a sequence of dance moves with different partners down the length of the line. The dancers must listen and heed the caller’s instruction; generally an enthusiastic, knowledgeable person who encourages novices and motivates the experienced. Contra has been around a long time and is often credited with influencing the steps associated with line dancing. Judy Thompson, an attorney who was a senior partner at a law firm in Charlotte, but is now living in Saluda, has been

A distinguished gentleman in a trim leather vest, his saltand-pepper hair carefully coiffed, appears to come fully alive only when the music begins. Swaying his arms and shuffling his feet in perfect rhythm, it’s pretty clear he’s done this a few times.


| March 2015

above :

Rick Harris and partner competing in the 2014 US National Tango Championships, photos by Nikolay Chigirev

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> Monday Practice Party

7:30-9pm. $5 per person. Starts with mini-lesson and review. No partner needed. Asheville Ballroom & Dance Centre, 991 Sweeten Creek Rd, Asheville, NC 828-274-8320 • ashevilleballroom.net e v e r y t u e s d ay

> Mountain Shag Club Dance

Lesson from 6:30-7pm, and dance from 7-10pm. $5 cover. Showtime Saloon, Fletcher, NC mountainshagclub.com e v e r y t h u r s d ay

> Dancing at the Maggie Valley Inn

6:30-9:30pm. Dance floor is in the Rendezvous Restaurant & Lounge with live music by Steve Whiddon. No cover. Maggie Valley Inn, 70 Soco Rd, Maggie Valley, NC 866-929-0201 • maggievalleyhotel.com e v e r y f r i d ay

> Hendersonville Ballroom Dance Club

Lesson from 6:30-7:30pm. Dancing from 7:30-10pm. $7 for non-members. Opportunity House, 1411 Asheville Hwy, Hendersonville, NC 828-692-0575

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> Salsa Night at Mela

Salsa dancing from 10:30pm-2:15am. $5 cash cover for women, $7 for men. Mela Indian Restaurant, 70 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 828-225-8880

s e c o n d s at u r d ay s

> Beach Night at the

Hendersonville American Legion with the Mountain Shag Club Bar and grill opens at 6pm with dancing from 7-10pm. $5 cover, with DJ David Hadden. Bar and grill open at 6:30pm. Hendersonville American Legion, 216 4th Ave West, Hendersonville, NC 828-301-2516

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involved in dance since 1987. She’s a regular attendee at The Party Place and was instrumental in helping bring contra to the Saluda venue. “I dreamed about it for four years,” she says. “But we had no money to get us started. Through local support and the incredible, talented musicians and performers who provide our live music (sometimes at no pay), we’ve managed to create a place that draws people who have never heard of contra dancing.” She continues her quest to attract dancers to The Party Place and Event Center year round, a venue she describes as “so beautiful it will blow you away.” Just off I-26 at the Saluda Exit #59 on Friendship Road in Saluda, The Party Place and Event Center (formerly known as the Saluda Mountain Jamboree) offers contra lessons starting at 7:30pm on the second Saturday of each month. The dances begin at 8pm and end around 10:30. The next scheduled contra dance events are March 14 and April 11, with lessons at 7:30pm. For more information call 828-749-3676. In the Bryson Gym at Warren Wilson College on 701 Warren Wilson Road in Swannanoa, beginner contra lessons are held on most Thursdays at 7:30pm with dances at 8:00pm. Contra is only one of several dances offered through the Old Farmer’s Ball (an organization that encourages traditional dancing). The March 20 dance date is designed for advanced level contra dancers. Check their website at oldfarmersball.com for the full schedule, or call the college direct at 828-298-3325. On Saturdays once a month, contra dances are held at different locations in Boone. Sponsored by the Boone Country Dancers, the next event is March 21 at the Old Cove Creek School Gym in Sugar Grove beginning at 8pm (lessons start at 7:30). On April 25 and again on May 2, the dancers move to the Apple Barn in Valle Crucis. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for high school students, and kids 12 and under are free. For more information, including a complete 2015 schedule, contact John Pertalion at 828-406-0580, or visit the website at boonecountrydancers.org. Though seasonal, Swing Set Big Band plays in downtown Boone on Depot Street during warmer months, enticing the local Appalachian college students to try swing dancing. There are no details yet on the swing dance schedule, but check with the college closer to spring. If neither line, swing, nor contra dancing in Boone sound appealing, try clogging, jazz, hip hop, Zumba, creative movements, or belly dancing at the High Country Dance Studio at 188 Boone Dock Street. Visit their website at highcountrydancestudio.com, or call 828-773-1335 for details. Other private lessons can be scheduled in youth ballet, tap, jazz, and modern dance through the Studio K Dance Workshop at 289 Daniel Boone Drive, by calling 828-265-6621. A new hip hop class for boys and creative movement for toddlers are available at the Northwestern Studios at 1474 Highway 105. Call 828-262-3262, or go their website at northwesternstudios.com, for more information. Close to the Tennessee line in Brasstown, North Carolina (Clay County), Saturdays are often big nights at the John C. Campbell Folk School on 1 Folk School Road, about

Some are exposed to dance and something clicks. “The only thing they can tell you is, ‘I have to dance. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be happy.’ All forms of dance, I believe, fill a little hole in your heart.”

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The Admiral (Fridays and Saturdays) 400 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 828-252-2541 • theadmiralnc.com Jack of the Wood 95 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC 828-252-5445 • jackofthewood.com Olive or Twist 81 Broadway, Asheville, NC 828-254-0555 • oliveortwist.net Room Nine 124 College St, Asheville, NC 828-505-2568 • roomnineasheville.com

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7-10:30pm. Dance is upstairs, look for sign on the front door. Wood floor & live music. Cost is $8. Refreshments available (non-alcoholic beverages, plus hot snacks). Fannie Dorlan’s, 61-1/2 Main St, Canton, NC 828-736-8925

leisure & libation


above and facing page :

Belly dancing at the Jerusalem Garden Café in downtown Asheville, photos by Sadrah Schadel

seven miles east of Murphy. That’s when the Community Contra and Square Dance takes place from 8:00pm to 11:00pm. Dancing, states the website, “is an integral part of the school.” Their next event is March 7, followed by March 21 and April 4 dance dates. Admission is $7 for adults, $4 for kids 12-18, and $3 for those under the age of three. For details call 1-800-365-5724, or go to the website at folkschool.org. Ron Darby, of Franklin, North Carolina, says his county of Macon offers swing dances and square dances, but he comes to Asheville for a change of pace. Retired from the aircraft industry in 1998, he says he used to be a drummer and, though somewhat shy, “always wanted to dance.” “I began with the electric slide and then tried shag. Now I like to line dance and took lessons from Linda Hall. What I enjoy most is the music, especially the old rock ’n roll. As a former drummer, I can feel the beat and that helps in dancing.” He tells other wanna-be dancing guys—many of whom he says are simply afraid to make a fool of themselves in public—they should forget their insecurities. Besides, just as in high school, it’s a great way to impress the ladies. “Get out there, laugh about it and have fun,” he advises. “Hey, if you can’t have a good time, there’s not much point in doing anything.” Back at the line dancing class at the Asheville Ballroom and Event Centre where the thirty minute lesson is over and it’s open dance time, host Denna Yockey says she began her own foray into dancing because she got tired of guys waiting to ask her to dance. A diminutive woman with a light-up-the-room smile, she’s been teaching dance for nearly twenty years. 46

| March 2015

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“I started in Kansas where I had my own dance studio, then moved to Asheville about eight years ago. I’ve found a lot of line dancing and other forms of dance in this region. Now I teach (dance) for Asheville-Buncombe Technical College, the College For Seniors at UNC Asheville, the Harvest House recreation center, and several retirement communities in the area.” She says nothing pleases her more than “spreading the joy of dancing.” “I love the independence I feel by being able, especially in line dancing, to dance whenever I want to, whether I have someone to dance with or not. And I’ve made a lot of friends along the way.” Asheville Ballroom Dance and Event Centre offers a number of dance classes. Check out their West Coast Swing Class on Mondays, with lessons starting at 6:30pm and dances at 7pm. The cost is $12 per person. Call 828-274-8320 for more details on the spring schedule. From the traditional to off-the-grid, dance is readily found in Asheville and Buncombe County. For example, private lessons are available in Zydeco (a style that has roots in folk dance), Cajun, and Two-Step, all part of a four-week series taught by Deborah Swanson (but you’ll need a partner). Call 828-778-4878 for further information. Argentine Tango classes are provided through private lessons for individuals and groups by Rick Harris; for further information, call 828-779-3177. Healing Dance Sessions with Michelle Dionne is designed to help women through pregnancy and

childbirth. Michelle also offers belly dancing. Visit her website at yellowsunfarm.blogspot.com, or call 828-664-9564 for more information. Belly dancing is also taught every Friday and Saturday at the Jerusalem Garden Café on 78 Patton Avenue in downtown Asheville from 7–10pm; for more information, call 828-254-0255. For those who like the night life, there’s a Dance Party Friday and Saturday nights at 9pm at The Admiral on Haywood Road in West Asheville; call 828-252-2541 for more details. The Grey Eagle, at 185 Clingman Avenue in Asheville, offers contra dancing on Mondays at 8pm, with beginner lessons at 7:30. A $7 admission is required. They have swing and other dances as well. Call 828-232-5800 for details.

“No one owns dance, meaning everyone does, with the full freedom to express themselves. There’s no right or wrong to it. It’s you and you alone in the step; your pulse, your heartbeat, the rhythm of your life.” If you can clap, you can learn how to clog, say the Forge Mountain Cloggers, many of whom come from throughout Western North Carolina. You can find them at 764 South Mills River Road in Mills River, or by calling 828-891-2487. The Mountain Thunder Cloggers offer affordable classes for all ages, no partner required. Call 828-490-1226 for further details. The Southside Studio in Fletcher, which serves Asheville, Hendersonville, and Fletcher, welcomes students from age four

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L and up, with training available in ballet, tap, jazz, and hip hop. Call Kevin Overbey at 828-684-2118. Missy Lindsey, of Shall We Danz, provides instruction in ballroom, country western, line dancing, and choreography for wedding parties. Contact her at 828-712-8121. Private instructor C.J. Stancil says you can quickly learn to dance “and enjoy all that Asheville has to offer,” through swing, Latin, ballroom, and nightclub dancing. Call 828-712-0325 for details. The lengthy list goes on for dancing in the Asheville and surrounding vicinity, so dance instructors and enthusiasts say the best, most comprehensive lineup of up-to-date venues for dance events, performances, classes, workshops, and links to other dance resources throughout the region is danceasheville.com. The site is updated about once a week. Traditionalists can enjoy the fluid grace of ballroom dancing through BlueRidge Ballroom in North Asheville along with other social forms of dancing, according to Linda Schlensker and her partner, Lee Cutler Smith. Ballroom is their forte with “social dancing”—a classification of dance in which socializing, not competition, is the primary focus. All students, however, must be serious about learning how to dance well. While classes are held at the Homewood Event Center, at 19 Zillicoa in Asheville (Montford) about twice a week, Linda says they don’t have a full-service local studio because they travel outside North Carolina to teach elsewhere. When asked why people come to their classes, Linda reflects on the many reasons her students say they want to dance. “For some, it’s because of external pressure. A fiancée, a spouse, or a co-worker insists they learn how. These are the folks that generally learn just enough to get by. Others are exposed to dance and something clicks. The only thing they can tell you

is, ‘I have to dance. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be happy.’ All forms of dance, I believe, fill a little hole in your heart.” To contact Linda visit her website at blueridgeballroom.com, email her at Lindaschlensker@gmail.com, or call 828-2539108. Her site contains information on other local ballrooms as well, including Arden’s Black Cat, Fletcher’s DC Studio, and the Dancing Feete ballroom and Dance Center in Flat Rock. If Baroque music is your thing, George and Linda Schissler teach a series of English Country Dances in Montford on most Sundays from 4–6:30pm at the Homewood Event Center on 19 Zillicoa Street. Beginner sessions start at 3:30pm with no partner necessary. Next scheduled dates are March 1, March 22, and April 19. Call 828-232-9900 for details. Music festivals provide one of the best outlets for dance enthusiasts of all interests and levels. During spring through fall there are no shortage of festivals in Western North Carolina, including the French Broad River Festival, May 1-3, Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF), May 7-10, the Montford Music and Arts Festival on May 16, and the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, July 30 – August 1. For a more complete list of 2015 area music and dance festivals go to: danceasheville.com and look for “Useful Dance Links.” So why dance? The reasons are as varied as the styles and abilities of those who make the effort. But one Western North Carolina amateur dancer, when asked the question, summed it up best: “It has no hierarchy,” she explains. “No one owns dance, meaning everyone does, with the full freedom to express themselves. There’s no right or wrong to it. It’s you and you alone in the step; your pulse, your heartbeat, the rhythm of your life. That’s why music—and dance—is the universal language. It brings us together in as close to perfection as you’ll get.”

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Funny Business doesn’t tell jokes, but they do make people laugh with a company that makes money where the mic is written by toni sherwood photos by anthony harden


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right :

John Yoder

lef t :

Greg Hardin


love the work, I’m passionate,” John Yoder, president of the Funny Business Agency says. “The best times have been going out to dinner with a bunch of comics. It was hard at first, because the pressure is on to feel like you’re up to the repartee. Some of them can be funny all the time.” The Funny Business Agency has been booking comedy acts for over 30 years. Headquartered out of Michigan with a satellite operation in Asheville, the eight-person staff books entertainment for comedy clubs, casinos, cruise ships, trade shows, conventions, and more. March 2015 | capitalatplay.com


Countdown To Comedy Yoder took courses such as, ‘Inner Time,’ ‘Worlds and Reality,’ and ‘Psycho-pharmacology’ at William James College in Grand Valley—perhaps a fitting curriculum to prepare one for the comedy business. “The ministry was where I was headed,” Yoder recalls, “but I had a job in school as the campus activities assistant programmer, we’d book concerts, films, and events, so I learned booking there.” By the time he graduated he had a strong foundation and a love of booking entertainment. After graduating, Yoder began booking films at three Foreign and Art Film theaters in Michigan. But with the advent of crossover films, starting with Broadcast News, a romantic comedy released in 1987, this industry turned on its head. “That was the day all the mom and pop Foreign Art Film theaters died, because Broadcast News was kind of mainstream and kind of artsy,” Yoder explains. Suddenly this niche market was being courted by the big theaters, and, at the same time, stand-up comedy was on the rise. “It just kind of mushroomed,” Yoder says, “we ended up getting comedy going at one of our Art Film theaters in Michigan, and I kind of surfed the wave as it grew.” One thing missing in the burgeoning comedy market at the time were skilled bookers. 52

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Music agents were common, but as stand-up comedy proliferated, booking was a free-for-all, with comedians booking their friends, acts not showing up, and club owners lacking knowledge of comedy acts. The need for directive was apparent, and Funny Business took flight.

Funny Runs in the Family Yoder continued to grow his comedy booking business in Michigan while he and his wife, Laurie, raised three sons. One by one, they joined him in the business. “Quite frankly I was very grateful they did,” Yoder admits, “I really needed to have Comedy Central generation eyes on the business. It’s wonderful when family that you trust can step into it.” Each son was attracted to a different aspect of the business. The oldest, Jamison, covers corporate, colleges, and the Gilda’s LaughFest in Michigan. Middle son Eric books the full-time comedy clubs around the country. Youngest son Michael originally came in to handle internet marketing and social media, and is now booking one-nighters as well. All three sons have settled in Michigan, where the business began. Yoder and his wife relocated to Asheville in 2009. They had vacationed here often and especially love walking in nature

(L to R) Michael Yoder, Eric Yoder, and Jamison Yoder

and checking out the restaurant scene. Funny Business quickly opened up a comedy room at the former S&W building to bring in nationally recognized acts. Despite a sluggish economy and in the midst of the winter slump, they did well, featuring talent such as Bobcat Goldthwait. But unfortunately the S&W went bankrupt about nine months later.

Chance Meeting A more recent addition to the Funny Business team may not be a family member, but he’s emerged as an essential player. “I started working with a consulting firm, and Funny Business was a client,” Greg Hardin, independent representative at Funny Business, recalls, “the economy had shifted and John was wondering how to best use their resources for marketing.” Hardin’s humble aspect belies his impressive list of credentials, including Good Morning America, Nickelodeon, and Sesame Street. He and his wife relocated to Asheville in 2007, wanting to be closer to their parents in Atlanta (but not too close). What Hardin hadn’t expected from his association with Yoder was to be so enamored with the booking business. “I thought this is so much more fun than consulting,” Hardin recalls. Yoder remembers their early collaboration when he got to

know Hardin. “We were working on some ideas for the business. I liked his personality,” Yoder says. “He has a real passion for comedy and good attention to detail. He seemed to really want to do this type of work, and with his background in entertainment it seemed like a natural fit.” Hardin had first tried his hand at booking with Good Morning America in New York, which was a high stress environment. “I was the lowest of the low on the totem pole, but it’s funny, it’s come full circle,” Hardin admits.

Home Room Since the S&W closed down, Funny Business had been searching for another location to launch a professional comedy room, difficult in a town like Asheville that has mostly smaller venues. According to Yoder, they need at least 200 seats to do the type of shows they want to book. “We’re very excited about the Mill Room,” Yoder says. The Mill Room opened in May of 2013. With over 200 seats, a generous stage, and cozy lighting, it had the right ambience. It also had free parking across the street and food, beer, and wine service. Currently, Funny Business books one to two shows a month at the Mill Room. “We’re going to increase the amount of shows we do there,” Yoder promises. March 2015 | capitalatplay.com


(L to R) Jamison Yoder, Michael Yoder, and John Yoder at Laughfest

Although Funny Business books nationally recognized acts at the Mill Room, such as upcoming headliners Lisa Landry and Sara Schaefer, recently they showcased a selection of Asheville’s local comedians. “I wanted to do it as a way to introduce the audience we’ve built up to the local comics,” Hardin explains, “I want people to understand we have a scene, and it helps build on itself. The room was packed.” Funny Business has had several past Mill Room shows sell out in advance, but Hardin knows it’s not necessarily a guarantee of future results. “There are so many elements. After every show I always ask myself what worked and didn’t work,” Hardin says, “but you never really know. We’ve had a lot of sellouts in a row and I’m very happy about it, but you can’t ever say it’s going to keep going.”

Getting Down To Business “We don’t produce shows, we book shows,” Hardin says. “Some people get into being a promoter or managing acts, but we book shows.” “We act more as a talent consultant, we put together the package we think is best with the budget they have to work with. We’re probably the most on the frontline of new talent than anybody,” Yoder says. Yoder was drawn to the more client-based approach of booking entertainment as opposed to representing acts, a natural progression for many including his mentor who eventually moved to Los Angeles to become a talent manager. Although there may be 54

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more glamour in managing a big act, Yoder was content to find his niche in booking, glad to be free of the pressure to sell any particular act. “I’m not a good schmoozer,” Yoder says. Hardin notes one of Yoder’s strengths is his ability to juggle a variety of schedules, acts, and clubs to maximize a performer’s time in a particular market. “That’s really what helped our business grow in the comedy shows,” Yoder says. Acts tend to fly in and out for corporate events or college shows, but when it comes to working the comedy clubs, it’s helpful if comedians can circulate within an area and get as many gigs as possible. “We have 70 venues a week that we book, with two comedians per show,” Hardin says. Additionally, they book the Comedy Classic Weekend at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville and Gilda’s LaughFest in Michigan. For these events, Funny Business chooses their favorite top caliber comedians for the lineup. This March the 27th Annual Comedy Classic Weekend includes headliners Lachlan Patterson and Tom Papa. “The biggest thing we do is Gilda’s LaughFest in Grand Rapids,” Hardin says. “The Gilda’s Club Chapter in Grand Rapids started this and it has turned into a really big fundraiser.” Gilda’s LaughFest has grown each year since its inception in 2011. In 2014, 899 artists from 27 states and Canada performed on 54 festival stages in West Michigan, including Jay Leno, Lily Tomlin, Jim Gaffigan, Chris Tucker, Sinbad, Mike Birbiglia, Judah Friedlander, Jen Kirkman, Todd Barry, Rory Scovel, and Maria Bamford. Comedians look forward to the annual event, but not just for the audiences. “A lot of times headliners of a

certain caliber don’t get to hang out with each other,” Yoder observes, “so they just love being in town at the same time where they can network and connect. You can imagine it can be lonely work being out on the road and performing.”

“Half our business is corporate.” Companies provide entertainment at corporate functions, conventions, company parties, trade shows, and sales meetings. They may want a comedian, magician, mentalist, or a number of other unique acts.

Comedian’s Life

So what does it take to be a good comedian? We all know funny people, but a funny friend is different than a professional comedian who has dedicated their life to the craft. “The number one thing is an insatiable drive to get up in front of people and try to make them laugh,” Hardin says. “It’s always the next show that they’re excited about. You can’t teach that.” Although Yoder and Hardin both love the comedy business, they’ve always been happiest behind the scenes. “I never had an inkling or desire to do it,” Yoder says. To become successful in the field, aspiring comics endure public failure and years of trial and error. “People say you should be making it by seven years, but that’s a long time to try something and not know if it’s working,” Hardin says. “I don’t think I could overcome the crossed arms and blank stares you get sometimes onstage,” Yoder admits. “I remember hearing Steven Wright. It took him a full year or two of totally bombing every night to get good.” If that isn’t enough to drive a sane person crazy, comics are on the road 48-50 weeks a year, living in hotel rooms, trying to hold together long distance relationships. Hardin adds, “then after ten years your friends are settling down and having kids, and you’ve got to decide, is this what I want to be doing?”

Cleaning Up Their Act Although Funny Business books comedy clubs, casinos, and resorts, these make up only a segment of their client list. “A big thing I did about 15 years ago was getting into the corporate market,” Yoder says, “half our business is corporate.” Companies such as Frito Lay, IAMS, and Gordon Foods elicit Funny Business Agency’s services to provide entertainment at corporate functions, conventions, company parties, trade shows, and sales meetings. They may want a comedian, magician, mentalist, or a number of other unique acts. Corporate clients require ‘clean’ comedy, meaning no swear words or explicit material. Yoder likes getting creative with the entertainment. “We may put together highend tech events with make your own video and photo sessions,” Yoder says, “I like trying to fit a theme around entertainment.” Although they strive to bring the best creative fit to any budget and event, sometimes the client overrides their recommendations. Hardin was planning a murder mystery for a client’s holiday party. “It was going to be fun and involve

Love of Comedy Hardin noticed the stand-up scene changing in New York in the early 2000s. “I wasn’t into that ’80s or early ’90s comedy,” Hardin admits, “but then Dave Attell, Louis C.K., Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt, Todd Barry, Ted Alexandro, that whole core of people came along that were so different. They sounded different, their rhythm was different. They were confrontational, but not like a smug, ’80s arrogant kind of guy, but self-deprecating. I really like that.”

“I tend to like more original comedy,” Yoder says. His list of favorites is wide-ranging, but after a lifetime of watching comics, he’s become a connoisseur. “Over the years I’ve seen so much that’s born out of generic stand-up comedy, but there are some comedians, like Emo Philips, that will take you out on a branch and then pull it away and do a complete twist on where you thought they were going with the joke. I’ve always liked that.”

March 2015 | capitalatplay.com


everybody, and at the last minute the head guy changed his mind,” Hardin recalls. “He saw someone who does a Mark Twain impression. So that’s what they had for their holiday party, a guy who would sit in a chair. Everybody in the company was bored stiff. I talked to the woman I dealt with, and she said, ‘Please next time insist that we not do something like that.’” Another client faux pas is not knowing just how much a nationally recognized act costs. “Sometimes people want to pay very little for acts,” Yoder says. “They don’t realize how much people make.” For example, Jim Gaffigan and Jay Leno can pull in over $100,000 for a performance; Daniel Tosh of Tosh.0 can get even more. Hardin says there is little negotiating over the rate an act charges, it’s more about their availability and whether they want to do it. The range of client’s needs can be anything from talent for a commercial shoot to a high-end party seeking celebrity entertainment. “We even booked an elephant for Amway,” Yoder recalls. “There was actually an elephant living in Michigan that was in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.”

Although the corporate market requires clean comedy, Yoder gets passionate about comedians being able to venture into taboo subjects in the safety of a comedy club. Those who criticize comedians for veering into ‘blue’ or explicit material contradict his philosophy.

“I like comedy because it breaks up the drama and melodrama of relationships, marriage, parents, life; you get caught up in how hard it is. Then you can laugh with others and share experiences,” Yoder says. “I’ll agree if what they mean is people who use sexual jokes that are gross to get the laugh. I see that a lot, and it’s not even that funny,” Yoder says. “My feeling is comedy is comedy, as long as it’s good comedy. Like Robert Schimmel, who’s a very intelligent act, would talk about bodily functions and sexual material, but in a smart way—in a way that really had pathos to it, like a person experiencing changes within himself.” And that may be the key to good comedy: the personal approach. “There’s no one formula for what is funny, but a

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really good comic can find what is funny about themselves and make it their own,” Hardin says, “and when they understand that and harness it, it’s amazing.” Yoder also sees the ability to laugh at off-color or taboo subjects as necessary for society. “You know the menopause jokes, they all got clichéd pretty quickly, but at the time when they first came out, wow, people could laugh about it,” Yoder says. George Carlin was one comedian who broke barriers talking about the body and aging. More recently, comedienne Tig Notaro made a name for herself with an act about her own cancer. “What a liberation to be able to laugh with someone else that has had it,” Yoder says. “That’s great comedy.”

Changes in Comedy In the ’80s, comedians could only reach audiences by live shows and television appearances. The emergence of podcasts has given them more accessibility to followers and helped them build a fan base. Another recent change in the comedy scene is the evolution of the open mic or amateur show. “I think it grew out of frustration,” Yoder speculates. “Comics unable to get professional stage time still wanted to do comedy because they loved it.” So the open mic show was born. But Yoder says this scene has

evolved, with many amateur comics satisfied with doing open mics and having no aspirations to become professionals. “They have other jobs, but they like to do comedy,” Yoder says. “Like in Grand Rapids, I’d say there are 30 local comedians there now, and maybe half of them have other jobs.”

The Next Frontier “I like comedy because it breaks up the drama and melodrama of relationships, marriage, parents, life; you get caught up in how hard it is. Then you can laugh with others and share experiences,” Yoder says. Our human pathos offers an endless source of material, and the nature of stand-up comedy keeps it fresh and topical, and in a state of constant flux, just like the society it reflects. “Stand-up is so direct, you can think of something that day, try it out that night, and incorporate it into your act immediately,” Hardin says. “I don’t know what the next frontier is, maybe transgender comedians,” Yoder says, “but humor has got to be a part of breaking down the barriers and helping people understand differences.”

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Meditation at Work How do you focus your mind?


jackie is owner of Life Balance Designs— providing work-life balance tools for professional and personal success.



IGH PER FOR MING professionals both locally and globally are turning to a time-tested, although surprising tool to achieve greatness in business and career. Once associated with barefoot hippies, light-chasing gurus, and new age religions, meditation is being utilized in boardrooms, conference rooms and even sky lounges by chief executive officers, business managers, and marketing and sales professionals to achieve success. It’s not that they are looking to attain some sort of spiritual enlightenment, Samadhi or Nirvana. These are practical people. They have busy lives, run businesses and are looking for worldly success. They are not about to quit their day job to join the nearest ashram, temple or yoga community. Yet, in the midst of the thousand and one daily demands, they find that taking time to sit quietly - to seemingly do nothing – has led them to the very thing they seek, greater success. It is counter-intuitive to business at large, yet it seems to be working. Why do they initially turn to meditation? The reasons vary. Some are looking for simple things - to feel more centered, 58

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calm and relaxed. Others are dealing with insomnia, anxiety and depression and heard meditation can help. Top business leaders cite things like greater productivity, creativity, humor and insight. The list of positive, post-digestive effects of meditation is long. So long that images of snake oil medicine claims come to mind. But unlike snake oil medicine, science backs up these claims, showing that meditation addresses everything from job and athletic performance to weight loss and smoking cessation to lower cholesterol and blood pressure to improved immunity and skin conditions. The reason? Meditation affects the mind, and the mind affects almost everything else. Even Oprah Winfrey has become a meditator. People want to meditate. So, they sit down, close their eyes, and hoping to find ease and peace, are instead blindsided by a cacophony of thoughts that won’t seem to shut up. Many quit, some within the first 45 seconds. This phenomenon has a name. The wisdom keepers who initially brought meditation to the modern world, call it the “drunken monkey”. It swings from branch to branch to branch, never stopping and in no real coherent order. On occasion, the


“monkey mind” does stop, only to be replaced by the dull and inert “water buffalo” mind. Neither animal is the goal. What makes meditation so hard? Part of it is the set up. New meditators have the false notion that meditation means to “not think”. This is impossible, as the entire purpose of the conscious mind is to think. The brain processes approximately 400 billion bits of information every second. Only 2000 make it into our awareness. According to Sigmund Freud, the information residing inside our awareness is our consciousness. Everything outside the awareness is the unconscious. It other words, all the things we know that we know about make up the conscious, everything else resides in the unconscious mind. Part of the role of the conscious mind is to make sense of the information it receives. It creates stories that help us navigate in the external world, learning what is dangerous and what is safe. It saves this information for later and combines old information with new to create a new future. As our species evolved, those who could remember and imagine, those who could see the pitfalls best, survived. Those who didn’t, they left less in the gene pool. Today, modern people walk around with minds that evolved from those who could think quickly. Sitting to meditate, we experience it first hand. Part of what makes meditators so successful is that they start to increase what they are aware of. They make more of what is unconscious conscious. To understand why, we have to look at the mechanics. Walking around in our daily lives, our brains vibrate at a measurable frequency, one associated with alertness, logic and crucial reasoning, as well as stress, anxiety and the inner critic. These frequencies are similar to the colors of the rainbow, where red is a slower wavelength than purple. Just as the eye can see more than one color, the brain can rest in more than one frequency. The “color” below the conscious mind, is a frequency dominated by a sense of deep relaxation, as well as heightened imagination, memory, learning and concentration. The frequency below that is associated with those “a-ha” moments, which can flash into everyday life at unexpected time. Resting here, one experiences exceptional insight, profound creativity and awakened inspiration. Slow the frequency more and we connect to the place where deep regeneration and healing happens, and where we can begin to consciously access the things outside our awareness, the unconscious becomes conscious. When we have more awareness, we can see opportunities better, solve problems and act on insights. We also have less

attachment to failure and success, and so are able to act with more bravery. The slowing of brain frequencies requires technique. Just as there is confusion around “not thinking”, there is confusion around “meditation”. In truth, “meditation” is the state of being in these different brain frequencies. To get from the frequency of conscious mind to slower ones, we cannot use the conscious mind, as it will keep us in its frequency. Instead, we have to trick it. The trick is concentration. Concentration means that we take the monkey mind and ask it to rest on one point, to the distraction of everything else. As

Once associated with barefoot hippies, light-chasing gurus, and new age religions, meditation is being utilized in boardrooms and conference rooms. we softly focus on a chosen object, the rest of the thoughts fade to the background, and we begin to access these other states of mind. Anyone who has engaged in an extreme sport or even gardening has a sense of this experience. It is that point, when so entirely focused, everything else seems to fall away, even thought. Sound simple enough? Anyone who has tried knows that it takes patience, especially in our app-enhanced, multi-tasking, short attention span world. To get there the meditator, or rather concentrator, has only two jobs. The first is to relax. Nothing keeps meditation at bay like tension. Second, is to keep going. Concentration is like building a muscle and only practice will make it stronger. Over time, glimpses of meditation will happen. There are a hundred different ways to concentrate, including guided meditations. Some techniques ask the practitioner to anchor their awareness to their breath, others to a silently repeated word, and others to sensations. All are valid. Every stage of the process brings benefits. Sitting with the swings of the monkey mind brings mindfulness and awareness. Drawing attention back to the object of focus builds concentration and resiliency. Eventually those moments of deep relaxation appear, as well as flashes of insight that open us to opportunities and help solve problems. Meditation has the ability to move the mind from stress and tension, to clarity and peace, creating the ground for greatness in everything we do.

March 2015 | capitalatplay.com 59




news briefs

Bankers driven to innovate now reaping success

their product has resulted in a “19 percent increase in loan volume, 34 percent decrease in loan closing time, 22 percent increase in staffing efficiency, 17 percent reduction in operating costs, 54 percent reduction in policy exceptions, and elimination of regulatory compliance costs.”

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In January the $428 million California Bank of Commerce signed on to nCino’s services. In February the $1.3 billion Pulaski Bank, based in St. Louis, did the same. As the innovator of cloud-based banking, nCino began as bankers Neil Underwood and Chip Mahan at Live Oak Bank in Wilmington found the processing of paperwork required for loans was taking too much away from their business and customers. After a diligent search, the duo decided what they wanted did not exist, so they pulled a bunch of banking and technology experts together and built their own banking operating system. They claim


largest in the country’s solar farm industry. Its existing solar projects have already put over one gigawatt of power on North Carolina’s grid, and hundreds of shovel-ready projects will supply megawatts more. Meanwhile, another Asheville company, FLS Energy, has finalized financing for a seven North Carolina solar farms. They are expected to provide a total of 42 megawatts of power at 64 kwh per year, which is adequate for the electrical needs of 6,000 average-sized homes. The farms will supply Duke Energy and Dominion North Carolina Power under fifteen-year power purchase contracts.

Google expected to outcompete AT&T in RTP fiber

Solar farm business is booming in Asheville asheville, nc

As EPA regulations continue the kibosh on traditional sources of electrical power, Innovative Solar Systems, LLC (ISS) announced it would be going public in 2015. Income raised from the sale of stock will go toward the company’s goal of constructing solar farms in all 50 states. Asheville-based ISS is already one of the

: Fletcher Town Hall

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On January 27th, Google came out with the long-awaited announcement. WRAL had been on their trail, noticing Google had completed the legal work to form a Google Fiber company in North Carolina. It had been in talks with engineers and was looking to hire drill crews. It was also in negotiations with government leaders in Raleigh and Cary for rights of way and a rezoning to accommodate fiber huts.


“For a building that is brand new, these letters fit so well, it looks like it’s been here for 50 years already.” -Mark Biberdorf, Town Manager, Fletcher, NC

Fletcher Town Hall

The Town Manager of Fletcher, NC requested a bid to sign the front of the new town hall and install way-finding signs to direct visitors. Their budget was conservative, they wanted a classic look to complement the new architecture while a ribbon-cutting deadline was fast approaching. We chose Times New Roman for the font and specified aluminum plate letters for the building. All the signage was painted to match the building’s trim and best of all, we completed the project 2 days before opening ceremonies.

Fletcher, NC


12” Tall non illuminated letter set, stud mounted with spacers. Duranodic



Pro Proposed placement and appearance

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Town Manager - Fletcher APPROVED BY:

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The Town Manager of Fletcher, NC requested a bid to sign the front of the new town hall and install way-finding signs to direct visitors. Their budget was conservative and they wanted a classic look to complement the new architecture. Best of all, we completed the project 2 days before opening ceremonies.



Proposed Fascia F Letter Set ・


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The corporation had even announced “events” for a few North Carolina cities. As expected, the events were to announce Google Fiber would soon be providing Internet and TV service in the Research Triangle at speeds on the order of gigabits per second, or 100 times faster than today’s standards. Google will spend the next few weeks making detailed maps noting where it can tie in or otherwise accommodate existing infrastructure. Construction will begin in short order, but it will take awhile to complete. For the near-term, the company only expects to hire a small Google team. Whereas AT&T’s service is expected to cost $120 per month, Google Fiber is offered for $70 in other United States cities.

BB&T acquires 41 Citibank branches winston-salem, nc

BB&T, headquartered in WinstonSalem, announced it has received approval from the FDIC and the North Carolina Office of the Commissioner of Banks to proceed with the acquisition of 41 Citibank branch offices in Texas. Located in Dallas, Houston, Midland, and Odessa, the branches combined have



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$2.3 billion in deposits and $87 million in loans on their books. Last June, BB&T acquired 21 other Texas branches, located in Austin, Bryan-College Station, and San Antonio. These held $1.2 billion in deposits and $134 million in outstanding loans. BB&T is now the twelfth largest bank in Texas, with 123 branches and $5.3 billion in deposits. Overall, the Fortune 500 company now runs 1,839 banks in 12 states and Washington, DC. It holds $186.8 billion in assets, with a market cap value of $26.8 billion.

Lives could be saved because she cared enough to put a hole in a plastic clip greensboro, nc

A simple invention in use at Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital is now being marketed for $7 a piece. The device is the brainchild of RN Cindy Beverly, who made it her mission to do something about dangers posed by spaghetti messes of feeding tubes and electric wires around patients’ beds. Working at Cone Health for 36 years, she had seen too many patients and staff members get

the old north state

injured tangling with messes of wires. She was particularly motivated after one particular patient died because he could not reach his nurse call button. Her solution began as little more than a big, plastic clothespin with a hole in it. She worked with a Charlotte designer to optimize the dimensions. It took four years for the clip to move from its original inception and through the design phase before winning the hospital’s approval for use. Tenn-Tex Plastics, located in Colfax, North Carolina, now manufactures them by the hundreds for the hospital, and Beverly is selling them through her company, Bee Safe Products.

This state’s not big enough for two Bentley dealers charlotte, nc

Felix Sabates borrowed a line from a famous Kenny Rogers song in announcing the closure of his Bentley dealership on Independence Boulevard in Charlotte. A little over a year ago, he opened the shop under threats of legal action from Geoff Eade, owner of the only other Bentley showroom in the state. Eade runs the High Point dealership, which


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Bentley has been operating since 1963. Sabates had spent $500,000 upgrading a former Mini dealership to suit his luxury line. Overall, he and his partners say the venture racked up losses in the seven digits. Sabates said there was insufficient demand to support a dealership that sold only one high-end car. New Bentleys sell for between $175,000 and $375,000. Although the site sold some used cars, the contract with the landlord limited the makes. He also performed maintenance and repairs on-site for Bentleys, Maseratis, Jaguars, Audis, and Lamborghinis. Sabates also owns a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Pineville, which he opened in 2006.

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Duke Realty Corporation downsizes portfolio research triangle park, nc

One of the Research Triangle’s largest suburban office developers, Duke Realty Corporation, is positioned to sell off $1.12 billion in properties. Office buildings in Raleigh, Nashville, St. Louis, and Southern Florida will be sold to a collaboration of Starwood Capital Group, Vanderbilt Partners, and Trinity Capital Advisors. Included in the sale are twenty-four office buildings in Morrisville, Raleigh, and Cary, not the least of which is Morrisville’s 192,225-squarefoot Perimeter Four building, with its surrounding undeveloped acreage. Perimeter Four is scheduled to open later this year. According to Duke’s chairman and CEO, Denny Oklak, the move is no fire sale. Since 2009, the company has been casually looking at downsizing its office portfolio, with all the patience in the world for a good offer to come along. Duke’s Raleigh property rents were typically $2-4 less per square foot than comparable Class-A office space. The units involved in the sale had a relatively high occupancy rate, 91.6 percent, and burdened Duke with only $40 million in debt. $920 million in the deal, which is expected to close around April 1, will be transacted in 62

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cash. The purchasers have paid a $30 million nonrefundable deposit.

NC professor works on non-flammable battery chapel hill, nc

Joseph DeSimone of UNC Chapel Hill, has partnered with Nitash Balsara of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to launch Blue Current, a company that will be marketing batteries that are safer than lithium-ion batteries now in use. The new technology utilizes an alternative, nonflammable material used for industrial lubrication as its electrolyte. The special material has the technical name perfluoropolyether (PFPE). Fluorine-based chemicals evaporate before they ignite. Current research efforts involve modifying the structure of the chemical to increase fluidity for wider applications. Currently, the slow-flowing electrolyte would work well storing energy collected by solar panels, where safety is more important to users than an immediate startup. The company has backing from the investment firm, Faster, LLC. In addition to his battery research, DeSimone works a lot researching imaging techniques for the medical industry.

Glaxo says one head is better than two research triangle park, nc

GlaxoSmithKline has decided one headquarters is sufficient for its United States operations. Left with two heads following the 2000 merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham, corporate leadership opted to centralize in Research Triangle Park as part of its latest streamlining campaign, which was favored over Philadelphia because it was home to 5,000 jobs in 35 buildings, compared to 1,500 in leased space. Furthermore, unlike his Philadelphian predecessor, new CEO Andrew Witty was expected to continue working out

of Research Triangle Park. As part of the consolidation, an estimated 1,800 jobs will be cut. Corporate spokeswoman Mary Anne Rhyne explains old models of marketing pharmaceuticals are now inefficient. With increasing caseloads, doctors now find frequent visits from sales reps unproductive. Addressing two additional problems, namely to provide a competitive edge over generic products and adjust to a slowing of the rate at which new products hit the market, the company will now organize its meds reps by specialty rather than geographical region. Since announcing $1.4 billion in cuts in 2007, GlaxoSmithKline has eliminated hundreds of North Carolina jobs in the administrative, research, sales, and manufacturing fields. Thousands have been cut worldwide.

Hospira’s loss is Pfizer’s gain rocky mount, nc

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has announced its intention to acquire Hospira’s Rocky Mount plant. The move would cost Pfizer $17 billion, a third of which would be financed. Pfizer offered $90 per share, which was more than 30 percent higher than the stock’s value. Weeks prior to the announcement, Hospira, a manufacturer of sterile injectables and biosimilars, announced it would be closing its other North Carolina plant, located in Clayton. That facility, which employed 250, had reopened in 2013 after being closed for a year. It was one of several Hospira facilities to run afoul of FDA regulations. The company, headquartered in Lake Forest, Illinois, spent $1 billion bringing its worldwide facilities up to standards. $200 million of the total was invested in the Rocky Mount plant, which employs 2,000. Pfizer estimates the acquisition will reduce its operating costs by $800 million a year by 2018. The sterile injectables industry is projected to output $70 billion in goods annually by 2020.


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Taken during the blessing of the candles for Imbolc—the half way day between winter solstice and spring equinox. Imbolc corresponds to the old Christian holiday of Candlemass and more familiarly to Groundhog Day.


| March 2015

W ICC A N M A K E THIS WOR K written by roger mccredie


photos by anthony harden

The story of Asheville’s most bewitching niche retailers

ORDINATIONS TO THE EPISCOPAL priesthood are pretty impressive ceremonies. Clergy, acolytes, and choristers from across the diocese and beyond begin the service in solemn procession complete with torchbearers, heraldic banners, and clouds of incense. Yet when the procession formed at the Cathedral of All Souls last May for the ordination of a new priest, two ladies in robes of solemn black stood out in contrast to the billowing sea of white, gold, and scarlet. One was a Unitarian Universalist minister. The other was a Wiccan priestess. There was nary an eyebrow raised. This, after all, was the modern Episcopal Church, believed by many to be among the most ecumenically liberal of Protestant denominations, and it was also Asheville, mountain tourist town turned “new age” Mecca. A couple of months later, the further emergence of Wiccan into the mainstream of Asheville culture was heralded by the appearance, on a busy corner of Merrimon Avenue, of Raven and Crone, a specialty shop devoted entirely to earth religion-related gifts, supplies, and literature. And far from being a hopeful, let’s-play-store startup by some dewy-eyed March 2015 | capitalatplay.com 65

Altar setup for the blessing of the candles

Byron Ballard, Asheville’s “Village Witch” at Raven & Crone’s Imbolc observance

groupies, it is the carefully researched brainchild of two ladies with considerable retail experience, one of whom was raised Methodist, the other Catholic. Lisa Svencicki (the Methodist) had been a social worker and later a stay-at-home mom; Kim Strobel (the Catholic) had worked as an administrator in a law firm and also had a background in retail. Their backgrounds have made them what they are today: self-confirmed witches and partners in Asheville’s only exclusively Wiccan store. An aside: “Wiccan” and “Wicca” are used throughout this piece as shorthand for a clutch of religions, belief systems, and cultures including, but not limited to, Wicca itself, Paganism, and witchcraft, which share common associations but are separate and distinct entities. “Pagan” and “paganism” usually refer simply to any non-“mainstream” religion. “Wicca” and “Wiccan” refer specifically to the set of beliefs and practices once better known as “witchcraft,” but the terms, over centuries, became laden with a lot of negative baggage. (Can you say “Inquisition,” boys and girls? “Joan of Arc”? “Salem”?) Now, since all Wiccans—or witches—are Pagans but not all Pagans are witches, it would probably be more semantically accurate to describe Raven and 66

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Lisa and Kim saw the runic writing on the wall and decided the time was right to create a retail source that could serve the whole spectrum of Asheville’s growing alternative religion communities and also to cross-market to the general public.

Crone as a Pagan establishment, but, as we shall see, “Wiccan” more accurately describes its target demographic. In recent decades a saying has arisen that there are probably more Wiccans in the woods of Southern Appalachia than there are rabbits. The sentiment may be fairly new, but the fact it addresses is as old as human habitation of these mountains. The pantheism of the Cherokee testifies to that. So does the fact that the “old religion” lived cheek by jowl with, and was often the unseen partner of, the fundamentalist brand of Protestantism that Scots-Irish pioneers brought with them to these hills. (They, in turn, had brought this duality with them from their Celtic homelands, as opposed to the New England Puritans, who brought with them only their Bibles, their blunderbusses, and a singular lack of humor.) Writing for the website Witches&Pagans.com, Hank Eder elaborated:

There is deep magick in these woods. A confluence of cultures mixed and mingled, merging their knowledge of Earth and Her ways into a mélange unique to this enigmatic land. Native shamans once roamed these woods; Africans brought here as slaves brought their tears—and their traditions. The Faerie folk followed the Scots and Irish to these lush mountains and valleys and their paths of power remain to this day all across the South, hidden in plain sight among March 2015 | capitalatplay.com 67

Blessing of the candles 68

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A pentacle, familiar Pagan symbol

the steeples of the ubiquitous churches. Another name for this part of America is the “Bible Belt.” Its people are rooted in the traditions of their ancestors. Life moves more slowly here than Up North, and religious belief systems are firmly entrenched. The wise women and crones, the healers, the old Southern Witches and Hoodoo Men all share the towns, woods, swamps, hills, and valleys with their Christian neighbors. Some are not shy to share their gifts with their neighbors. Others hide in the “broom closet” for fear of losing their jobs or being victims of deep prejudice. Luckily that is changing, even here where things like to stay the same. Pagans are stepping out into the larger community, showing their neighbors that they are not to be feared, that they are more alike than different. The words “Southern” and “Pagan” are no longer oxymorons.

Beginning in the late 1980s, Western North Carolina, with Asheville as its hub, began to attract, along with swarms of other people, a significant number of “new agers” searching for new and different takes on spirituality, value systems, and lifestyles. It was about that time that an open interest in Wicca, March 2015 | capitalatplay.com 69

Functional Celtic drinking horns complete with stands

Raven & Crone’s gift selection draws from many different cultures

Essential oils and crystals


| March 2015

Paganism, and other “alternative” belief systems began openly to gain traction. Now, scholars are quick to point out that there is nothing new or futuristic about these persuasions. On the contrary, as Father Brendan Pelfrey, a priest in an Orthodox Church in America commented in 2010:

Wicca is not really New Age. “New Age” (which today is becoming known as post-modernism) looks forward to the creation of new spiritualities, chiefly by combining elements of many other traditions. Wicca, on the other hand, along with various forms of Paganism, looks backward to certain religious practices—or at least supposed practices and mythologies—from the past. That being said, Wicca and NeoPaganism mingle with New Age especially when we think of such things as crystal therapy, developing “positive energies,” or worshiping Celtic divinities.

In other words, many among Asheville’s influx of New Agers cared less about the pedigree of Wicca or Paganism than about the opportunity it seemed to afford for a new means of spiritual self-expression. The enthusiasm and outspokenness of the “new wave” also served to encourage older, traditional practitioners, who might have inherited their craft across many generations, to come out of the broom closet. Locally at least two covens emerged from the shadows, began inviting the public to attend and even join in some of their larger celebrations, and even became involved in city politics—as when one coven literally blocked access to an ancient ma g nol ia tre e nea r City Hall which was in danger of succumbing to a developer’s plans to build a hotel on the site. (The tree is still there; the hotel plans are not.) Between the national trend and the emerging local recognition, Lisa and Kim saw the runic writing on the wall and decided the time was right to create a retail source that could serve the whole spectrum of Asheville’s growing alternative religion

A Book of Shadows, or witch’s journal, is an ornately bound volume usually holding blank pages for entering recipes, spells, divinations, family secrets, “and anything else a witch can think of.”

March 2015 | capitalatplay.com


communities and also to cross-market to the general public. “Kim had been monitoring this whole trend,” Lisa says, “and we came up with this idea: Although we were looking primarily at witches as a target audience, why not do a spin on the usual “witch store” theme and do a sort of onestop-shop outlet for all the different belief systems? In addition to carrying the various staples that Wiccans and Pagans need for their various rituals, we could throw in some gifts and jewelry that would appeal across the board to folks who were not—or not yet—members of an alternative religion but were interested in the idea.” So that was what they did. Raven and Crone opened on July 14, 2014, thus joining some two dozen other Wiccan-Pagan—“Occult” retailers operating across North Carolina, from Murphy to Southport. “We originally considered opening in West Asheville,” Lisa says, “but we thought we’d be lost in the gentrification shuffle over there and parking was almost non-existent. We were lucky enough

to find this place; there’s a lot of Wiccan interest in North Asheville, and besides we’re right on Merrimon, which makes us easy to get to from anywhere—and we’ve got great parking.” (“Here” is the lower floor of a two-story brick house on the corner of Merrimon and Farrwood Avenues that was most recently home to a wine dealer.) Why “Raven and Crone”? “Ravens have a special place in Wicca, in fact in most of the old religions,” Kim explains. “They’re messengers and also keepers of wisdom. Edgar Allen Poe knew that. And in Norse mythology the god Odin has a pair of ravens—one on each shoulder—who every morning fly off in opposite directions, see everything that’s going on in the world, and come back and light on his shoulders in the evening and tell him the news. That’s also why they’ve kept ravens at the Tower of London ever since it was built nearly a thousand years ago, and there’s a legend that if the ravens ever leave, the tower will fall.” Raven and Crone’s logo depicts a raven holding in its beak

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symbols from pentacles (the five-pointed star associated with witchcraft) to Celtic Christian crosses. Dried herbs—each with its own magical property—are present as well as a mind boggling assortment of scented candles. There are figurines and totems from cultures worldwide, from Africa to South America. There are even Viking-style drinking horns with their own stands. And there’s a wide array of fragrances used in both aromatherapy and in the casting of spells. (Kim dabs a drop or two from a tiny vial onto a cotton ball. “Smell this,” she says. The scent is evasive but pleasant, somewhat musky, sort of lemony, and something else. “Please,” she says, handing over the vial, “keep it.” The tiny bottle’s label reads, “Maiden’s Ruin.” It goes into a handy pocket.) “Since we opened, we’ve managed to establish a pretty good core customer base,” says Kim, “and it keeps expanding. We did a really brisk business around Yuletide—Christmas—and we seem to be picking up new regulars all the time. And not just established Wiccans and Pagans. Almost every day at least one customer will come in and look around and say, ‘I’m a Christian, but I love this or that.’ They see we aren’t the scary things of fairy tales, and they’re fascinated. “We considered putting up a discreet little sign that said, ‘Unruly children will be eaten,’” she grins, “but we decided not to press our luck.”

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a key. “That just sort of came to us,” says Lisa. “We saw the key as the access to mysteries and knowledge, and since the raven, as the custodian of such things, we thought it would be appropriate to depict them both together.” The key also appears by itself on Raven & Crone’s store bags. As for “crone,” the word has a specific meaning in Wicca. The old religion is matriarchal—one reason why it appeals in particular to feminists—and its stages of life and personal development are maiden (girlhood), mother (maturity and nurturing), and crone (wisdom and mentoring). “It’s the original trinity,” Kim says. So “crone” is a designation and has nothing to do with a general term for a haglike creature? “No,” says Kim, “That would be… a hag.” So what’s on offer at Raven & Crone? Well, first, Wiccan and Pagan necessities such as altar tables and tiles, chalices, cast iron cauldrons, tumbled stones, crystal balls, wands, ceremonial daggers, and blank Books of Shadows. (A Book of Shadows, or witch’s journal, is an ornately bound volume usually holding blank pages for entering recipes, spells, divinations, family secrets, “and anything else a witch can think of.”) There are also books on divination and dreams, spellcraft, healing, herbs, and Wicca and Paganism in general. There’s an extensive line of jewelry, from pendants to earrings, featuring

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Exit strategy? How a Passion for Cycling Explains the Importance of Advance Directives


wendy is a

physician at The Family Health Centers, the largest independent family practice in Western North Carolina.



HAT’S YOUR EXIT strategy?” a new friend asked me at supper last month. Our conversation was about our hobbies and passions, which for me always leads to extreme statements like, “bicycling is my savior.” I don’t enjoy thinking about how I would find joy in my life if cycling was taken away from me. My answer was “fishing and boating,” but my thoughts unfortunately turned, and headed down the road of reflecting on aging, the loss of health, loss of function, and our common path toward decline. I’m a family physician. I’ve been with my practice, The Family Health Centers, on a journey with my patients since 1995. I see my patients’ bodies decline. I feel my own body starting to decline. How do I face this? How do I guide them when I have not been there myself? I do the best I can. I learn from my patients and the stories of their lives. I learn from my friends, family, and mentors in medicine. My father was a passionate eccentric (some would say 74

| March 2015

crazy) physician who, like many physicians, never considered retirement or that he might have an illness. My mother was his balance with intelligence and good sense that led to his success. I’m the youngest of their children so they choose me as their Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA) and full Durable Power of Attorney (POA) just as they entered their roller coaster of decline. I’d love to tell the adult children of my aging patients that being the point person for their parents’ medical and financial care is fun and easy and no big deal. But, it wasn’t and isn’t usually. I suspect only a few of us are blessed with organized compulsive parents who plan ahead and clean up their lives before the decline. I have great, smart, considerate siblings, so my parents could have picked any of their children to direct their lives. As the youngest, I was the last to leave the home and knew the older version of them a little better than my siblings. I also have no children myself. Perhaps since my parents were relatively older, it was natural that we had conversations over the years about


their vision of themselves in the later years. I knew their wishes well. They really didn’t have to write it down. They picked me as HCPOA. They knew that I knew. My father wanted nothing to do with not being able to work, innovate, pursue hobbies, and drink beer. He could never envision himself as disabled in mind or body. My mother’s main goal was to not ruin any of her children’s lives. She had worked and sacrificed herself (stayed married to my father and quit law school) for her children’s success. “Put me in a nursing home and go on with your lives.” My father had been fairly out of control for several years with active alcoholism and probably a list of untreated mental illnesses. But, with my mother’s skills, they did well. Then mother’s mind went. Untethered, father led them in to an enormous financial mess and then his mind headed yet further into dysfunction. My mother knew her cognitive function was inadequate and asked for help and stepped out of managing their lives. Her decline was slow, passive, and peaceful. Parkinson’s Disease. My father had no insight into his dysfunction and his behavior became increasingly bizarre. Timing is ever ything. As HCPOA and Durable POA, you can only step in and take over as your parents allow. HCPOA and Durable POA are not guardianships. You can speak for your parents but they can also speak for themselves. As my father’s mind dysfunction progressed, I met with a lawyer to see if guardianship was possible. The legal definition of incompetence, however, is almost impossible to obtain if a person is functioning independently. He was still a practicing physician.

Nationally, 18% of adults have an Advanced Directive such as a Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney, MOST form, or a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order. That is an interesting statistic given that 100% of us will die.

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Eventually, there was a breakthrough. He was malfunctioning just enough to believe me when I said, “hey, let’s move you and mom back up to North Carolina. You will be around the grandkids, and we’ll go into practice together.” I drove down to Florida within a day and picked them up before he could change his mind. We siblings set them up in an apartment near my brother. I hired my father an “assistant” to keep him occupied with tasks tied to setting up our new imaginary practice. My mother had a caregiver who cooked and helped her dress and stay clean. My brother checked on them daily. Their youngest grandchild got to be with them often. I proceeded to sell their home and business which provided the money for their care. We talked daily of work and the practice we were to have together. I got him flying lessons. They both continued their decline but with safety nets in place. We moved them to a higher level of care when timing was right.

A couple of years later when he was suddenly septic and near death, at a hospital the admitting internist recommended immediate dialysis. I said, “my father has dementia so bad that he can’t work or play or remember when family has visited.

I said, “hey, let’s move you and mom back up to North Carolina. You will be around the grandkids, and we’ll go into practice together.” I hired my father an “assistant” to keep him occupied with tasks tied to setting up our new imaginary practice.



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No.” We asked for hospice care and brought him back to their assisted living center with his wife. My sister and mother were with him when he died at their apartment. Mother continued her slow decline until she could no longer move, speak, nor eat. It was painful to watch. With a Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST) form to guide her care at the Skilled



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W Nursing Facility, an infection finally came along that we did not treat and she died. Nationally, 18% of adults have an Advanced Directive such as a Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney, MOST form, or a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order. That is an interesting statistic given that 100% of us will die. I participate in the Western North Carolina Advanced Care Planning initiative, which has a grant to help create community systems that help people complete an Advanced Directive. There are many barriers that keep people from completing an Advanced Directive. First of all, death and health decline are not pleasant things to think about or talk to our loved ones about. It is a difficult conversation. Here in North Carolina, Living Wills and Health Care Power of Attorney documents require a notarized signature with two witnesses. It seems challenging enough for most people to take the time to talk with their loved ones and complete a form about end of life. Then they have to organize a trip to a notary with witnesses. Your family physician is the perfect person to have a conversation with regarding Advanced Directives. Unfortunately, visits with your physician are not often structured to allow time for this discussion. I tell my patients, “we don’t get a choice how we leave this world, but if we are blessed with an option to leave quickly and

painlessly once our joys have left us, we should not pass up the opportunity.” Complete an Advance Directive. Pick a HCPOA who knows your vision for life and is emotionally strong enough to honor your vision. Consider a MOST form or DNR to guide caregivers once life’s joy is gone or nearly gone. I have an exit strategy from cycling, but hope I won’t have to implement it for many years. I’ve also had an Advanced Directive and HCPOA since I was 30 and revise it periodically as I enter different stages of my life. I have no children but have friends and siblings designated as my HCPOA who know my vision of my life and who can take over when I can no longer direct my care. I urge you to plan your “exit strategy” while you are in the best of possible health. In the meantime, savor every mile. You may not be able to see the end of the road, but you do have the power to choose some of the turns near the end.

Wendy is a physician at The Family Health Centers, the largest independent family practice in Western North Carolina. Ideally, an Advanced Directive should be completed as early in life as possible and when there is no health crisis.

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news briefs

Oil prices and financial markets texas

As February begins, oil prices posted their greatest one-week gain since 2011. Fracking has been great for putting downward pressure on prices, though savings from lower fuel prices have yet to materialize anywhere but at the pump. As with any watershed innovation, though, there’s a downside, and this time it was that oil prices have collapsed to the extent that drillers have decided that, in some instances, even fracking isn’t worth the investment. In January, as oil companies and their affiliates strove to remain profitable, 94 rigs were pulled out of United States fields, leaving only 1,223 in operation. Statoil of Norway cut


its losses and abandoned a $350 million drilling operation in Angola. According to some projections, $150 billion in projects could be deferred industry-wide. ConocoPhillips made headlines when it announced it would be cutting spending by 20 percent, but shale drillers Oasis Petroleum and Goodrich Petroleum had already announced cuts closer to 50 percent. Meanwhile, Schlumberger, Baker Hughes, and Halliburton, big names in the oil industry, have announced layoffs that combined total 13,000. Helmerich & Payne is seriously considering cutting 2,000 jobs, having received 22 notices of early cancellation from rig contractors. Chevron, meanwhile, is delaying the release of its budget as it weighs options like drilling budget cuts, suspended share buybacks, layoffs, or all of the above. Some economists note it

is only a matter of time for steel prices to follow suit and collapse. Meanwhile, OPEC leaders remain committed to keeping output constant. They argue the deep cuts are indicative of prices hitting rock-bottom and speak of $200 a barrel prices in the near future.

Will Apple dominate downloadable music? cupertino, california

Apple’s recent purchase of Semetric has sparked speculation. The world’s largest publicly-traded company, in characteristic fashion, avoided sharing its intentions. What is known is that Apple will be launching a music streaming product later this year. Semetric specializes in music analytics, and it has in the past worked with Spotify. A 14 percent drop in iTunes sales last year indicated consumers preferred to stream their music through Spotify or Pandora. Apple isn’t expected to cut the streaming companies out of its App Store; it would lose tens of millions of customers in doing so. However, interoperability with competitors’ products is not consistent with Apple’s emphasis on brand loyalty.


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New space race to provide internet for all silicon valley, california

By 2018, the digital divide should be a thing of the past. In December Greg Wyler, who has a history of starting up companies to connect disadvantaged populations, launched four more O3b satellites into an array 5,000 feet above the earth’s surface. More launches are in the works to improve coverage and internet speeds. The technology is currently about as crude as AOL was in the old days, but it provides a service Pacific Islanders and cruise lines like Royal Caribbean could otherwise get at one-twelfth the speed and ten times the cost. O3b now enjoys the greatest market share of any service provider in the Pacific. As Wyler continues to build on the existing system, which should break even mid-year, he is soliciting investors for a more ambitious project. By launching 648 satellites to an altitude of 750 miles, digital data will be transmissible between any two points on the globe in no more than 20 milliseconds, which is sufficient for any existing application. Placed atop a school or other public building, an antenna, described as



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being the size of an automobile tire and hardy enough to be covered in mud and keep working, can provide service over a 200-mile radius. Two companies, Teledesic and SkyBridge, attempted the technology ten years ago without success. Wyler attributes the failures to missing technological links that are now available. But Wyler may not be the first to achieve his dream; Elon Musk at SpaceX has expressed intentions to beat him to the punch.

national & world

the last year averaged a five percent increase in sales. In just the last quarter, Starbucks opened 512 stores, making significant inroads in East Asian markets. The store’s rewards program claims over nine million members, and reportedly one in seven Americans received a Starbucks gift card for the holidays.

BLS: unions sagging in popularity washington, dc

Coffee with a hip factor? Priceless

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data indicate the percentage of American workers belonging to labor unions is seattle, washington lower than it has been in a century. 14.6 million laborers, or 11.1 percent of the Midway through 2014, Starbucks workforce, are maintaining memberannounced it would be raising prices on ship. Three decades ago, 17.7 million certain beverages by $0.05 to $0.20 and Americans were allied, representing 20.1 on bags of coffee by as much as $1.00. percent of the workforce. 35.7 percent The cult of coffee saw no other way to deal of government workers were unionized, with a 50 percent increase in the price compared to 6.6 percent in the private of Arabica beans. Now that the numbers sector. Public-sector occupations with are in, store traffic and average register the highest rate of unionization included sales were found to have increased, educators, indicating the brand speaks louder than Introducing The trainers, librarians, police, and firefighters. Highly-unionized pridollars and cents. Chain-wide, sales vate-sector industries included utilities, increased $4.8 billion, or 13 percent. trucking, and construction. At the other Stores that didn’t spring into being in

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end of the spectrum were agriculture, finance, tech support, and food service. The most-unionized and least-unionized states from 2013 maintained their crowns. New York had the highest rate, 24.6 percent; and North Carolina had the lowest, 1.9 percent.

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NCR patents system of cameras to replace checkout lines

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In January, NCR, which stands for National Cash Register, went public with a patent to eliminate checkout lines. The technology would work without smart carts or shopper-held scanners. Both those technologies have proven too cost-prohibitive for market entry. Instead, the new system would use several small cameras. Upon entering a store, cameras would link a shopper with the cart he selects. Cameras on the shelves would note what the shopper picks up; cameras in the cart monitor what goes in. The system is smart enough to keep track of items if the shopper decides to rearrange his cart, or if he decides he doesn’t want something and “returns” it to the wrong shelf. When he’s made his final selections, the shopper could use a debit card or a smartphone to connect his bundle of goods to his bank account. Data gathered by the camera, on such details as how much a particular shopper lingers or changes his mind, will then supply analytics to marketers and other interested parties. It can also be used to control inventory.

What will Musk do with all those batteries? storey county, nevada

Tesla Motors is going to enter the battery business. The move, which would seem ill-advised by most any standard,

SEW SWISS has industry watchers scratching their heads. The Gigafactory, scheduled to open in Nevada in 2017, is expected to become the world’s largest manufactory for batteries, with the capacity to output more than Tesla cars could use. The lithium-ion batteries it will produce are important for all sorts of electronics in the digital age. The problem is that no redesign offering a technical edge over existing batteries is proposed. The only advantage would be savings on an in-house supply line and economies of scale. But the battery business isn’t exactly hopping. Panasonic, which will be Tesla’s Gigafactory partner, like others in today’s battery business, is experiencing low profit margin, single-digit sales. And that is better than battery companies A123 Systems and Ener1, which recently filed for bankruptcy before becoming operational. Other manufacturers sustain battery production as a minor initiative of a diversified conglomerate. Representatives from Tesla and Panasonic project the Gigafactory will lower battery costs by 30 percent, and analysts are wondering why Elon Musk, with his amazing track record for big success, wants to flood the battery market.

Shake Shack on the rise new york city

As one report put it, Shake Shack sizzled while McDonald’s fizzled. Many Americans had never heard of the brand until it went public January 30. News outlets were jammed with coverage of Shake Shack executives cheering their first day. Observers thought a $21 IPO was a tad high for a burger chain with only 63 stores. Danny Meyer’s boutique burger biz was faulted for tying to be the next Chipotle with fewer menu items and less buildout. The Mexican grill had bucked all trends in its meteoric stock-market rise. Its stock, valued at

$22 per share in 2006, traded at $714.53 the day before Shake Shack went public. As it turned out, on the first day Shake Shack shares maxed at $52.49 in early trading and raised $105 million for the company. Shake Shack is a burger joint, but it is branded as casual dining to appeal to young, affluent hipsters. It uses only humanely-treated beef, offers a veggie burger, and sells its own beer and wine. McDonald’s has been faulted for not moving with market signals. McCEO Donald Thompson recently announced he would step down amidst gloomy prospects following five consecutive quarters of declining earning.

Electrons crowding out pencil and paper

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Staples has announced it will be acquiring competitor Office Depot for $6.3 billion. The deal comes a year after Office Depot merged with Office Max. Industry analysts identified three incentives for consolidation: (1) Shopper convenience in unspecialized discount stores like Wal-Mart, Target, and Amazon; (2) electronic data transfers replacing the need for pencil and paper; and (3) belt-tightening most industries have experienced with the recession. The market for office supplies has been described as having too many stores with too little business. After closing about 360 stores, the new office giant expects to bring in $39 billion in annual sales. The two office supply retailers attempted a merger twenty years ago, but the move was prevented by the FTC. It is believed the regulator’s perception of changing times that played into allowing the Depot-Max merger will still bear sway. A fourth incentive speculated was a substantial purchase of stock by Starboard Value LP, a hedge fund notorious for shaking up its investments.


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capital adventurist



photos shown by Brad T. Miller


| March 2015



written by garrett gourley

in North Carolina and beyond…

Fear can drive us to do amazing things, and one of the by-products produced by fear is adrenaline— one of the most intense sensations possible. The thrill of taking risks, engaging in activities that elicit that instinctual fear as a function of self preservation, is something indescribable. It is a rush that is often unattainable otherwise. Downhill longboarding can give you that fear, providing the rider with such a feeling of awe that they can’t wait to get back to the mountain top and “bomb” back down again. March 2015 | capitalatplay.com 83

capital adventurist

Sliding through a turn, photo by Thomas Richmond

b a c kg r o u n d Skateboarding originated in Hawaii during the late ’60s. When the waves did not offer ideal surfing conditions, surfers took to the asphalt with skateboards. Since then, the skateboarding genre has birthed many different categories, longboarding being the one derived from the islands and taking root during the ’70s, along with street, vert, and freestyle skating (all close cousins to downhill longboarding). Most of its forms remained unrecognized, and even frowned upon as a sport until the ’90s when some of the first professional skateboarders emerged onto the public scene. Skateboarding then became somewhat infamous as it grew connected to the outcast characters of society, the folks who didn’t fit into regular team sports and who used public spaces to ride. As one of the fastest growing skateboarding variants, 21st century longboarding has changed remarkably since its first appearance. Now hundreds of companies direct their focus towards creating and producing high-quality decks, wheels, safety equipment, and other accessories readily available online or at local shops, and the sport is constantly evolving. It even possesses its own jargon: sliding, bombing, tucking, drafting, freeriding, and pushing are just a few terms. There’s an international community of longboarding that exists 84

| March 2015

basic terms D E C K W I T H G R I P TA P E











Proper tucking position requires placing your chest on your knee at the front of the board and angling your back foot and back knee into a position against the front calf muscle. Mastering the tuck means being aerodynamic.

By leaning and shifting your weight into a curve in the road, the trucks under the deck are forced to articulate and steer the board in that same direction. The position looks unbalanced, but centrifugal force keeps your body firmly stuck to the board.


The act of going down hills is referred to as “bombing� hills.


Rapidly turning your board from left to right, without sliding, to shave off speed.


Using your back foot to literally push off the asphalt, making the board move at a faster pace. foot braking

Taking your back foot off of the skateboard and dragging it on the road to regulate your speed.

Riders drafting down Elk Mountain

s l i d i n g (a form of braking) Pushing the skateboard out and drifting by falling down onto your left or right hand and using glove slide-pucks on the ground as support to break traction.


A non-competitive approach to downhill longboarding. Typically freeriding consists of frequent carving and sliding down the entire road out of pure enjoyment. drafting

By following closely behind another skater you decrease your own wind resistance. This allows you to increase your speed and aerodynamic efficiency.

March 2015 | capitalatplay.com 85

capital adventurist

worldwide and is very broad, involving professionals and amateurs. All share the passion for “bombing” hills, and through this bond a growing, diverse, and eclectic group is forming.

t e s t i n g t h e wat e r s But this sport isn’t your typical after-work activity. The rewards are big and the risks are high. Wiping out at speeds exceeding 40 mph means losing skin and injuring body parts. Blind corners, guard rails, pot holes, and debris all pose serious hazards even when skaters are protected. Longboarding requires wearing safety equipment, including a full face helmet and slide gloves as a minimum, while kneepads and elbow pads are highly recommended for a beginner. Because longboarding is an individual sport, you can learn at your own pace, which is often necessary considering the risks involved. Growing accustomed to the prerequisites such as braking and turning are vital basics in order to progress further in the sport. Beginners should never skate onto an open road where speeds average 40 mph, even reaching 50 mph, and above. Baby steps are crucial. In order to maintain safe control while longboarding, sliding and braking techniques are practiced and honed alongside the skater’s progression in other skill areas, including higher speeds and steeper mountains. Sliding consists of pushing the skateboard out and drifting by falling down onto the left or right hand and using glove slide-pucks on the ground as support to break traction. This technique is beneficial for 86

| March 2015

slowing down and takes practice to develop the proper form. Another braking technique is known as the foot brake, which involves taking the back foot off of the skateboard and dragging it on the road to regulate your speed. Tucking is another essential technique for longboarding. Mastering the tuck means being aerodynamic. The proper tucking position requires placing the chest on the knee at the front of the board and angling the back foot and back knee into a position against the front calf muscle. Getting the form right takes practice. Maintaining this form on multiple-mile downhill runs, often lasting three to six minutes, takes training and endurance. Once the proper sliding, braking, tucking, and turning are developed, the goal is to hit the streets and practice these techniques.

t h e n o rt h c a ro l i n a d ow n h i l l s k at e b o a r d i n g s c e n e Compared to the steep, straighter roads out west in the Rocky Mountains, the Southern Appalachian mountain roads are more winding and gradual. The lack of elevation doesn’t affect the level or intensity of skateboarding. However, one unfavorable tendency does occur on these east coast roads, gravel deposits, especially on unpaved and older quality roads. Riders here have found ways to work around these road-quality issues. They use topographic maps or simply go and seek roads firsthand. Local riders become local road experts on their home turf. Each road holds different obstacles, and requires

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skaters to develop different approaches and techniques that put all of their skills to the test. From skating down long, six-mile courses, to shooting down shorter and more technical roads, local skaters are pronouncing the options and varieties all around Western North Carolina as seemingly endless. Here in North Carolina, the longboarding community is spread throughout the piedmont and mountain areas. An effort put forth by the locals in Boone, which helped to unify and shed light on the North Carolina scene, is now known as North Carolina Downhill (NCDH). Through the media and events, NCDH has gained popular recognition for organizing the skate scene in North Carolina. Compared to areas such as California, longboarding remains on a much smaller scale in North Carolina but with a vast upward potential for growth. Since longboarding depends on roads, both public and residential, the skaters seek the respect and approval of the communities. The reputations of the skate groups are in high regard. If, for example, skaters are confronted by annoyed residents in a certain area, that road will understandably be considered “blown,” or no longer skate-able. Open roads are the obvious preferred outcome in new target skate areas so good relationships are emphasized. The roads that Western North Carolina offers vary in a similar way to ski slopes. We have everything from beginner slopes all the way to what could be called double black diamonds. Tapping into the local knowledge typically guarantees a good skate experience. A rookie climber wouldn’t just go rock climbing out in the wilderness without a tour guide. He couldn’t locate the ideal rock climbing spots nor would he know all the potential dangers of unfamiliar territory. The same principle applies to downhill skateboarding. If it sounds difficult to get in touch with the local skateboarding residents in an area, you might be surprised. It’s fairly simple to join one of the longboarding groups on Facebook in a specific city or town. Boone Longboarding, Longboard Asheville, and Charlotte Longboarding are a few examples. Based on experience levels, locals can find safe spots to go and grow.

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gearing up Similar to other sports, the technology and gear of the sport is constantly advancing due to the innovation of the longboarding industry; from using spare wood or even 2x4s in the ’70s, to the flawless, machine-made composite material skateboards being created today. All of the various factors going into the design of the decks, trucks, and wheels today center on one objective: speed. Speed is nearly everything in downhill skateboarding (at least in the competitive circles), so it is a dominant factor in the production of equipment. The use of holes for aerodynamics, carbon fiber for durability, and polyurethane wheels all contribute to the fastest, lightest skateboard setups available. An ideal board setup, especially for a beginner, consists of the following items: choice of deck (the platform in which the skater stands on), the trucks and bushings (components used for turning), and the actual wheels and bearings. There are many different details within these three areas to consider as well. Does the skater want a longer board (above a 26-inch wheelbase) for stability, or smaller for agility? Would it be more beneficial to ride all-grip, fast wheels or a smaller, driftier wheel? All of these options are completely up to the individual who can be assisted by sales people at most nearby skate shops. Local skate shops are, however, losing customers daily as they compete against or convert into the online longboarding market. Local shops do provide shoppers with a place to go and come into contact with other skaters, learn more about the sport, and support the local business scene.

p u s h i n g th e b o u n da r i e s For some folks, skateboarding and longboarding seem dangerous. Physically, the athletes risk frequent, even severe, injuries; philosophically, observers regard skating activity as rebellious, immature, antisocial, even malicious and harmful with regard to attitudes and public property. Unfortunately, many people who see skateboarding negatively may have misinterpreted the true reason this sport is practiced across the globe. Laguna Beach, California, for example, has recently imposed a city ordinance banning the act of skateboarding on public roads and other areas. This ban is primarily due to the recent surge in popularity that longboarding received, especially out west. Few in the skate community see the act of skating in public areas as a statement against society or as a means to injure themselves, but rather as a sport which combines positive feelings, uses outside spaces, and produces an adrenaline rush simultaneously. Skating provides a form of self expression that signifies a personal style. A way around some of these above mentioned restrictions may be through better organized downhill racing. More recently, local skate groups are partnering with international organizations. These collaborations enable longboarders to sanction roads 88

| March 2015

and hold races on them legally. Among these organizations, the International Downhill Federation (IDF) has recently risen to the top, replacing the older, International Gravity Sports Association (IGSA). Alongside downhill skateboarding, street luge and classic luge have also been added to these venues. There are three divisions: juniors (17 and under), open, and women’s. Each division consists of international riders, both professional and amateur. Races range geographically from North and South America and all over Europe—wherever there are good hills and roads. Course speeds have been clocked at speeds as high as 75 mph. Racers make it their goal to attend as many competitions as possible. Taking place in Mount Jefferson State Park (in Ashe county), North Carolina, on April 18th-19th will be a much anticipated, first-ever city sanctioned downhill race, hosted by NCDH. A compelling side effect of this particular race will be the positive publicity it generates for North Carolina downhill longboarding— in this state, on the east coast, and in the Americas. Hopefully, North Carolina’s next race will attract the top spectators from all over the world. The race will require the entire state park to be closed to traffic, and it will attract riders and spectators from states around the country. The race is being held with the ultimate goal of raising awareness for the sport all across North Carolina. If you ever witness some downhill action in your neighborhood, or on a winding mountain road, take a moment to stop and watch them make a run. Better yet, go online or visit your local skate shop to meet some of the people in the know. You might get talked into an adrenaline rush of your own. Just remember that as with any other sport that requires a balance of finesse, skill, and luck, and no shortage of “cajones,” approach it carefully.

Taking place in Mount Jefferson State Park, North Carolina, on April 18th-19th will be the much anticipated, first ever sanctioned downhill race, hosted by NCDH. The race will require the entire state park to be closed to traffic, and it will attract riders from around the country.


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EVENTS march 2 - 30

March Fiber Madness During regular library hours Blowers Gallery, Ramsey Library, UNC Asheville, Asheville, NC The Fiber Arts Alliance will be showcasing some of its handiwork. The group is a local bee of approximately 150 members welcoming handicrafters working with any form of fiber. On display will be quilts, apparel, accessories, dolls, and other forms of art. Craftspersons will be on-hand for engaging conversation. A reception will be held at the gallery on March 5, from 6-8pm.

> Free > libguides.unca.edu/blowersgallery

march 5 - 9

Socon Basketball US Cellular Center & Kimmel Arena at UNC Asheville, Asheville, NC In its 95th season, the Southern Conference will afford opportunities for intercollegiate competition in a number of athletic events. This year, Asheville is once again honored to host the basketball tournaments. A number of fun and charitable activities will be held in conjunction with the games. Kimmel Arena was also selected for the wrestling tournaments, which will take place on March 7.

>Tickets: All Sessions $100, Single Session $10-17

> soconsports.com march 7

Park in the Moonlight 7-­10pm Chimney Rock State Park

march 4

Brevard Music Center First Mondays Concert 12:30pm Porter Center, 1 Brevard College Dr, Brevard, NC Cellist Alistair MacRae will treat audiences to his rich and melodious interpretations of Bach and Cassado. MacRae has performed throughout the world in a variety of contexts. In addition to serving on the Brevard Music Center faculty, he is a music professor at Princeton and the College of New Jersey, traveling to teach master classes as time permits. First Mondays are presented by the Brevard Music Center in partnership with Brevard College.

> Free > 828-862-2100 or brevardmusic.org

The whole family is invited to experience the beauty of Chimney Rock State Park under the stars. Activities will include campfire stories, an educational program “Creatures of the Night,” star gazing, and a ranger-guided tour to the rock and back. This event is ADA accessible and limited to the first fifty vehicles pre-registered.

> $10 donation per car > 800-277-9611 or


march 8

Marshall Crenshaw with The Bottle Rockets 8pm Grey Eagle, 185 Clingman Ave, Asheville, NC Singer, song-writer, guitarist Marshall Crenshaw has played John Lennon


| March 2015

and Buddy Holly on the silver screen. His own recordings may not have gone much farther than hometown Detroit, but notables like Carrie Underwood and the Gin Blossoms have covered some of his compositions. “’Til I Hear It from You” charted on Billboard at #11. His title track for the 2007 film Walk Hard was nominated for Golden Globe’s Best Original Song.

>Tickets: Advance $15, Door $18 > 828-232-5800 or thegreyeagle.com march 6 -7

Asheville Train Show

Friday noon-7pm | Saturday 9am-5pm

WNC Ag Center, 1301 Fanning Bridge Rd, Fletcher, NC Vendors will be sharing their collections on over 180 tables. Displays include collectibles, prototypes, and artifacts. There will be at least ten layouts. Some will be up and running; the largest one steam-powered. Technical experts will be available to help with repairs and testing. Theme-related amusements will keep kids busy. The show is the WNC Model Railroaders’ annual fundraiser; a portion of the proceeds will fund the organization’s outreach to students at Eliada Home.

> Admission: Adult $5, 12 and under free with adult

> Fred Coleman at 828-699-0983 or asheville-trainshow.com

march 12

Peter Yarrow 8pm Tryon Fine Arts Center, 34 Melrose Avenue, Tryon, NC The Peter from Peter, Paul & Mary will play folk songs from the last half-century as he shares stories reflecting on musical pop culture from the different eras. The

audience will sing along to favorites like “Puff the Magic Dragon” and “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” and Yarrow hopes participants will gain a sense of why old songs like these are important for appreciating the here and now as well as shaping the future.

> Admission: $30 > 828-859-8322 or tryonarts.org march 12 - 29

“The Wizard Of Oz: Young Performers’ Edition” Fridays 7pm Saturdays 2pm & 7pm | Sundays 2pm Flat Rock Playhouse Downtown, 125 South Main St, Hendersonville, NC This American classic needs no introduction. Of interest will be how youths from all walks of life in Western North Carolina interpret the oddball cast of characters, from the cheery Munchkins to the scary flying monkeys. The play will last an hour.

march 13

Environmental Threats to Western NC’s Forests 10am Trinity Episcopal Church, Tuton Hall, Asheville, NC Important topics related to the overall health of the national forests in Western North Carolina will be discussed by, Lisa Jennings from the U.S. Forest Service in North Carolina, Sarah Workman from the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Center, and Josh Kelly from the nonprofit Mountain True (formerly WNC Alliance). They will also tell us about what efforts are in place to control or eliminate some of these threats. The program will be moderated by dedicated hiker and national park preservationist Stephen Woody. This event is sponsored by the French Broad River Garden Club Foundation, the program is designed to highlight critical environmental threats which may dramatically change the national forests for future generations.

>Tickets: Adult $18, Student $10 > 828-693-0731 or flatrockplayhouse.com


march 14

Wild Walk: Guided Tour With Behind-The-Scenes Access 1:45-3:15pm WNC Nature Center, 75 Gashes Creek Rd, Asheville, NC The Nature Center is a casual zoo. Over 60 native animal species—including black bears, red wolves, and otters—hang out in a natural habitat where animal-loving humans get a chance to say hello, as long as they don’t get too close. This tour will be different in that it will take visitors behind the “staff only” doors. The tour will be designed to make the most of the animal situation du jour. Participants are encouraged to dress for a lot of walking in the weather. The tour is not recommended for small children, and visitors under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Pre-registration is required.

> Free and Open to the Public > Vinton Murray at 828-277-5489 or vinton.murray@me.com


Green is the color of rigor. Our engaging curriculum inspires success at competitive colleges and universities. Green is the color of nature. Our location is the definition of the great outdoors. Green is the color of spirit. Our athletic teams wear it with a winner’s pride. Green is the color of growth. Our boys mature into balanced, complete men — prepared for life.

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Fiddlers Of Madison County 3pm & 7:30pm The Arts Center 90 South Main St, Marshall, NC This tradition of unpredictable fiddling is always a sellout. Award-winning players include Bobby Hicks, Josh Goforth, Roger Howell, Arvil Freeman, and Ralph Lewis and the Sons of Ralph.

>Tickets: Advance $20, Door $25 > 828-649-1301 or madisoncountyarts.com

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outdoor activities in beautiful and dramatic terrains. Then, they send the favorite films on a tour around the world. This year, the tour will make two stops in Western North Carolina. If you miss the Brevard screenings, they’ll play again March 27 and 28 at the Schaefer Center in Boone (828-262-2475). Expect an awe-inspiring mix of natural grandeur and human achievement.

of live musicians playing traditional Chinese instruments. Tricks might include riding a unicycle on an umbrella or packing twelve dancers on a unicycle. The acrobats will also perform at the US Cellular Center in Asheville March 14.

>Tickets: Adult $20, Student $10 > 800-841-2787 or theschaefercenter.org

march 13 , 14 , 15

Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour 2015 Friday & Saturday 7pm, Sunday 4pm Porter Center 1 Brevard College Dr, Brevard, NC Every year, Banff Center in Alberta hosts a film festival celebrating extreme

Diana Wortham Theatre, 2 South Pack Square, Asheville, NC F rom Ma rch 17-22, the Cit y of Asheville will celebrate the life and works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. On opening night, the A sheville Symphony Orchestra will be joined by the renowned Brentano Quartet and award-winning violist Hsin-Yun Huang. On the program are Mozart’s String Quartet, K.458, Brahms’ String Quartet, Op.67, and Mozart’s Viola Quintet, K.515. Big events in days following include a scholarly dissection of Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” over a gourmet Austrian lunch at Isa’s Bistro; a performance of Mozart’s “The Impressario” by the Asheville Lyric Opera at the YMI Cultural Center; and, of course, multiple live performances of the pop-culture “Amadeus.” Visit ashevillesymphony.org for the full itinerary.

> Opening Night:

Adult $38, Youth $5

> 828-257-4530 or dwtheatre.com

– may 25 Biltmore Blooms: Festival of Flowers 2015 march 20

9am-6pm The Biltmore House Beginning with the vernal equinox, estate visitors are welcome to enjoy the orchids and tropical blooms inside the Conservatory. As the season progresses, fields of flora will burst in turn, in accordance with Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision for George Vanderbilt’s gardens. Forsythia and daffodils will likely bloom in March. More spectacular displays of tulips, azalea, and flowering trees are more characteristic of April.

> Included with estate admission > 800-411-3812 or biltmore.com march 21

Yesterday and Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience 7:30pm The Foundation PAC, Isothermal Community College, 286 ICC Loop Road, Spindale, NC The McGuigan Brothers are so confident in their emulation of all the Beatles’ tunes, they’ll be fielding requests from the audience all night. Along with their requests, a few lucky attendees will have a chance to share stories about how the recordings from the Fab Four added meaning to the soundtracks of their lives—or vice versa.

>Tickets: $19 & $24 > 828-286-9990 or isothermal.edu march 21

Get In Gear Fest 2015 Noon-4pm Riverlink Park, Asheville, NC The Outdoor Gear Builders promise a day of demos, clinics, competitions,

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raffles, and beer. Outdoor enthusiasts will have a chance to try out and purchase locally-made outdoor sporting goods. The Outdoor Gear Builders of Western North Carolina is an informal guild of craftspeople who collaborate to build off each other’s innovation, pool together to achieve economies of scale, and ultimately connect those who love outdoor adventure with the equipment of their dreams.

> Free > outdoorgearbuilders.com march 21

Make A Blanket Day 10am-2pm Eliada Homes For Children, 2 Compton Drive, Asheville, NC Project Linus donates security blankets to seriously ill and traumatized children. This Saturday, the public is invited to fellowship and to add their personal loving touch to some very special blankets. All materials and an assembly line of sewing machines will be provided. Those who would prefer to knit or crochet must bring their own yarn and needles. Non-sewers are welcome to come and learn. It’s not so much the blanket as knowing that somebody cares.

> Free > Sharon Waltman at 828-645-7190 or Ellen Knoefel at 828-645-8800

march 21

Gold In The Foothills 10:30am Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center, Aden Greene Road, Mill Spring, NC Historian Lynn Padgett likely knows more about the Nor th Carol i na gold rush than anyone. Prospectors searched the mountains in vain for 300 years before finally striking in the foothills. A mining town sprung up, and,

from about 1820-1840, North Carolina was the major supplier for the United States Mint. Then, gunsmith and jeweler Christopher Bechtler moved to Rutherfordton to set up his own mint. Padgett will fill in the details with color commentary from first-person accounts and old newspaper articles.

> Free > pacolet.org march 26

Harlem Globetrotters 7pm US Cellular Center, Asheville, NC When they played in Moscow in 1959, Pravda reported: “This is not basketball; it is too full of tricks.” Now, a new generation of Harlem Globetrotters continues the tradition of Meadowlark Lemon and friends with amazing athletics, fun basketball stunts, and silly antics pulled on unsuspecting audience members. Our team will be playing against, you guessed it, the Washington Generals. Kids with a ticket and a Magic Pass get to play on the court with the Globetrotters from 5:30 - 6:30pm. For groups of 10 or more, contact Carl Pavlock, pavlock@harlemglobetrotters.com

>Tickets: $32.49-$91.10 > Magic Passes: $22 additional > 800-745-3000 or harlemglobetrotters.com

march 28

German Giants 7:30pm HSO Concert Hall, Blue Ridge Community College, 180 West Campus Dr, Flat Rock, NC Clarinetist Steve Cohen will feature in the Henderson Symphony Orchestra’s presentation of historically-significant works from three German masters: Weber’s Overture to Der Freischutz,

Mozar t ’s Clar inet Concer to, and Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 in C Minor. Acclaimed for his smooth arpeggios, Cohen has played principal clarinet with the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Seoul Philharmonic, and the Chicago Symphony, and he has taught in a variety of settings worldwide.

>Tickets: $35 > 828-697-5884 or



march 28

Easter Egg-Stravaganza


2-4pm Watauga County Library, 140 Queen St, Boone, NC The tradition begins with arts, crafts, games, and live entertainment for the whole family at the library. Children, ages 0-12, then march in an Easter parade to the Jones House, where they will enjoy more refreshments, fun and games, prizes, and an Easter egg hunt. Organizers HOP to see you there.

> Free > 828-268-6280 or


Members of the public are invited to wander through the Civil War camp and learn history from soldiers from four companies. There will be a company drill at 11:00 Saturday and a Battle of Stoneman’s Raid at 2:00 on both days. Visitors are welcome to share supper with the soldiers Saturday night and worship with them Sunday morning. Saturday afternoon, Carol Rifkin, John






Saturday 9am-9pm | Sunday 9am-4pm Harmon Field, 1 Harmon Field Road, Tryon, NC


7-10 Harmon Field Heritage Days Civil War Camp and Reenactment


march 28 - 29





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EAF Dates: Oct 15-18

Save Fall LEAF Dates: Oct 15-18


March 2015 | capitalatplay.com 95

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Bill Fishburne Broker-Associate Beverly-Hanks & Assoc. 400 Beverly-Hanks Ctr. Hendersonville, NC 828-777-0096

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Fowler, and Jeanette Queen will entertain with traditional mountain music and stories.

> Dinner Donation: Adult $5, Ages 6-13 $3 > 828-817-1544 or serendipityrancher.com/ hfheritagedays.html

march 28 - 29 The Lost World of Orchids 10am-5pm The North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville, NC World-class orchid breeders will share thousands of their achievements in colorful arrangements. Growers and hybridizers will present educational programs, and Western North Carolina Orchid Society members will be on-hand to field informal questions. Tom Nasser of Carolina Orchids will provide informational tours of the displays. Once in the gate, visitors are welcome to explore the arboretum’s 65 garden acres with ten miles for hiking or biking.

> Admission: $12 per car > 828-665-2492 or ncarboretum.org march 28 - 29

April Fool’s Trail Days See website for itinerary Downtown Franklin, NC For the sixth year, the Franklin Main Street Program is putting on a show to attract hikers. The town is a traditional stopover for Appalachian Trail hikers. Presentations are scheduled on conservation, birding, and the philosophy of hiking. The Nantahala Hiking Club will provide guided tours on at least six nearby trails. Participants can take in wildflowers, wander beside a little stream, or trek “mostly uphill” to a 360-degree panorama of the area. On

both evenings, Ronnie Haven, proprietor of the Sapphire Inn, will open his doors for the 10th Annual Hiker Bash. With a hospitable backdrop of food and music, hikers will be able to informally network, share stories, and participate in a talent contest. The Macon County Library has scheduled a number of free presentations that include outdoor-adventure travelogues, wilderness survival tips, and local homesteading history.

> Open events are free. > 828-524-2516 or aprilfoolstraildays.com

march 29

A Prodigy Returns 3pm Porter Center, 1 Brevard College Dr, Brevard, NC Violinist Zeyu Victor Li is a breath of fresh air for connoisseurs who can appreciate the difference a few milliseconds can make in music. He performs complex musical numbers with technical precision and smooth savoir-faire. He began playing at the age of four, won the Anhui Provincial Young Musicians Competition when he was seven, and has gone on to win several first-place adult awards since then. Now only seventeen, Zeyu will perform compositions by Sergei Prokofiev and Edward Elgar.

> Admission: $35 > 828-884-4221 or


If your organization has any local press releases for our briefs section or events that you would like to see here feel free to email us at events@capitalatplay.com Please submit your event by the first day of the month preceding your event.

March 2015 | capitalatplay.com 97

Transformations begin here. Tr a n Transformations begin here. begin here.

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March 2015 | capitalatplay.com 99

Ingles is a family of local farmers, vendors, ranchers, bakers and builders…all working together to bring you the highest quality local products. We built our stores around your towns, so at Ingles, local is the basis of our business.


| March 2015

Profile for Capital at Play Magazine

Capital at Play March 2015 Edition  

Vol 5 | Ed 3 - Western North Carolina's Business Lifestyle Magazine

Capital at Play March 2015 Edition  

Vol 5 | Ed 3 - Western North Carolina's Business Lifestyle Magazine