Page 1

Don Cox

From Beans to Brew p.14

Darrin Williams

The Enviable Comic Man! p.64

The Free Spirit Of Enterprise

MALT On a Mission with Brent Manning and Brian Simpson, of Riverbend Malt House. Article on p. 50 See p.8 for Creative Statement on the Cover Image

countdown to Volume VI - Edition III complimentary edition


The Capital at Play guide to summer camps in Western North Carolina p.38 Listing of Camps on p. 48. March 2016




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re we there yet? Spring, that is. Is it just me, or does it seem like this winter hit later, and with more blunt-force frigidity, than any in recent memory? Now, I like playing in the white stuff as much as the next guy, but for our March issue, I’m still pretty happy that “staying warm,” while not an overriding theme, did turn out to be a recurring one.

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“On the Up and Up,” for example, takes a look at two businesses, Climbmax and the Smoky Mountain Adventure Center, where families can go to indulge their rock climbing fantasies indoors, far away from avalanches and icicles. “Game On” offers a buffet of indoor options as well, detailing some of the restaurants and watering holes around the region that regularly host karaoke, trivia, and game nights. And elsewhere in the issue, you can read about that most indoorsy of leisure pursuits, collecting comic books (curl up in front of a roaring fire with your favorite superhero); the fine art of coffee roasting (nothing says “get warm” like a just-brewed mug of specialty java); and the even finer art of premium malting (substitute “craft beer” for “specialty java”). Meanwhile, since regular readers of Capital at Play know how we do enthusiastically sing the virtues of getting outdoors and kicking into high gear (see: past stories on ballooning, caving, mountain biking, motorcycling, longboarding, etc.), we trust that our “Countdown to Camp” report will serve as a useful and timely tool for families currently planning out summer activity schedules for the kids. As I write, it’s mid-February; snow fell twice in the past week; temps have consistently been in the ‘teens and twenties. But while it may not feel even remotely like summer yet (or, for that matter, spring), now is when summer camp reservations are getting booked. Incidentally, the latter feature has a particular resonance for yours truly: My son has been attending camp here in the mountains for a number of years, and each summer, for those two weeks, he’s had an amazing time. “Are we there yet?” is his back-seat mantra during the family’s annual drive to drop him off in the woods. So our summer camp article also represents, in a sense, our way of saluting the camp operators, directors, staffers, and counselors all dedicated to ensuring that everyone’s kids have amazing times.


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The The all-new all-new 2012 2012 Subaru Impreza. Impreza. The The optimist’s optimist’s car car ofof choice. choice. Symmetrical You have the go-anywhere capability of a Subaru, alongSymmetrical with Less Less of of a aSubaru test test drive. drive. rmance that comes with Subaru engineering, the All-Wheel All-Wheel Drive Drive and and 36 mpg* mpg* get get you you further further in in any any weather. weather. Traction Traction and stability stability The newly redesigned 2016 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid. X-MODE and a36 surprisingly spacious upgraded interior. It’s and the More More of of a a joy joy ride. ride. rmance that comes with Subaru engineering, the A 2015 IIHS Top Safety Pick. AIt’ll hybrid powertrain with a SUBARU most fuel-effi cient midsize crossover in America at 33smiling mpg. control control help help avoid avoid slippery slippery situations. situations. It’ll keep keep you you warm warm and and smiling allall winter winter long. long. ™




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Subaru, Crosstrek, Forester, Impreza, Legacy, EyeSight, and SUBARU BOXER are registered trademarks. Pandora is a registered trademark of 6 EPA-estimated hwy fuel economy for 2016trademarks. Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid models. Actual mileagefor may vary. PandoraForester, Media, Inc. 1 Subaru, Impreza, Legacy and Outback are registered EPA-estimated hwy fuel economy 2015 Outback 2.5i models. Actual mileage † † *EPA-estimated *EPA-estimated hwy fuelfuel economy economy forfor 2012 2012 Subaru Subaru Impreza 2.0i2.0i CVT CVT models. models. Actual Actual mileage mileage may may vary. vary. MSRP excludes excludes destination destination andand delivery delivery charges, charges, tax,tax, titletitle andand registration registration fees. fees. 2 hwy hwy fuelImpreza economy for 2015 model vehicles within the IHSMSRP Automotive, Polk Non-Luxury Midsize CUV segment. may vary. Based on EPA-estimated Dealer Dealer sets sets actual actual price. price. 2012 2012 Impreza Impreza 2.0i2.0i Limited Limited pictured pictured hashas an an MSRP MSRP of $21,595. of $21,595.

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The Free Spirit Of Enterprise


Oby Morgan associate publisher

Jeffrey Green managing editor

Fred Mills

Since 1977

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Dasha O. Morgan, Brenda Murphy contributing writers & photogr aphers Jennifer Fitzgerald, Derek Halsey,Anthony Harden, Jim Murphy, Mardy & Bill Murphy, Toni Sherwood,



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The choice is yours. As a school teacher, principal, wife, mother and daughter, Bonnie Johnston had gladly dedicated her time to improving the lives of others. After the passing of her mother, Bonnie caught her reflection in the mirror. The woman staring back at her wasn’t who she wanted to be. Tired of feeling tired and struggling to shed those extra pounds, Bonnie wanted to be well and regain something she had lost – herself. After attending Prime, a Mission Health education event for women, she enrolled in the My Healthy Life program and began setting concrete nutrition and exercise goals. Now 23 pounds lighter, healthier and stronger than ever before, Bonnie didn’t just find what she thought she lost – she created the vibrant person she wanted to be. Whether you’re trying to be well, get well or stay well, Mission Health’s My Healthy Life offers you and your family access to the best people, resources and advanced technology to help you achieve and exceed your goals. To hear more personal stories like Bonnie’s , visit:

Be Well. Get Well. Stay Well. March 2016 |


C over

c r e at i v e s tat e m e n t a b o u t t h e



he Art Affair, a charity art auction benefiting Open Doors of Asheville, has become somewhat of an annual treat for residents of Asheville and beyond. Featuring donated works by local artists, this auction offers attendees a chance to donate to Open Doors of Asheville, whose primary function is to “help at-risk kids, living below poverty level, with a support network of local families who provide mentoring as well as transportation to sports and extracurricular activities, tutoring, and school events.” The theme of this year’s gala, taking place on March 5th at the newly constructed Green Man Brewery location, is “the Mythos & Magic of street-level transformation and urban lore.” Capital at Play frequently meets with local entrepreneurs who evoke feelings of inspiration. Especially ones who contribute to the transformation of our local economy. Having been a proud sponsor of the Art Affair last year, we were asked to participate once again, and upon reviewing last year’s gala, featuring aerial acrobats and other such eclectic entertainment, wanted to promote 2016’s event with something just as unique. As this year’s theme parallels the

original photo

feelings we have when connecting with entrepreneurs and business owners, we decided to pass along some photographs for creativity’s sake to a local artist who might then create a piece to be donated to the Art Affair. This is what you see on this month’s cover—art inspired by the local economy, by the operations of The Riverbend Malt House, to be exact. Riverbend cures grains used by local and national breweries to craft the delicious beverages we love and champion here in Western North Carolina. Given that Riverbend’s process utilizes a custom human-drawn plough/rake, which is pulled though an indoor field of harvested barley, who better to capture that image than someone specializing in landscapes and oil paintings? (Read more about Riverbend in our feature that starts on page 50.) Below you can see some of the progression of the cover work, lovingly titled The Barley Raker, from initial concept to final iteration, as crafted by artist Jason Rafferty. He works in Asheville River Arts District, and following consultation with his colleague John Mac Kah, he created the painting in John’s studio at Riverview Station.

orig in al s ke tch

c o l o r p l ay

arti st b io Jason—a recipient of the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant who has studied with respected artists in Paris, France, and the United States (find him at www.—explains, “The Barley Raker is an oil painting on canvas that I started out by thinking of Jean François Millet’s paintings of workers sowing seeds and tilling fields. I used reference photos to do an initial 8

| March 2016

compositional sketch with walnut ink and chalk on gray paper. I then did a color study in oils, after which I began sketching the final piece in charcoal and red chalk directly on the final primed canvas. I worked over this sketch in several layers in oils, paying close attention to the texture of the barley in the foreground and the overall light effect, until I was satisfied with the end result.”

Kelly Davis

Steve Jennings

Jean Wauford

T. Jeff Covington

John A. York

Ragan H. Ward

John D. Kimberly

Where to? Wherever your financial journey takes you, the community bankers at Carolina Alliance Bank can help you find the way. From Asheville’s art galleries to the apple orchards of Hendersonville, they know Western North Carolina, and with everything from commercial loans to mortgages, they’ve got the products you need to meet your goals. Along with the experience to help you find the one that’s right for you and your situation. So let us know where you’d like to go. And together, we’ll find a way to get you there.

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Tools of the trade at Bald Guy Brew Coffee Roasting Company photo by Anthony Harden

F E AT U R E S vol. vi



ed. iii





March 2016 |



m a r c h 2 016 Campers at Merri-Mac photo courtesy North Carolina Youth Camp Association

ult and time onals, finding



Game On

Countdown to Camp On the Up and Up

l e i s u r e & l i b at i o n Winter blues got you down? Local restaurants and bars just might have some cure for what ails ya…

p e o p l e at p l ay

88 The Children’s Welfare

League Mardis Gras Ball 2016


| March 2016

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


c a p i ta l a d v e n t u r i s t

The Capital at Play guide to summer camps in Western North Carolina. Listing of Camps on p. 48.

In opening his second climbing gym, Stuart Cowles fulfilled a longtime dream.



34 Carolina in the West 60 The Old North State 74 National & World News

90 March madness in the mountains!

It’s Game On Pt.2, from basketball, extreme sports, and bull riding to organic growing, mica mining, and talent jamming…

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e x amining the quality of roasted beans


| March 2016


Beans TO



For Don Cox, there’s more to the coffee business than simply perfecting the art of roasting. It’s about behaving ethically and, hopefully, making a global difference. written by derek halsey

Upon walking into Don Cox’s coffee shop in Valle Crucis, North Carolina, I notice a big roaster is churning in the back corner of the room while thick smoke bellows from the metal stove pipe that runs out of the back wall. Every 20 seconds or so, employee Matt Duval pulls out a half-circle tray that grabs a small amount of spinning coffee beans, which in turn lets the roaster know what color the coffee beans are at this point in the process. Bald Guy Brew Coffee Roasting Company is located on the same road as the original Mast General Store founded in 1883, an historic mainstay in the mountainous seven-county area of Western North Carolina known as the High Country. Today, Cox is standing near the front of his shop beside a much smaller roaster connected to his laptop. On a nearby table are five samples of coffee beans that a farmer in South America recently sent to him for inspection. The sensors on the tiny roaster help Cox to record the various ways that the test beans are being roasted. His goal in 2016 is to create a new espresso.


photos by anthony harden

Once roasted, the test beans are ground and brewed for a series of taste tests, a process called “cupping.” A color-coded sensory chart, which features two drawn wheels on a board that describes the variety of coffee flavors as well as what can go wrong with coffee beans, is always on display nearby. “The coffee cupping flavor wheel is based on wine sommelier training,” Cox informs me. “Coffee can be categorized as fruity, earthy, from baker’s chocolate to spicy to sweet like cane sugar, from caramel to mangoes, papaya, and sun-dried tomatoes. There are so many things going on as far as the dirt and how the processing occurs. ‘Cupping’ coffee is the means by which you evaluate coffee. We just roasted a Kenyan coffee and people were like, ‘What does the Kenyan coffee taste like?’ I told them, ‘Man, it is like 2% milk that has a long finish, and it is kind of delicate and has a nice bounce to it like champagne, and it has a citrus note as it cools like somebody took a white grapefruit and rung it out in your cup.’ March 2016 |


“The only way you figure all of that out is by evaluating coffee—by ‘cupping’ coffee. The only way to get that flavor profile is by roasting coffee, and by doing sample roasting, you figure out which time and temperature roasting profile makes the best sense for that particular coffee.” This is a constant process, as coffee roasting is a dirt business. That is why Cox often refers to “walking dirt” with various farmers when he visits South America, because the changing conditions of nature affect the coffee bean crop. “There is new coffee every year,” he says. “It could be from the same farm and same plant, but they might have had more rain that year, there might have been less rain, there might have been a real active bee population, with a real cool plant that the bees were also pollinating.”

Passport to Inspiration Don Cox has been in the coffee business now for 11 years. He’s traveled to Costa Rica, Mexico, and Panama, going south of the border several times each year, and he also gets coffee samples from, in his words, “all around the world.” There is more to his operation than just great roasted coffee, however, as he is insistent upon fair trade and sustainability when it comes to the beans he buys. The bigger problem is the exploitation of the small local coffee growers by those who value profit at the expense of the grower. Let’s go back to what led Don to this point, a journey that found him traveling the globe and meeting people from all walks of life and cultures. “My parents were real good about getting me out and about,” he says. “The Boy Scouts actually took me to a lot of different places and cultures. I was born in Germany, and I was a military brat kid. My dad is American and my mom is German, so I went to Europe a lot and visited with my grandparents and my aunt and uncle. It was kind of cool. Germans are close knit and like to keep around family. My mom was the first one to leave the family, so we made several trips so I knew where I was from and who my people were. I think that helped me to develop a sense of life, that life is big. I think that if you never get outside the bubble, you don’t realize how the rest of the world operates. The more you travel, the more you hang out with people that do not speak your language, the more you are exposed to different world systems.” Mark Twain famously said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Don agrees. “The passport that we [Americans] have,” he says, “people die to get one because there are a lot of perks to it. When you travel to other countries that don’t have the same infrastructure, you realize that people can still be happy and 16

| March 2016

weighing green

coffee beans to roast

don cox

March 2016 |


not have to worry about the stuff that we do. But, they sure do want a shot at it. It is one of those things where you find that happiness is not about how much you have, but about who you are and who is healthy. It is not about ‘stuff.’” He was a history major at Appalachian State University (ASU) in Boone, later going on to do his graduate studies in sociology and anthropology at Pittsburgh’s Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry. W hile there, he worked with kids in crisis in the Pittsburgh inner city neighborhoods. Eventually, Don and his wife, Shannon, moved to Juarez, Mexico, across the border from El Paso, working with street kids in a pre-natal clinic. But then the drug wars kicked in all around them, and they quickly had to retreat to safer locales.

“[Traveling] helped me to develop a sense that life is big. I think that if you never get outside the bubble, you don’t realize how the rest of the world operates.” Meanwhile, he had developed a love for roasting coffee—and at first, much to his wife’s chagrin. He attempted to use an air popcorn popper to roast the beans, which proved to be a bit aromatic in a negative way. So he decided to purchase a real roaster, and that’s when the learning process began. As it turns out, the roots of his coffee roasting journey are located in, of all places, Yugoslavia. “We always drank coffee,” he points out. “Germans love coffee. We actually roasted coffee in a pan while living in Mexico. My great-great aunt lives in Yugoslavia, and I remember visiting them one time. I was real little. We walked into a house that had a fire in the middle of it and a dirt floor and smoke was rising up. I 18

| March 2016

The sights… the seasons…


the color of roasting beans

remember her sitting over the fire, and there was this metal wok-like thing, and she was roasting coffee in this copper whatever-it-was. Just recently I found out that the wooden spoon that my great-great aunt used was passed on to my mom’s mom, because it was her sister; and then it was passed on to my mom; and when she dies, it will be passed on to me. The coffee roasting spoon is just a wee bit of a nub from all of those years of roasting. I think I have coffee roasting in my blood.” Once he decided to make a living from artisanal coffee roasting (using “two credit cards and a personal loan”), he started small with a unique mobile roasting unit that soon drew much attention. “The Watauga Farmers’ Market is where we rolled the show out,” he says, of the famous warm weather market located in Boone. “We pulled up in a box Sprinter van with a two-group espresso machine coffee maker and a 200-pound roaster that we swung out on a jib boom, and we started roasting coffee in the parking lot. We’d sell it as soon as we got done roasting it. That was the first van, I think, in North Carolina that was set up by the Department of Agriculture to roast, package, and stock shelves with coffee out of a parking lot, running off biodiesel and solar panels, ten years ago. “About four years later, I had a business coach who asked me if I liked what I was doing. I said yes, and he said, ‘Well, you are going to plateau. Have you ever thought about wholesale roasting for other people?’ I was actually doing that because people wanted to carry my coffee, but I was having a hard time keeping up while doing it for me and others. So, I flipped a switch and got a bigger roaster and started roasting for other people.” I ncident a l ly, i n c a s e you a re wondering about the origin of the Bald Guy Brew Coffee Roasting Company name: Don explains that back when he was working with those Pittsburgh inner city kids, “they couldn’t remember my name—and since I’m bald, they called me ‘bald guy.’”

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costa rican

picker, photo courtesy of Don Cox

(L-R) Francisco (a worker), Don Felo (friend of

Don Cox), & Don Cox, photo courtesy of Don Cox

Journey to Eden Two unrelated incidents have perhaps had the greatest impact upon his coffee roasting career. The first came early on, with Don learning a hard lesson while also experiencing the results of his version of the Golden Rule theme. “I had a bank deposit,” he says, “and I was going to my kid’s Kindermusik [music and motion] class. I missed the deposit and had a bunch of money in my bag, and I stuck it underneath the seat of my truck. And, somebody took it. They got into my truck and took my bank bag and I didn’t know it was gone. The next morning, I went to the bank to make a deposit and it wasn’t there. It was really dumb. This was year two or three, back when I first started. I was new. I was like the ‘Struggle Bus’ [tough situation] guy. Man, when you’re just starting off with a business and $2,000 is gone, and it was about three weeks’ worth of hard work, you’re just devastated. I wasn’t really mad that somebody took it, because I figured they needed it more than me, but I was mad at myself for making it such a cherry pick. I thought, ‘Why don’t I just leave it on top of the damn hood?’” Then something very cool happened. “I went to the police and told them what happened. Then somebody probably asked me why I was down, and I told them that I got robbed. They asked me, ‘How much did you lose?’ I told them it was three weeks’ worth of work. People just started putting envelopes all around 20

| March 2016

my shop, on light switches and elsewhere, with money and notes that read, ‘I hope this helps.’ I got the majority of it back. It was people giving back to the business and to me to make up my loss. It was a good feeling to know that people appreciate you and what you do. ‘I want to see you succeed.’ “That really started to pave the way for my different approach to business. You don’t count people as dollar signs or profit. You count them as human. You treat people the way you want to be treated, and do right by them.” The second incident happened some time later, after he had been in coffee roasting for about seven years. It didn’t just suggest another level to explore when it came down to doing business ethically. He maintains that it changed his life. Most United States roasters, it turns out, purchase their beans from brokers. Don, however, had some friends in Costa Rica, and he already felt comfortable traveling in Latin America because of the time he’d spent previously in Mexico. As he recalls it, upon one such trip, “There was a guy I met named Juan, and his brother worked at a pizza place for 15 years in New Jersey, saving up his money to buy a coffee farm in Costa Rica. I was down there, and I talked to Juan, and he introduced me to his brother. They were just great people. He shared with me about his struggles and about how hard both of them worked. “The next year I came back and I saw them and said, ‘Man, look at all of this great coffee. Can I buy some of it?’ He said,

matthew duval watching the roasted beans cool

‘It is all sold.’ I said, ‘Dude, that’s great. What did you get for it?’ He said, ‘I just don’t know yet.’ I said, ‘Well, what did it cup like?’ He said, ‘Man, I don’t know.’ I asked him who bought his coffee and he said this guy’s name—I don’t want to repeat [the] name because it is a small world—and I said, ‘So, you’re telling me that this guy bought your coffee and he is going to tell you how much it is worth and he is going to evaluate your coffee? Is that what you’re telling me?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘Well, that is just upside down.’ “Then, he started to cry. He said, ‘Man, what do you want me to do? We worked for ten years to build up this farm and we’ve got a lot of money involved in it. So, if he doesn’t buy my coffee, who is going to buy my coffee? I can’t sell it to the co-op, because they won’t pay me enough.’ “It was at that point, while watching a grown man cry, that it really just burned a hole in me. I realized that I had to come up with a way to help people like Juan evaluate their coffee and to provide opportunities to sell coffee at a fair price. It was a pretty intense example of the power of heart-to-heart conversation. That was really a turning point as far as the direction.” That was when the idea to create Project Eden kicked in. “I came up with the idea of forming direct trade relationships, and then empowering coffee-growing communities, rather than exploiting them, by teaching the farmers how to evaluate their coffee. [To] develop a vocabulary for it, so when they speak to March 2016 |


guys like me, there can be some sense of confidence and trust built. It just landed in my head, and I called it Project Eden, because what I was starting begins in a garden and ends in a garden. Coffee is a garden type of thing.” Don adds that being eco-friendly and socially responsible has always been his goal, but that after his conversation with Juan, “I just felt like I had to do something—that was the eye-opener of how raunchy the systems can be.”

The Road Ahead Several times a year, Cox co-leads a group of students from a supply chain class in the College of Business at ASU in Boone, taught by Dr. Ken Corley, and they take the future business people to Costa Rica to learn about the coffee business. He is also enlisting the efforts of some other ASU students to help him with an upcoming fundraising bike ride from the mountains to the sea that will raise awareness and dollars for his Project Eden venture. “This year, I am going to ride my cargo bike from the top of Grandfather Mountain to Wrightsville Beach, with 100 pounds of Costa Rican coffee, to create some kind of crowd-sourcing, Kickstarter-type of campaign to raise money to get Project Eden

going,” he says. “Hopefully I can sell some of the roasted coffee that I will have so I can offset the trip a little bit. I am a fat man on a big bike, dude, and that is a lot of miles— it is going to hurt. I have a Social Entrepreneur class at Appalachian State, taught by Mr. Jesse Pipes, that has kind of adopted Project Eden. They are putting together the pitch, putting together the route, and getting ahold of universities and bike clubs that might be interested. We are going to try and make it work. I’ve got one more ride in me, and I’m going to really try and make it count.” In the meantime, the art of roasting great coffee is still at the heart of the Bald Guy Brew Coffee Roasting Company. “You don’t sacrifice quality for profit,” said Cox. “Specialty coffee properly roasted sells itself. I don’t need to hype it because it is just good. The cup speaks. The cup will sell itself. If it is crap coffee, you’re pouring it out. If it is great coffee, you’re buying another cup. Most of the money I make comes from putting my coffee in large bags in large quantities and selling it to people. The Farmers’ Market is still a big draw, and now we have a big online following ( because of all the tourists that come here and then go home, so we ship all over the United States” He adds that in addition to his Valle Crucis location, he’s also at Bald Guy Brew King Street, on the main street of Boone. His

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specialty brews—of which there are many; mostly single-origin, geographically speaking—are also featured at numerous eating establishments in the area. Among them is The Gamekeeper Restaurant, located near Boone, which has been awarded six AAA Four-Diamond ratings. “We go way back, as Don and Shannon are two of the most wonderful people on the planet Earth, and I think you can taste that in their coffee,” says Ken Gordon, who is co-owner and co-head chef of The Gamekeeper Restaurant, along with his wife, Wendy. “It is one thing to say you are going to buy from a fair trade farm in South America. But it is another thing to go there to see what they are doing, to work with them, and do as much as you can to create a system between them and the people that are selling the coffee. “He has put his time in, for sure. But you can buy the best fair trade beans in the world and still burn them. Don takes

the time to do it right. I love Don, but if he was bringing junk through the door, I’d apologize and go with a different vendor. It is a win-win situation. He is a genuine person who does it right, and he looks out for the best interests of all involved.” That sums up the cof fee roasting approach of Don Cox: Do business ethically at all levels, and create some of the best-tasting coffee in the world. “At the end of the day,” he says, “it is about legacy, and not about what you got buried in and how much you had. It is about what you did and what your family can be proud of. It is about when your boys can stand up and tell people that their old man tried to make a difference: ‘He didn’t have a lot of money. He didn’t have a trust fund. But he had a desire to see people treated better, so he hopped on his big-ass bike and rode across the state.’”

“At the end of the day, it is about legacy, and not about what you got buried in and how much you had. It is about what you did and what your family can be proud of.”

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March 2016 | 23


| March 2016

L leisure & libation

GAME ON Winter blues got you down? Local restaurants and bars just might have some cures for what ails ya‌ written by jennifer fitzger ald


photos by anthony harden March 2016 | 25

leisure & libation


inter—the season for reflection.

A time to lounge around the fireplace with a good book and watch the snow fall outside. By this time in the season, however, you may find yourself in a different frame of mind. You may be in your pajamas by sunset and eating comfort food all night long. You are so ready for spring with some warmer temperatures and Daylight Saving Time that you have your flip-flops strategically placed by the front door, ready for the warm weather that is, hopefully, on its way. You are not alone. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a depression in response to changes in the natural day/night cycle that normally occurs in winter months. It is estimated to affect ten million Americans. Another ten to twenty percent may have mild SAD. It is more common in women than in men. Dr. Steven Buser, of innerQuest Psychiatry and Counseling in Asheville, says that SAD is very often a component of the depressions that are treated at innerQuest. “Even though Asheville is fairly far south, you still see a lot of it,” he says. “We see increased appetite, increased sleep, decreased mood, carbohydrate cravings, and lack of energy and interest.” Recommended treatment for patients who suffer from SAD to any significant degree is a light box for therapy. Meanwhile, says Buser, those suffering from a mild case of this winter depression can combat it with activity. “If you have SAD, try and get outdoors. Be aware that if you have a bright day, take a brisk half hour walk. Stay active, work out, get the aerobic heart rate beating. There are a lot of behavioral things that can improve it.” To that end, local restaurants, bars, and breweries offer activities for their customers to get them out of the house on a cold winter night in order to have some fun and stay active. It may be a competitive round of trivia. Or perhaps a turn at the karaoke microphone belting out your favorite song. There are many options in Western North Carolina to help with those winter blues.


| March 2016

L dennis jackson :

Black Mountain Ale House Trivia Master

john richardson

Trivia Tuesdays The Black Mountain Ale House in downtown Black Mountain offers trivia night every Tuesday. Owner John Richardson explains that it’s a break from the ordinary and a wonderful way to build community. “We typically have a full house, and often times there is a wait for tables to open up,” he says. “It is the most popular non-weekend evening. Not only do we have lively discussion among the teams gathered around the tables, but we also have a great sense of camaraderie and competition that has developed with our ‘regular’ teams.” The Ale House has been hosting Trivia Tuesdays for years, so they offer a variety of questions that appeal to every walk of life and skill level.

“Our Trivia Master is the manager at Town Hardware, as well as spending the first part of his career as an ordained minister— that’s why he’s known affectionately as ‘Preacher’—so the topics tend to be as varied as his career path,” Richardson says. Richardson sees regulars who have been attending the weekly event for over four years. While there is some competition among the players, the goal is to have a good time. The Ale House awards gift certificates to the top finishers, along with special prizes for best team names. While trivia night boosts sales at the Ale House, that is only part of the benefit. “It is a great change of pace for us and another great way of connecting folks who might not come out on a Tuesday night otherwise,” Richardson says.

March 2016 | 27


| March 2016


leisure & libation

social owners

Cory and Christen Short

k ar aoke

is serious business four nights a week at The Social

Be A Rock Star Four nights a week, The Social, located on Tunnel Road in East Asheville, cranks up the karaoke machine. Talk about entertainment—owner Cory Short says it is the only place better than Walmart for people watching. On average, 30 singers perform each night with dozens of regulars who attend. Short says The Social offers karaoke because Asheville has a large karaoke following. They run a $500 twelve-week contest a couple times a year. He sees more in attendance in the winter because of people looking for indoor things to do. “We have some extremely talented people that come out from time to time,” Short says. “Asheville has a handful of singers that could easily win American Idol. In fact, Asheville native [and Season 13 winner] Caleb Johnson was a karaoke host briefly for Get Vocal Entertainment. Don’t let that intimidate you, as most are still very amateur and just looking to have fun.” The Social could be playing your song on a Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night at 10PM. Short says the key to karaoke is confidence. And the most popular song? “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey—of course! March 2016 | 29

leisure & libation

Games People Play Stop by Heinzelmännchen Brewery, Inc., in downtown Sylva, and chances are someone will be playing a game. The brewery keeps a bountiful stock of board games available for their customers, bringing a similar feel to that of a German bierhalle, where folks drink, talk, and enjoy each other’s company. “O u r brewer y is fa m i ly friendly, so kids and adults or just the adults will play the games,” says Sheryl Rudd, one of the owners of Heinzelmännchen. “ We e n c o u r a g e fo l k s t o converse with each other and us. We enjoy talking about our beer, other craft beers, the brewing process, local and independently owned shops, restaurants, farmers’ markets, and what to do in the area.” Some of the favorite games of the customers are backgammon, card games (including Spades, Hearts, Go Fish, Solitaire and owners Sheryl Rudd & Dieter Kuhn War), Jenga, chess, and checkers. Rudd says the brewery is planning a Thinking & Drinking game, which is a card game that asks questions to each player such as “Do you want more money or time?” “You wake up alone in the woods. What’s the first thing you do?” This will add another level of conversation to the brewery. The games are not organized into competitions, but there may be a rivalry between family members or friends. “We have regulars that will stop by for a pint and card game or challenge their mate to a game of chess,” Rudd said. “By offering these games we encourage people to put their phone/computer down and enjoy a game of cards, chess, Jenga, checkers, and carry on a conversation.” 30

| March 2016


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Here is a sampling of area restaurants, bars, and breweries that offer games and activities: Black Mountain Ale House 117 C Cherry Street, Black Mountain Trivia Night every Tuesday from 7-9PM

Creekside Taphouse 8 Beverly Road, Asheville Trivia Night every Monday Also pinball, corn hole & arcade games

Pub 319 319 N. Haywood Street, Waynesville pub319sportsbar Karaoke every Tuesday from 8PM midnight

Standard Pizza Co 755 Biltmore Ave, Asheville Ping pong table and shuffleboard

Dugan’s Pub 29 W. French Broad Street, Brevard

The Social 1078 Tunnel Road, Asheville

Trivia Night every Tuesday at 8PM

Karaoke every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, & Sunday night at 10PM

Farm Burger 10 Patton Avenue, Asheville Has an indoor bocce ball court

Heinzelmännchen Brewery, Inc. 545 Mill Street, Sylva Board games available for play during operating hours

The Imperial 117 Main Street, Canton Trivia with Vickie, dates vary

Nantahala Brewing Company, Inc. 61 Depot Street, Bryson City

Tipping Point Tavern and Brewery 190 North Main Street, Waynesville Trivia Night every Wednesday at 7:30PM

Town Tavern 208-A Faculty Street, Boone

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Wild Wing Café 161 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville Darts, shuffleboard, video games, & karaoke on Saturdays

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The Largest Consignment Store in WNC… 20,000 sq ft of shopping fun!

Karaoke Night every Wednesday at 9PM, Trivia Night every Thursday at 7PM

Offering corn hole game

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leisure & libation

Not A Trivial Pursuit The Imperial of Canton started holding trivia nights, because many of their “jolly regulars” love to get together during the week and socialize. Morgan Owle-Crisp, from The Imperial, says having a trivia night was just a fun activity for their customers to compete in teams or couples and win a gift card, usually $25. “One of our staff, Vickie Stansell, generates questions each week and tries to pull things from a variety of topics since we have a mixture of ages with our players,” Owle-Crisp says. “Typically there are 10 to 15 playing.” The Imperial hosts the game on the porch or patio area during warmer weather, and inside in the bar when the temperatures are cooler. “I think, on average, more people have been coming in the fall and winter,” Owle-Crisp adds. “We also have higher sales in the cooler months just because our locals seem to spend as much time visiting the lake in the warmer months as possible.”

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L Karaoke Superstars vs. Trivia Teams The Town Tavern, located in Boone, is a destination for Appalachian State University students, as well as locals, featuring karaoke on Wednesdays at 9PM and trivia on Thursdays at 8PM Owner Patrick Burke says they also offer “really good food specials that include fresh seafood.” Trivia night finds the tavern full to capacity with many students, with 10 to 14 people on a trivia team. It is the second largest night of the week for the business, behind Monday wing night. Since the tavern is located in a college town, the karaoke crowd depends on the weather and time of the year. “Our karaoke gives everyone a chance to get up on stage and be a superstar,” Burke says.

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Penny for Your (Talented) Thoughts buncombe county

Last November the Western North C a r o l i n a K a u f f m a n Fo u n d a t io n Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program hosted the first Talent Jam, Asheville (TJA), event. In a nutshell, the idea was to (a) answer the question, why is it that so many local companies have such a hard time finding great local employees, contract workers, and freelancers; and (b) come up with a fresh and novel way to connect the many innovative small businesses and startups in the Western North Carolina region with the area’s community of deeply creative and skilled workers. Put another way, is there genuinely a so-called “talent gap” here, or is it just a matter of forging better connections? TJA determined that it is the latter scenario.

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The event—which, full disclosure, was emceed by Capital at Play publisher Oby Morgan—became, in the organizers’ words, “a business-focused mash-up of ‘speed dating, job fair, and a networking event’… a modern take on the classic job fair, where both companies and local workers will present one-minute pitches of their needs or talents followed by casual networking, all while enjoying great local food and drink.” Participating attendees, divided into “I Am Talent” and “Seeking Talent” categories, were able to purchase “pitch tickets” that allowed them to speak to the audience about themselves, their talents/skills or their company’s needs, and anything else they could fit into a one-minute pitch. The Jam was, by all accounts, a success, and a second TJA was subsequently scheduled for March. (See Events section for details on the March 21 Jam.)

Everything was Cherokee about John Standingdeer, Jr., who grew up on the Qualla Boundary and learned native dance. But coming from a household where only English was spoken, he could not grasp the language. He tried taking classes, but nothing stuck. So, inspired by his father’s practice of settling conflicts by searching out facts, he analyzed the 85 characters invented by Sequoyah in 1821 to make possible the reading and writing of the Cherokee language. And when he did, he discovered there were only sixteen basic sounds. The simplification then led to the discovery of patterns in word formation. Working with Barbara Duncan of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, he sifted the language to identify root verbs. He developed code for building words, and in October, he was awarded a patent titled, “Deconstruction and Construction of Polysynthetic Words for Translation Purposes.” He launched a company, Flying Lizard Languages, LLC, and set up a website, yourgrandmotherscherokee. com. The Cherokee language uses a single word to create what in English is an entire sentence. What’s more, it is verb-oriented, whereas English tends to focus more on nouns. Cherokee, thus, starts with a root

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verb and adds positivity or negativity, subject, and tense. It stands to reason that Standingdeer’s decomposition of the language will transfer to other Native American tongues. Early adopters are raving about how the decoding provides a quantum leap on the learning curve. The work will hopefully revive a language about to be extinct. It is estimated there may only be 200 fluent Cherokee speakers in the Eastern Band, and they are dying off.

Fire Insurance henderson county

The Henderson County Commissioners have put a new fire inspections ordinance, adopted in June, under review. The commissioners had approved charging businesses with up to 10,000-sq.-ft. of floor space $100 for the service. Establishments with over 10,000-sq.-ft. and up to 50,000-sq.-ft. would pay $300; and larger facilities would get a bill for $500. Because the fees are billed per use, Smiley’s Flea Market has led the charge in protesting. Smiley’s, in the town of Fletcher, consists of 160 small vending spaces, which left the owner, Ben Campen, Jr., with a bill for $16,000, to be shared with his vendors. Campen entered the flea market business in 1975, and he opened



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Smiley’s in 1984. Since then, he has opened two other Smiley’s markets, one in Macon, Georgia, and another in Micanopy, Florida. As the incoming president of the National Flea Market Association (NFMA), Campen says he has never seen anything like Henderson County’s fire inspection fee. Noting the fee is high enough to discourage some of his vendors from being in business for themselves, he hopes the NFMA will opt to throw their weight behind his opposition. The county levied the fee to recover the cost of providing the service. Presenting before the commissioners, Emergency Services Director Rocky Hyder said the county had to date billed $106,900 for 745 inspections and collected $72,000.

Obstetrician Pushed Out jackson county

Harris Regional Hospital has merged all its obstetricians into a single practice owned and operated by the hospital. Before the merger, privately-owned Smoky Mountain OB/GYN and the hospital’s Harris Women’s Care both delivered babies under the hospital’s aegis. Smoky Mountain began eleven years ago when Janine Keever opened a state-of-the-art office on a hill overlooking the hospital.

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She served the five-county area well with its annual average delivery rate of 650 babies. But a couple years ago, half her staff left to work for Mission Health. Then, Harris launched its own Women’s Care program, to which she lost another doctor. With only one other professional and a lot of underutilized, leading-edge equipment, she sold her practice to Harris and opted personally for the mommy track. Harris follows a national trend in merging standalone practitioners into the hospital. CEO Steve Heatherly had ignored the trend, saying organizational structure was secondary to healthcare. Harris even launched side practices in fields already addressed by private practices. But when Keever offered to sell her practice, he was not blind to the value of integrating services to provide seamless care for mothers and children from birth through pediatrics; sometimes internally-optimized segments lack the wherewithal to work well with each other.

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Asheville hotelier and philanthropist John McKibbon is partnering with Glenn Wilcox, chair and president of Tower Associates, to redo the BB&T building.

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Sleek and unpretentious, the dark gray, seventeen-story monolith was long the butt of insults from architectural aesthetes. The renovations were going to be a tough sell to city council, in light of a notoriously fickle development review process exacerbated by public fears of hotel proliferation. McKibbon was asking no subsidies, no favors, only one modification necessitated by one code that contradicted another. He entered the public hearing with three pages of previously imposed conditions, a smile, and a cornucopia of surprises. Taking the microphone, McKibbon addressed council members by name as he told what he would do for their favorite causes. He said he would pay a living wage, as he already does in all his hotels. He also offers a 401(k) match, profit sharing, and a number of other benefits. He would support the local art scene as he does with his Asheville Aloft hotel, showcasing a lot of art, all produced by local artists. And he would rent no office space to corporate chains. He was only “looking into” municipal programs to incentivize bus ridership, but he would spend $750,000 upgrading the hundred-year-old sidewalks around the hotel. Then, on top of the outright $250,000 cash gift he would make to the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, the hotelier said he would lobby on the city’s behalf, as he already had, to get the state legislature to approve diverting a portion of the tourist tax into the city’s general fund. Council has since encouraged other developers to live up to the new, “McKibbon Standard.”

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The Department of Geology at Appalachian State University was selected from three candidate academic institutions to be the recipient of the lifetime collection of James E. Wilson. The school was selected because of the quality reputation of its geology department. A graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, geologist Wilson pursued a career in the natural gas industry and a hobby of traveling to

mineral shows to acquire a menagerie of impressive, brightly-colored crystals of large proportions. Representatives from the geology department described the rocks as being Smithsonian-quality and out of the league of anything formerly owned by the McKinney Geology Teaching Museum in the Rankin Science Building at Appalachian State. Geology lab coordinator Anthony Love traveled to Florida to pick up the donation, which the family wanted to go into the public realm. Different cross-sections of the collection, consisting of 200 rocks filling seven display cases, will be selected for special exhibits, the first of which should go public in mid-March. Geologists say rocks are more than eye candy; they are macrocosms of molecular structure. A single rock, they say, perhaps from experience, could be all it takes to inspire somebody to become a geologist or chemist.

Customized Continuing Education henderson county

This spring, Blue Ridge Community College will be offering a series of business management seminars through its new Professional Development Institute(PDI). The seminars are geared toward professional development for mid- to upper-level business managers, and instructors will come from companies like Mobil Oil, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Sara Lee Casualwear. To ensure relevance, topics were selected to address concerns of local leaders, shared in focus groups, interviews, and surveys. The six flagship seminars will be: Business Analysis, Conflict Resolution, Project Planning and Control, Coaching and Development, Interpersonal Communication, and Succession Planning. The courses are hip to management du jour and thus may be refreshing for seasoned veterans. For example, the Coaching and Development course will emphasize strength-based leadership development in the context of emotional intelligence; the Interpersonal Communication course will teach how

to manage difficult conversations with communication plans. The seminars last two to three days and cost anywhere from $75 to $1000. In May the Disney Institute will share how their organization fosters success through relationships with coworkers and customers. The PDI invites local businesses in need of training to approach them with ideas for future seminars.

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The 2016 Nationa l Cyclocross Championship, spanning January 5-10, brought an estimated 5000 spectators and participants to Western North Carolina. The wheels were put in motion as Ben VanCamp, executive director of the Buncombe County Regional Sports Commission, approached Tim Hopkin, creator of the North Carolina Cyclocross Series. Hopkin began planning the obstacle course and organizing regional trial races three years ago. The result proved far better than the 2015 championship, scheduled for Austin, Texas, where last minute concerns about the root systems of heritage trees introduced delays that turned away several cyclists who were unable to reschedule flights. By contrast, this year’s course received multiple “best ever” raves. The course was a good mix of straightaways, slopes, and twists and turns. Cyclists had to navigate things like terraces, chutes, and roots and bumps. The weather started cold, but warmed toward the end. Home base was the Biltmore Estate, where cyclists enjoyed admission to the grounds for a mere $15 on top of race registration. The woes of waiting in lines at the gate and having to leave extra gear three miles from the start/finish line were easily forgotten with the thrills of the day. Peripheral events raising money for charity, like a bicycle repair contest, a foam party, and a film tour, were offered nightly, and world-class cyclists got to try out trails in other parts of the region.

local industry

countdown to

camp It’s a golden age for summer camps, and options are bountiful in Western North Carolina.

written by jennifer fitzger ald photos courtesy north carolina youth camp association


| March 2016

Summer Camp (noun) /səmər kamp/ 1. A place for youth to go when the school year has been completed in

order to learn new skills, gain independence, and cultivate leadership.

2. Can be overnight or a day camp. 3. Must have amazing counselors and activities. 4. Leads to lots of smiles and laughter. Synonyms: fun, awesome, experience of a lifetime “Mom, I can’t wait to go back to summer camp this year!”


t’s March, and, with summer approaching soon, many children and parents are anticipating and making their summer camp plans. It has been two years since Capital at Play reported on the state of camps in the area— so let’s take a closer look. Western North Carolina is home to a wide variety of camps—including traditional, day camps, and adventure/travel, many of them with specialized themes or orientations such as Christian, Jewish, academic, sports, special needs, Girl Scouts, etc. (See our full list of camps on p. 48.) With so many options that are available, how does a parent make the decision as to what is right for their child? Charlotte resident Kelly Leahy knew when her oldest daughter, Amelia, was ready for camp. “My oldest has always loved visiting and staying with family and friends,” Leahy says. “I felt that she would adjust to camp life easily as well. She was nine the first summer and there are campers as young as six. With my second child, it was more of a guessing game. But because her sister had two summers of camp under her belt, and would be there with her, we felt the timing was good. “I wanted them to have that experience. To have a chance to meet new friends, try new things. Friends that sent their kids always talked about how much their kids loved it.” Given the sheer number and diversity of camps in the region, selecting the right camp for a child can be an overwhelming task for a parent. North Carolina Youth Camp Association (NCYCA) Executive Director Sandi Garcia Boyer understands this, and says that

we are fortunate to have such a wealth of options. Her association, which was formed in 2009 to expand public understanding of summer camps in North Carolina and to represent their interests with policymakers, recently commissioned a study conducted by Clemson University, the Parent Perceptions Study, in which parents were asked to identify why they decided to send their child to camp. The top response was the reputation of the camp (50.1%); followed by the camp being consistent with their child’s interests (18.7%); a family history of attending the camp (14.8%); and “other” reasons (13.7%). The study also found that parents reported that camp helped their child grow and develop in the areas of resilience, cooperation, communication, critical thinking, and decision-making. Ninety-one percent indicated that attending overnight camp helped their child succeed in a school environment. Boyer notes that the study brought to the forefront the importance that parents hold for camp in building skills that aren’t necessarily taught in a classroom setting. “Skills like independence, confidence, and resiliency,” she says. “We have been a strong voice for the benefits of experiential outdoor learning for children, and will continue to advocate for these unique opportunities.” Among the benefits of camp highlighted in the study: helping youth navigate important life transitions; reinforcing life lessons that youth learn at home; preparing youth for independent living; building self-confidence; and providing opportunities for hands-on learning.

Academic Success

So does attending camp help prepare a child for college and develop leadership skills? March 2016 | 39

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“Healthy independence is a starting point for college success,” says Adam Boyd, who, along with his wife, Ann, are the executive directors of Camp Merri-Mac for girls and Camp Timberlake for boys in Black Mountain. “When we dropped our first child off at college,” Boyd continues, “we decided that the whole idea of thousands of 18-year-olds set free was a terrible idea. We had never been so glad that our daughter had the chance to figure out who she was in a safer environment. Leadership is about loving something. Since camps are a safe place to fail, they are a safe place to try things that campers are not sure they will be good at doing. That is how a girl discovers what she loves and what she is great at doing.” “We have actually been told by college administrator types that they have learned to recognize those kids during orientation who have been campers growing up,” Dan Singletary, director of Camp Timberlake, says. “These former campers know how to meet new people, know how to navigate class schedules, and know how to better take care of themselves because they have been doing this, oftentimes, since age seven or eight at camp. Campers develop a set of shock absorbers for life that kids who have been sheltered from time away from parents might not have. Leadership is also a huge byproduct of camp. Most good camps also offer leadership opportunities within their program in the summer.” 40

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Choosing the Right Camp

The majority of summer camps in North Carolina are located in the Western North Carolina area—over 60% of the state’s accredited residential camps. “These camps are steeped in traditions that span four and five generations, and they sit on some of the most beautifully preserved land in the country,” NCYCA’s Boyer says. “They all work incredibly hard to stay connected to the principles that make camp a valuable learning experience. You find this type of quality camp all over the state. North Carolina’s camping industry really understands how to work together to create the best possible camping environment for children from all over the world.” Leahy found her decision of camp selection to be an easy one. “I only looked at Camp Merri-Mac, because growing up [in Black Mountain], I used to deliver candy and chips to the camp with my grandfather on his vending route. It was the first place that came to mind, and once I researched it and saw that it was a Christian-based camp, there was no doubt in my mind.”

Traditional Camps

Camp Merri-Mac and Camp Timberlake are located on the same property in Black Mountain. Founded in 1945, 229 girls attended Merri-Mac last summer, and 105 boys attended Camp

Timberlake. Campers from 35 states and 17 countries enjoy over 30 activities, including riding, backpacking, climbing, canoeing, kayaking, rocketry, pottery, cooking, gymnastics, tennis, archery, riflery, basketball, paintball, dance, drama, yoga, swimming, diving, fencing, and puppy camp. Puppy camp, in fact, is a favorite with campers. It involves five lab puppies named after past campers. The campers are taught how to train the puppies throughout the summer. At the end of the summer, the puppies are adopted by camp families. (The idea came directly from Jimboy Miller, of Camp Greystone, another traditional summer camp for girls.) Amelia Leahy’s favorite Camp MerriMac activities are volleyball, cooking, and lacrosse, while her younger sister, Caroline, enjoys pottery. Girls from the age of six to 16 attend Merri-Mac. Adam Boyd says that parents should first send their child to camp as young as they can possibly stand. “The best growth from camp is the result of coming year after year,” he explains. “It can also be challenging to find a spot at a great camp when they get older. We start at six. Growth through friends and adventure can start very young, and it continues for generations.”

One of the benefits of attending Merri-Mac for Amelia is “going crazy and having tons of laughs.” She also looks forward to growing in her faith each year and being with friends. “One of my best friends I met at camp in my first year goes to my same school,” she says. “I have friends all the way from Oregon, Spain, and El Salvador that I keep in contact with year round.” Boyd says that children need four things to grow, all of which they can find at Merri-Mac. The first is friends. “We are made to live life together, and residential camps are a special place to do that,” he says. “Because we live together, the girls feel more like sisters than typical friends, and this happens very quickly. At camp, girls make friends with other girls who are older than them, younger than them, and completely different than them.” The second is adventure. “Adventure is taking a risk in a circumstance where you are not sure whether you will succeed,” Boyd says. “Children will only do this in a setting where they feel safe if they fail. This requires being surrounded by a certain type of friends—ones that will cheer them on when they succeed and when they do not. These sorts of friends are hard to find most places. Because the girls live together, they grow these types of friendships very quickly.” The third is mentors. “Girls need third party affirmation. It needs to be by people who are a bit older, but close enough that they can imagine themselves being like these people. Great counselors fit this bill perfectly.” And the fourth thing Boyd says that children need to grow is healthy independence. “Children need the opportunity to overcome adversity, and this is very difficult for us as parents to provide.” Leahy agrees that attending camp was beneficial in the growth and maturity of her girls. “For the oldest, it enhanced her confidence, allowed her to figure out more about what she liked and didn’t like within activities, and it taught her how to live with other girls her age,” Leahy says. “She absolutely adores camp and is staying for a month this summer! My younger child had mixed reviews. I think she enjoyed having lots to do each day and being a part of their ‘tribe,’ but she was much more homesick than her sister had ever been.” Camp Greystone is another traditional camp that was founded in 1920 by Dr. Joseph Sevier. His great-grandson, Jimboy Miller, is now the owner and executive director. Located on the headwaters of Lake Summit in Tuxedo, they have around 1,800 campers each summer, with most coming from the Southeast. Many states are represented—35 states last summer, as well as several countries, including Mexico, England, Switzerland, France, and China.

Children need four things to grow: friends, adventure, mentors, and healthy independence.

March 2016 | 41

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Campers choose from 50 different activities at the Christian camp for girls, which is non-denominational but has a strong faith component in their community. “Our emphasis is on excellence,” Miller says, “so that we glorify God in our work and tradition.” Miller sees parents sending their daughter to Greystone because of the “effects” they see when they return home from camp. “They are sweet, confident, genuinely thankful, interested in having deep, meaningful conversations, and even do chores around the house with a smile,” he says. “It is not just fun—it is one of the best things they can imagine for their growth. They [parents] will make the sacrifices necessary to provide this experience because it is worth it.” The most important thing Miller wants campers to take away from their camp experience is a sense of “richness” of life. “They grow in all aspects of their character—physical, social, spiritual, and mental— but the single best part of the growth is spiritual,” he says. “Here they discover that they actually like talking about ‘real’ things with their friends. They find a tight knit community of love that reflects the way life can be if we all just live the way we are supposed to. It is an inspiration and can transform a life in a very positive way.”

“They grow in all aspects of their character—physical, social, spiritual, and mental— but the single best part of the growth is spiritual.”

Day Camps

For many families, local day camps are a good option for their children, especially for the parent who works full-time. Many of these are specialized, with cooking, music, sports, and other activities as the focus. Bricks 4 Kidz is one of these camps that offers a variety of Lego-based activities, from motorized building projects to Lego art. It was started in the Asheville area in August of 2012 and is a mobile business, running camps in various locations throughout Buncombe and Henderson Counties. They average 300 campers per year. Their camp mission is to provide a safe, fun environment for kids to learn, build, and play. They offer camps for ages three to 14, with the popular Junior Engineering Camp designed for ages three to five in order to give them a great jumpstart on engineering at an early age. “All of our camps for grade school children use technology,” owner and director Wendy Land says. “The children make actual, moving machines using Lego bricks and motors at each camp. We also offer other technology-based camps, like Stop Motion Movie Making, Junior Robotics, and Robotics, which all use some form of computers and programming.” Bricks 4 Kidz camps feature popular themes like Minecraft, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and pirates. The camps help children get a head start in the fields of engineering and architecture. “We want our campers to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of a week of camp, plus we hope they made new friends, learned how to work well with others, and, most of all, had fun,” Land said. Camp Muddy Sneakers, also a day camp, seeks to educate campers about the natural world through hands-on exploration. 42

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OUR CAMP. OUR KIDS. OUR FUTURE. Fireflies. Campfires. Adventures. Friendships. The magic of overnight summer camp can transform a child. Nestled in the natural beauty of Swain County, YMCA Camp Watia is an affordable camp for all of our community’s children, and your support can help make it accessible for all. We’re so close. Be part of a once-in-a-lifetime giving opportunity—donate to YMCA Camp Watia today and help us reach our goal.

For more information on how you can make the dream a reality, contact us at or visit

» « March 2016 | 43







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“Our home base is in Brevard, but we have camp sessions in Brevard, Hendersonville, and Asheville each summer,” co-director Lindsay Green says. “We’re still a young camp and grow exponentially each summer. We added the younger camp sessions last year and saw a huge increase in the number of campers. We keep group size very small. Trail Blazers’ [rising fourth-seventh graders] sessions have a max of 12 campers, with two field instructors, and Nature Explorers’ [rising first-third graders] sessions have a max of 20 campers, with two field instructors. “We have base camps in three counties: Brevard, we use Brevard College; Hendersonville, we use the park at Flat Rock and Jackson Park/the Mountain Community School; and in Asheville, Ira B. Jones Elementary School.” Each day at Camp Muddy Sneakers focuses on a different nature themed topic and the older campers get to explore a different site each day. Green shares the memorable story of a large rat snake in the hood of the camp van several years ago. “It took quite some time to get it to find another location to rest. It was exciting to the campers, and many still talk about it when they return to camp. There are lots of special moments that occur when the campers are out in the field exploring or discovering nature around the base camps where we program.” Green says she wants campers to take away a growing interest in the outdoors from their camp experience. “Hopefully we ignite a spark that will continue to grow as they age.”


Make Sure Your Healthy Lifestyle Includes Your Oral Health! Hendersonville

685 Blythe Street Court Suite A




11 Yorkshire Street Suite B


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Where better to have a grand adventure than at summer camp? Many camps focus on adventure and oncein-a-lifetime experiences. MindStretch Travel Adventures, LLC, founded in 1978, and based in Columbus, North Carolina, is a travel camp for boys ages 10 and older, rather than a traditional residential camp. They offer the same

kinds of activities as residential camps, but enjoy these adventures in some of the most amazing natural areas in the United States. Campers occasionally take trips to international locations. This year, trips will be to Wyoming and Montana, with most time spent in the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. There will also be an eight-day adventure to the mountains of West Virginia and Tennessee. “Our mission is to offer travel experiences and outdoor [and indoor] activities as a means of broadening one’s life experiences in a safe and comfortable setting,” owner and director Mark Levin says. The most popular activity is the thrill of traveling to new places. “Over the years we’ve had trips all across the United States, including Alaska, as well as Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, and across Europe.” Levin believes that travel broadens the mind by offering experiences hard to find while staying put in a single residential location. “The experiences of their sons traveling with other boys and experiencing the world is good for the heart and mind,” he explains. “Camps do wonders to prepare boys and girls for the future. Just being away from home and learning how to adapt to different daily situations is an amazing opportunity for growth. Kids learn how to be independent in a safe environment.” Jay Ja lena k, a par ticipa nt on MindStretch Travel Adventures’ very first European trip (and a veteran of several others trips), is now an attorney in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He says the trip was one of the greatest adventures of his life. “Every day was a new experience. It was an education in history and different cultures. But most of all, it was an unparalleled education in living and traveling with a group. Our group worked together to chart our travel and plan our activities. No other travel experience allows the participants to have such input; that is the difference between a ‘tour’ and an ‘adventure.’ It is the one trip I still talk about all the time.”

photo courtesy of

Moondance Adventures

Iceland, Bali, Indonesia, Thailand, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Alaska, Hawaii—these are just a few destinations that campers will visit with Moondance Adventures this summer. Campers from 33 states and seven countries will enjoy adventures where they are challenged to leave their comfort zones. “We’re an adventure travel program for teens,” president and founder Hayes Hitchens says. “It’s a little bit different than your traditional summer camp.” Moond a nce Advent u re s of fer anywhere from two- to three-anda-half-week trips all over the world. While their offices are located in Asheville, they don’t have a physical camp site—campers meet up with their trip leaders in a gateway city. The dynamics and friendships form quickly, according to Hitchens. “They [campers] don’t know each other on the first day, and they are hugging and crying on the last day.” Campers are required to unplug the moment they arrive and are encouraged to “live in the moment.” “We don’t allow phones or watches,” Hitchens says. “Kids are so programmed to be at a certain place at a certain time—we talk about rising with the sun and setting with the sun. We do have a schedule to meet but we also like the fact that kids are not worried about time but are concerned with what is happening in the now. “We want them to have this chance of a lifetime trip. We want to deliver the most amazing experience they have ever had in a summer.”

What About the YearRound School Model?

A key finding in the NCYCA study was that 88 percent of the parents who responded were not in favor of year-round school. This academic model is increasing across the United States, with students attending the same number of days as students with a traditional school calendar. However,

year-round schools typically operate on a nine-week cycle with a threeweek break in between. With such a year-round schedule, many parents find it hard to map out a time for their child to attend a summer camp. “You will be hard pressed to find a group of people that are stronger advocates for children than those that work in the camping industry,” NCYCA’s Boyer says. “We absolutely want what is best for the children in our state. That being said, we believe that a year-round school calendar is not the best solution. For one thing, it costs the taxpayers more money. “The initial hopes of the year-round model being a more efficient use of school resources has been reflected in counties with a higher number of year-round schools, such as Wake County. In addition, the year-round calendar is not available for high schools, which results in many families having children on two different calendars at once. “We believe that the camping industry can be a much better partner in the fight to better educate our children. National studies have shown that a day or overnight camp experience eliminates summer learning loss. In addition, our study supports the fact that a camp experience has many other benefits that parents hope that their children will learn. “Our camps are exploring ways to support summer learning with a wide variety of programs (challenge courses, environmental education, creative arts, drama, even summer reading programs). A consistent summer calendar, with an appropriate amount of local flexibility for things like snow days, is essential to our industry. In addition, we are actively looking for ways to partner with parents and other organizations to help expand access to camps through things like providing scholarships, partnering with schools, etc.” March 2016 | 45

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Learning to Go Screen-Free

With many children being electronically savvy and connected to their smartphone and iPad at all times, camp can be a period of adjustment where they are “unplugged.” In addition, parents are used to being in constant communication with their children. “We are educating both parents and children about the benefit of building independence and being away from phones and technology,” Boyer says. “This is often a harder lesson for parents than it is for children.” Many camps require that campers are device-free, but utilize technology and social media like Facebook to keep parents informed about their child’s activities. “We are screen-free during our adventures,” Levin says. “Boys may use the director’s cell phone to call home if there’s a need. Parents are connected to our adventures, however. We post

“It’s always a little bit nerve racking until you receive that first letter from camp, or see the first pictures of them on the camp website,” Leahy says. “Being able to go in several times a day and look at the pictures from the day is always fun and allows you to feel connected to them in some way.”

Economic Impact

Results from a previous NCYCA study conducted in 2011 (and cited in Capital at Play’s June 2014 summer camps story) examined the economic impact of summer camps in Western North Carolina. The study found that the average expenditure per non-resident family while in the area was $2,096, with the average expenditure per seasonal staff while in the area $2,402. The total economic impact on the four counties of Buncombe, Henderson, Jackson, and Transylvania from residential summer camps was $365 million. Boyer mentions that when the 2011 economic impact study was conducted, the country was in the middle of a failing economy. “Since the rebound, we have seen a significant increase in the number of children attending camps in North Carolina,” she says. “We would expect that if another economic study was conducted, you would also see a significant increase in the dollars coming to the state from the camp industry.” “North Carolina is the Silicon Valley of camping,” Adam Boyd says. “A recent study showed that in four counties alone there is a $360 million economic impact and 10,000 full-time jobs resulting from camps. Add the thousands of acres of protected

“North Carolina is the Silicon Valley of camping. A recent study showed that in four counties alone there is a $360 million economic impact and 10,000 full-time jobs resulting from camps.” a blog each night along with a complete photo gallery of our day’s events.” “Campers have no technology, but we love technology for our parents,” Boyd says, of Camps Merri-Mac and Timberlake. “We want parents to have a one-way window into everything that happens at camp, but we want their campers to feel a healthy independence. So we are big on social media for parents.”


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land and positive educational impact on children, and you find a long term impact that is difficult to put a number to.” Camp Greystone is an example of this economic impact. Miller cites big payroll, significant property taxes and maintenance, renovation budget spent with local contractors, and thousands of parents who are visiting (to drop off and pick up their campers) often staying for several days as factors that have a positive impact on the Henderson County economy. “Nonprofit camps have also seen an increase in the amount of philanthropic money they are able to raise,” Boyer adds. “In most cases, these dollars go directly towards helping children who otherwise could not afford to attend camp.”

Camps of the Future

According to Boyer, over the last five years, summer camp staff have seen more pressure to spend time on “resume building” activities. She says that parents are also looking for healthier food choices at camps, noting, “Camps are trying to balance the ‘fun’ of s’mores and hot dogs with the desire to offer healthier and more local food options.” In addition, camps have traditionally been inclusive and welcoming places, and they are evolving as society does. “With the changing comfort around gender identify, camps are in the beginning stages of thinking about how this will impact them. Issues related to how to include campers with a transgender orientation in an environment where people are in residence, or even at camps that are single-sex camps, are a challenge.” Boyer says that there is a very competitive market for activities for children. Children have more options to choose from than ever before, and camps are constantly working to provide superior service and up their game. Summer camps continue to be a vibrant rite of passage for many youth in the area. They come to camp anticipating fun,

while parents hope they develop independence. They return every year because they make such close friendships. “In a time of less personal interaction and ability to truly connect with peers, camp is a beautiful option for parents to fight against the new normal,” Camp Timberlake’s Singletary says. “Our belief is that parents will choose camping because they want their kids to have real experiences outdoors with friends and be mentored by excellent role models. These opportunities are less and less, and we want to capitalize on that.  “We want our boys to learn what makes them unique and special while at camp. We also want them to find things that excite them in order to personally invest in becoming great at those things. We have watched former campers go on to achieve scholarships in college and even become professionals in activities that they learned at camp.” Summer will be here soon, and camps will be welcoming their campers with renewed enthusiasm and joy. “Camps have been a U.S. educational institution for over 100 years,” MindStretch’s Levin says. “While programs have adapted to the times, the traditional summer camp still holds value for a boy’s growth.” Adds Adam Boyd, “This is a golden age for camping. Parents are seeing the benefits of outdoor adventures for youth development, and the result is that camps are growing stronger.” To read Capital at Play’s June 2014 summer camps story, go to

80 Charlotte Street Asheville, NC 28801 (828)252-1594 March 2016 | 47

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Summer Camps List Western North Carolina






Black Mountain Center for the Arts




MindStretch Travel Adventures

ACDT Summer Camp for Boys & Young Mayan Warriors

Columbus, NC Adventure Treks

Asheville, NC

UNC-Asheville Sports Academy

Fox Mountain Rock Climbing

Flat Rock, NC

Pisgah Forest, NC

Asheville, NC summer-camps

ACDT Summer Camp for Kids Who Love to Dance

Hante Adventures

Pisgah Forest, NC

Asheville, NC

RiverLink Summer Camps Asheville, NC

Black Mountain, NC

Bricks 4 Kidz Asheville

Roots and Wings School of Art and Design Summer Creativity Camps

Camp Muddy Sneakers

Summer Quest

Brevard, NC

Asheville, NC

Camp Rockmont Day Camp + Black Mountain, NC

Summer Rocks at Emmanuel Lutheran

Climbmax Summer Climbing

www.emmanuellutheranschool. org/summer Asheville, NC

Asheville, NC

Young Entrepreneurial Scholars (Yes!) Camp

Crossfire Ministry Sports Camps

Candler, NC

Discovery Camp

Asheville, NC Blue Ridge Dance Camp

Asheville Area YMCA Summer Day Camps

Land of the Sky Wilderness School

Asheville, NC

App Development Summer Day Camp Asheville School 13 and older

Fletcher Summer Day Camp

Camp Carolina

Outward Bound Adult Adventure

Asheville Buncombe Youth Soccer Association Camps

Henderson County YMCA Summer Day Camp Hendersonville, NC

Cruso, NC Moondance Adventures

Asheville, NC

Asheville, NC

Asheville, NC

Asheville Music School Asheville, NC


Balsam, NC

Ballet Conservatory of Asheville Summer Workshops and Classes

Xplore USA

Asheville, NC

Asheville, NC

Asheville, NC

Fletcher, NC youth-services/day-camp Nike Basketball Camp Asheville School: Asheville, NC basketball/

Odyssey Community School’s Summer Camps Asheville, NC!blueridge-dance-camp/c109m TRADITIONAL Camp Arrowhead for Boys + Tuxedo, NC Brevard, NC

Camp Chosatonga + Brevard, NC Camp Daniel Boone Boy Scouts Canton, NC Camp High Rocks Cedar Mountain, NC 48

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Camp Mondamin

Camp Celo

Eagle’s Nest Camp

Camp Crestridge For Girls +

Tuxedo, NC

Burnsville, NC

Pisgah Forest, NC

Ridgecrest, NC

Camp Ridgecrest For Boys +

Camp Grier +

Green River Preserve

Camp Glen Arden

Ridgecrest, NC

Hendersonville, NC

Cedar Mountain, NC

Camp Rockmont +

Camp Henry +

Gwynn Valley Camp

Camp Green Cove

Black Mountain, NC

Canton, NC

Brevard, NC

Deep Woods Camp

Camp Highlander Family

Holston Presbytery Camp & Retreat Center +

Camp Greystone +

Banner Elk, NC

Brevard, NC

Mills River, NC

Falling Creek Camp +

Camp Judaea Jewish

Zirconia, NC

Hendersonville, NC

Timberlake for Boys +

Camp Kanuga

Black Mountain, NC

Hendersonville, NC Appalachian Institute for Creative Learning Swannanoa, NC Buffalo Cove Outdoor Education Center Earth Camp Blowing Rock, NC Camp Lakey Gap Special Needs + Adult Black Mountain, NC Camp Lutherock + Newland, NC

Camp Spring Creek Dyslexia

Camp Pinewood

Camp Pinnacle 6-16

Bakersville, NC

Talisman Camps Autism/ADHD Zirconia, NC Camp Bonclarken Flat Rock, NC

Hendersonville, NC Flat Rock, NC Camp Ridgecrest + Family Ridgecrest, NC Lutheridge + Arden, NC

Mountain Camp Highlands, NC Nike Smoky Mountain Running Camp Asheville, NC United Methodist Camp Tekoa Adventure/Day Camp /Special Needs Brevard, NC Camp Merri-Mac for Girls + Black Mountain, NC Camp Merrie-Woode Sapphire, NC Camp Pisgah Girl Scouts Asheville, NC Camp Ton-A-Wandah

Victory Junction Gang Camp Chronic Medical Conditions

Keystone Camp

Randleman, NC

Hendersonville, NC

YMCA Camp Watia Traditional/Adventure/Adult

Flat Rock, NC

Camp Illahee

Hendersonville, NC

Camp Wayfarer

Camp Tekoa +

Black Mountain, NC

Hendersonville, NC Asheville, NC

Camp Hollymont

Camp Kahdalea +


Blue Star Camps Jewish

Mars Hill, NC

Brevard, NC

Camp Cedar Cliff

Zirconia, NC

Brevard, NC

Camp Ridge Haven +

Hendersonville, NC

Zirconia, NC

Mars Hill Summer Music Camp

Tuxedo, NC

YMCA Camp Cheerio Traditional/Adventure/Adult Glade Valley, NC

Brevard, NC Rockbrook Camp Brevard, NC Skyland Camp for Girls Clyde, NC

Swain County, NC March 2016 | 49

barley is raked three times daily during the germination process.


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Mission For Brent Manning and Brian Simpson, a triple bottom line approach to business turned out to be exactly what they needed. written by jennifer fitzger ald photos by anthony harden March 2016 |



rent Manning and Brian Simpson took a leap of faith when they started their business.

“We jumped out of the plane, because in October of 2010, when we contracted our first barley crop, we didn’t know how to make malt; we didn’t have a finished business plan; we didn’t know where we were going to set up the business,” Brent says. “I freaked out,” Brian says. “We don’t have any money. We don’t have a building to malt in. And we’re going to have 40,000 pounds of barley in eight months.” Brent was 33 and a wetland scientist; Brian was 38 and a geologist; and those 40,000 pounds of barley were the beginning of Riverbend Malt House. This was definitely an encore career for both of them. They worked for the same consulting firm in Wilmington and their wives were in grad school together. Brent would go in and delineate the wetlands, then Brian would come in and assess the soils for new construction projects. There was a lot of back and forth between them. They knew the economy had overheated, and they needed to find something more sustainable, so they started thinking about things that were agriculturally-based, durable, and offered a consistent opportunity for growth. Craft beer kept coming up in the discussion. Brent’s homebrewing background led them to try malt. They wanted to be in Asheville and made the move here not knowing what the future would hold. The pair’s goal has always been to produce locally farmed artisan malts for local brewers, while at the same time lessening the impact on the earth. They had much to learn, however, about the craft and how to connect the local farmer and brewer. “We knew that if we didn’t take a risk, because of the nature of the growing season, it was going to be 18 months before we could work with North Carolina grain,” Brent says. “As luck would have it, by the spring of 2011 we had a strong business plan, we signed a lease on 2,000 square feet, and we had two tickets to Canada. By the fall of that year, we had kicked out our first successful batch of malt. It was a lot of fun—a lot of challenges along the way. We have a great group of growers and customers now.” In June of 2011, they headed to Canada to study at Winnipeg’s Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre. “They didn’t have a program,” Brian says. “We called them and asked them, ‘How do you feel about teaching two guys how to make malt?’” Their request was met with some laughter, but a program was developed for them that consisted of 50 hours a week for three and a half weeks. It was like getting a degree at a


| March 2016

university in malt science. Now the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre offers a malting program for those just starting out in the malting craft.

The Malt You may be asking, what is malt, and more important, what role does it play in producing beer? Malt is grain that has been dried in a process called malting. It is one of the main ingredients in beer. Many are familiar with hops, another ingredient in beer, but malt is beginning to come into the customers’ mindset. You can have beer without hops, but not beer without malt. It takes two pounds of malt to make one gallon of beer, compared to an ounce of hops needed to “hop” that volume of beer. The two were definitely on to something big.

The Farmer Most malted products were produced in large malt houses in the Western United States and Europe, placing a strain on the environment to ship the malt across the country to brewers. Brent and Brian wanted to form personal relationships with the farmer and the brewer. “This whole malt renaissance has re-connected brewers to the agriculture side of their business,” Brian says. “Until we came into play, brewers just made phone calls and the malt showed up at their door. They didn’t know where it came from. We are in a position now with craft beer that there are unique opportunities showing up all over the place, and we just have to be one of them. Getting good grain and getting our farmers into our program has been an interesting side to the business that we didn’t know anything about. “Brent and I are just a couple generations off of a farm, and we had no idea how grain was going to show up at the malt house. In fact, if you go back and read our first business plan, none of that stuff was in there. It’s probably 30 percent of what Brent does between now and June.” Part of the method to this madness is the commodity hamster wheel where, typically, farmers harvest grain, take it to a grain elevator, and receive a check onsite based on market price. The grain is then used for feed for cattle or hogs. Brent and Brian pull the farmer out of this loop with their contracting model. They go straight to the farmers and negotiate a contract price at the time of planting in October. Riverbend’s specs are tougher for the farmer to meet, but they always have the feed market as a fallback. At first the farmers thought they were crazy; what if the price they could receive at the grain elevator was more than they received from Riverbend? Brent and Brian continue to pull farmers out of this traditional loop and go directly to them with a price that makes sense to everyone. March 2016 |


brian simpson

Riverbend is using primarily barley, along with some wheat and rye. They do a lot of extra work to make sure the farmers have good seed to start with and good growing conditions. Sometimes they source the seed themselves, buying the seed, sending it to their grower, and making sure they have it onsite when it is time to plant. It’s a cost to Riverbend up front, but it does almost guarantee good barley. The Riverbend grain currently comes from North Carolina, Virginia, and Kentucky. Their farmers find that the grain works well with crop rotation and brings nutrients back into the soil.

The Process The grain that was planted in October is harvested the following June and arrives in “Super Sacks”—a huge white sack that holds 2,000 pounds of grain, which is now ready for the four step process of malting. The four steps—steeping, germination, kilning, and cleaning—take place at the Riverbend Malt House on Pond Road, near the Western North Carolina Farmers Market in West Asheville. There is no other operation like Riverbend in the Southeast right now. The closest malt house is in Wisconsin, which puts many miles between the grower and the brewer. Most craft brewers were sourcing their malt from Canada, the Pacific Northwest, or Europe. Riverbend’s customers are brewers throughout the Southeast, but generally in North Carolina. Their goal is a 400-mile radius for the barley and grain coming in and the grain going out, unless it is a special project. Riverbend brings a unique flavor profile to their brewers. The malt is locally produced, regionally sourced, and offers the brewer an opportunity to reduce their footprint. The high quality of the malt gives them a chance to use a nice ingredient in the beer while also promoting the locally made malt in their marketing plan to sell more beer. The Riverbend Malt stamp is something that can go on a can or bottle or on a tap room chalkboard to let their customers know that the brewer is dialed into a community focus. “You see the Riverbend stamp, you immediately now think it’s associated not just with regional or local, but it’s a high quality product. So this brewer is taking the time 54

| March 2016

to hand-pick a grain that’s going to go into their beer and say a lot about the region,” Brian notes. “Most beers might mention a style of malt but not a malt house. It’s a win-win for both. We end up making more product for them, and they sell more beer.”

The Barley

brent manning

Protein levels in malt are important to brewers and impacted by the type of barley used in the malting process. It can be six-row barley or two-row barley. The most obvious difference between a head of two-row barley and a head of six-row barley is the arrangement of the kernels. Six-row grows in a spiral formation and is tightly packed. Two-row—just as the name implies—has only two rows of kernels, and has plenty of room to spread out. All the kernels are nice and plump and evenly distributed. Riverbend uses a six-row barley, which is typically associated with high protein malt. Two-row has typically been associated with craft beer, while six-row has been associated with mass produced American lagers. Brent told Brian that you couldn’t make malt in North Carolina because only six-row barley can be grown here. He was repeating what he had heard from craft brewers and every book he had read. The two went to North Carolina State Universit y a nd met with David Marshall, a professor and USDA/ ARS research leader. They asked him if he thou g ht they cou ld make malt from the barley grown in North Carolina. Marshall said you can make malt with anything. To that, Brian replied, “Let’s roll.” The protein in the Riverbend six-row malt is right in line with the two-row British pale malts which are typically used as the crème de la crème of malt. “That was one of the big educational mountains to climb with our brewers,” Brent says. “OK—all that stuff you learned in brewing school is based on thirty- and forty-yearold information. We now have new varieties that address a lot of those issues. Looking at our spec sheet, protein is low, diastatic power is manageable.” (The latter is a measure of how much starch-converting enzyme any given malt contains.) “What they are discovering when they use our product—it’s the process that drives the flavor profile,” Brian says. “That’s

“This whole malt renaissance has reconnected brewers to the agriculture side of their business. We are in a position now with craft beer that there are unique opportunities showing up all over the place.”

March 2016 |


malting magic

The Riverbend malting process drives the flavor profile of their malt.

STE P 1 - STE E PING Two Super Sacks of raw barley go into each steep tank for the steeping process. The raw barley is submerged and then drained three times, allowing the grain to rest and for respiration to take place. Riverbend completes these cycles over a period of 40 hours.

STE P 2 - GE RM INATION The barley is transferred to the germination floor, where it’s now green malt that is starting to grow. Riverbend utilizes the traditional floor-malting method to control the germination rate. They control the bed depth of the barley and turn the grain with a rake, to dictate how much heat is kept in and released. The rake is pulled through the grain bed in two directions, three times a day. The germination process takes three to four days, depending on the type of malt being produced.



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During this step, moisture is removed from the grain to suspend the germination process. It is here that Riverbend creates the color and flavor of the finished malt. Brian and Brent helped designed the kiln that they use. The flavor developed in the kiln is the result of a unique mix of warm air flow and time. Specialty malts are dried at higher temperatures for longer periods of time or roasted following the kilning process. 

STE P 4 - CLE AN ING After kilning, the grain is transferred into a debearder to be polished—separating the rootlet material from the kernel. Riverbend then uses a refurbished, antique seed cleaner to isolate the plump kernels. This machine can process 3,000lbs per hour at maximum capacity. The grain then goes into the bagging hopper where it is packaged into 50lb bags or back into a Super Sack. The malt is then ready to be shipped out to brewers and distillers. 56

| March 2016

“ super sacks ” each hold 2,000 lbs. of grain the secret here. It’s not the grain variety or the style, as much as it is the process that drives that style.” “Specs get us in the door,” Brent says. “Flavor is what keeps them coming back.” There is a recipe to what Brent and Brian are doing. It’s almost like craft brewing. They are just craft malting. They bring little nuances to the process that contribute to the flavor of their malt, and it’s similar to the brew process—combinations of grains and recipes, temperatures and times, all work together to create something that is different from the other guys. There is a very artisan approach to what Riverbend does, and the process called for unique equipment and offered a challenge for Brian and Brent. “When we started we didn’t know what kind of equipment we were going to have,” Brian says. “We had to build everything ourselves. We would draw it on a piece of paper and had someone fabricate it. We knew the science behind what we were trying to achieve.” Brian designed the rake that is used in the germination process by looking at old text books on malting and adjusting the scale to the room size. The rake weighs about 40 pounds and offers the feeling of plowing through a field. Raking takes place

even on the weekends. In a large malt house, this process would be done with a machine. Brent and Brian love “playing off the old world/new world thing”: old world on the germination floor where they carefully rake the barley; new world on the kiln, where they can tap into and control the kiln via their smartphones, with an app they designed, along with their neighbor at Control Specialties. That’s important because all those times and temperatures were set manually in the past. Now, no more coming in at 3AM to control the settings. They even receive email notifications if there is a problem with the kiln settings.

The Name When coming up with a name for their business, Brent and Brian wanted something that reflected a new direction in craft malt. “We wanted something that captured the idea of an agricultural connection and alluded to a paradigm shift,” Brent says. “That’s where Riverbend started to pop out for us.” Riverbend was profitable in three years from the launch of the business. Some of that time was driven by an educational curve: Getting brewers to understand that six-row barley was March 2016 | 57

more versatile and could be used in a wide variety of styles and applications, while working through supply chain issues. Brent and Brian had to figure out the best and most efficient way to buy the grain, store it, and move it from point A to point B. That took time—and money—to figure out.

The Partnership What makes the partnership of friends Brent and Brian work so well? They have very unique personalities that blend well together. Brian describes himself as a wrench turner, while Brent describes himself as a phrase turner. “Technically, I call myself the CEO and Brian is the COO,” Brent says. “I do a lot of bookkeeping, sales, interviews, agricultural side. Brian is in here constantly, thinking of ways we can do these steps better and more efficiently, and really keeping a tight eye on the product. Fixing equipment. It’s worked out great. You need that yin and yang when you are starting a business. He’s not interested in balancing the books or cutting paychecks, and I do not know how to fix motors. We laugh a lot—decompress through miniature stand-up comedy acts. Both of us have the same goals—goals for family and community.”

Brent advises those looking to start any type of new business in the area to avail themselves of all the resources that are here. “We did Accelerating Appalachia; we did Mountain Bizworks,” he says. “Take advantage of all these resources that are at your disposal. They are here to help and it doesn’t cost you much money and is very beneficial. Don’t write a business plan that shows you making a profit your first year—especially if you’re in agricultural processing. Don’t try and go it alone. Have somebody to provide some balance and difference of opinion.” The creative culture of Asheville and the craft beer economy helped publicize what Riverbend was doing when they launched their business. Brent and Brian believe if they had started in a smaller city with one or two breweries, there would not have been enough synergy to drive things for them. “It is important the way Western North Carolina and Asheville celebrate the entrepreneur, celebrate local focus, community involvement, and environmental sustainability,” Brent says. “We fit into all those groups, and that really helped us publicize what we are doing and get off on the right foot.” Brent and Brian are founding members of the North American Craft Malting Guild. Craft malt is now an industry and they wanted to encourage that. The guild provides a central hub of information for those just starting out in the malting business.

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The Future Riverbend malted 40,000 pounds of grain their first year in business. This year they are on track to malt 470,000 pounds. Their biggest obstacle right now is production; they don’t have the ability in their current location to meet the demand for

settle in and we’ll really get this thing pumping and have a year or two and all of this will work. No, it was like—BAM—everything just popped, and within 16 months we were maxed out.” Riverbend currently has three full-time employees with plans to bring on one or two part-time employees. By the middle of 2016, they plan to increase to 10 to 12 employees, as well as at least doubling their production capacity. Their goals for the future include more living wage jobs, more connectivity to local farmers, interaction with the community, and continuing to work with nonprofits in town. They want to continue to educate others about the value of connecting the farmer to the craft brewery industry. That sums up their “Malt with a Mission”—developing a relationship with the farmer and the brewer, creating artisan malts, and lessening the industry’s impact on the planet. A triple bottom line approach of how they do business guides them each day. The belief is that if they do it right and do it long enough, the financial side of things will take care of itself. It’s not a drive to achieve material wealth. It’s about people, planet, and profit.

“It is important the way Western North Carolina and Asheville celebrate the entrepreneur, celebrate local focus, community involvement, and environmental sustainability,” their product. They are looking to expand again, as they maxed out of their current facility in 16 months—they anticipated it would take three years. “It really just took off,” Brent says. “It’s pretty scary sometimes. We were like, we’ll make this big move and we will slowly

March 2016 | 59




news briefs

One Second and Four Hours After matthews

“Power outages are unavoidable . . . but darkness is optional!” say the advertisers for SmartCharge. The company is crowdsourcing its second generation LED light bulb following the shipment of over 8,000 first-generation bulbs. The first generation bulbs were shaped like normal incandescents, but they contained a secret compartment with sensors and lithium ion batteries that charge during normal use. They were capable of providing light for four hours after the onset of a power outage. The bulbs have all applicable UL, CE, FCC, and ORHS certifications. They screw into standard sockets and require no extra hardware or rewiring. SmartCharge 2.0


is all of the above, except at 650 lumens it is twice as bright. It can work off voltage supplies of anywhere from 110V to 240V. And, unlike its predecessor, multiple units of SmartCharge 2.0 can operate off the same wall switch. It is hoped the IndieGoGo campaign will raise $50,000 to support mass production and distributorships throughout the world. The bulbs have a suggested retail price of $25, and they are rated at 40,000 hours—each.

Watering Pot on Steroids high point

High Point University senior Brandon Holder paid a visit to Haiti last spring on a church mission to teach English and arts and crafts to children. While serving in the village of Cange, he noticed the

people did not have an efficient way to water their crops, and saw how this was limiting food production. The water wasn’t that clean, either. So, when Holder got home, he formed Water the World, and began developing a portable solar/ battery-operated pump system. With help from his family, Holder went through several prototypes before settling on a few models for marketing. The product is capable of distributing 5.5 gallons per minute, and a detachable filtration piece with a 10-year lifespan can remove 99.99 percent of viruses, bacteria, and protozoa. The concept won Holder first place and $500 in the university’s Elevator Pitch Competition. He will sell to individuals, but is particularly interested in getting charitable organizations to buy the pumps to distribute freely. First Baptist Church in Asheboro and Stop Hunger Now were the first two organizations to purchase for charitable distribution.

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s disclosure that 25,000 customers were affected by technical difficulties in the 2016 Obamacare enrollment season is, according to corporate documents, a serious understatement. Problems with N.C.’s largest health insurer’s signup began surfacing as customers were unable to verify coverage or submit payments. With the Feb. 1 federal deadline looming, customers were finding they were assigned incorrect or multiple policies. Some are still waiting for ID cards, and some have cards with invalid numbers. Anne Corriveau has a policy good through 2199, but her credit card expired in 1753, so she is listed as being delinquent on her account. After 20 hours of red tape, she remained in limbo. Monica Dixon received multiple cards and multiple bills, which left her having to buy food and gas on credit. The N.C. Department of Insurance is intervening on behalf of 613 emergency cases, and the state Department of Justice claims its inquiries were met with “incorrect and inaccurate” responses. BCBS anticipated problems, but corrective action plans were inadequate.

56% of Americans have no idea how much they’ll need to retire.

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These Are the Droids You’re Looking For fuquay-varina

SuperDroid Robots, nestled in the back of an industrial park in Fuquay-Varina, is getting a lot of attention from TV networks. The business is viewed as a prototype of 21st-century mom-and-pop robot shops futurists predict will become commonplace. Last month, Fox aired a segment on the company on Xploration Earth 2050, and this month, the business will be featured on the Science Channel’s All-American Makers. CEO Susan Payne and engineer and inventor Charlie Payne were in the business of making and selling custom robots and parts long before they moved to North Carolina. The new location was chosen because it was near an international airport and a college with a good engineering program, and it offered affordable land and quality public schools. The Paynes don’t have a showroom, but they do build and assemble almost everything in-house. Customers include big names like Disney, Microsoft, and National Geographic; functions include surveillance, bomb disposal, remote-control snowplowing, remote doctor visits, and embedded wildlife reporting. The Paynes collected royalties

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new Carolinas Organized Retail Crime Alliance (CORCA), a coalition of law enforcement and retail loss prevention professionals in North and South Carolina aimed at combating the rise of retail theft crime. Citing annual losses of nearly $30 billion in the United States stemming from retail crime such as return fraud and identity theft/credit card fraud (which in turn results in higher prices for everyone), CORCA intends to provide education and networking opportunities, and to serve as a resource link for retailers and law enforcement. Plans are to promote a retail theft database, CORCA. org, created two years ago to track theft and criminal activity. The site currently has 510 retail and law enforcement users. NCRMA and its foundation, the Retail Consumer Alliance Foundation, have assumed financial responsibility, daily oversight, and management of the website, which will allow NCRMA to introduce the website to the retail industry for statewide use. CORCA will meet quarterly to provide insight and oversight of, plan an annual convention, and provide education. NCRMA’s professional staff will provide oversight of all CORCA operations, meeting preparations, planning, and accounting.


March 2016 | 61

the old north state

after Charlie helped build The Atomic Wedgie, which lost only to the Diesector in the championships of the second season of Comedy Central’s Battlebots.

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In a second attempt, Strata Solar won approval from Lumberton City Council to build a 5-megawatt solar farm on 103 acres inside the city limits. The location is mostly surrounded by woods, with the nearest home 800 feet away. But to get the requisite rezoning and conditional-use permit, the developers had to promise to surround the farm with a 25-ft. buffer with an initial height of 6-ft.. Council further stipulated that Strata must maintain the buffer and the facility for thirty years, which is the life expectancy of the solar panels. After the thirty years, Strata must remove the solar panels, but continue maintaining the land and the buffer. The trees on the eastern side of the field are to never be removed. Strata must further meet with council after 28.5 years to discuss an updated action plan for the site. But in the meantime, the megawatts from the solar farm should be sufficient to run 750-800 average-sized homes. Strata is one of the nation’s preeminent solar providers with over 500 megawatts installed and over a gigawatt under construction.

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Recent airings of videotaped attacks on Uber drivers, like the one perpetrated by a former Taco Bell executive, have prompted a response from corporate headquarters. Charlotte has been selected for a pilot program that places Bop It toys in the backseat of cars. The electronic toy from the 1990s, which looks like a partial steering wheel, commands the player, at an increasing pace, to “Twist it!” “Pull

it!” or “Bop it!” While initial response has been positive, Uber wants to continue the pilot awhile before expanding it to additional cities. In not so many words, Uber’s Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan explained the program was devised on the premise of the old adage that idle hands were the devil’s workshop. A parallel pilot program was launched by the company in Seattle, Washington. This program has backseat mirrors because people are less likely to act out when—again, in not so many words—they see how ridiculous they look.

Save Not So Much lexington

Save-A-Lot Food Store No. 575 paid $2,295 in civil penalties to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Standards Division. The store failed a random, unannounced inspection that compared advertised prices to prices scanned at the checkout counter. The Standards Division routinely conducts the inspections, and any store with more than a 2% error rate will be subject to a second inspection. Failing the second inspection will result in penalties and a probation period with re-inspections every sixty days until less than 2% of a collection of items overring. Additional penalties may accrue for failing re-inspection. The Save-A-Lot store failed a random August inspection with 3 overrings in a 50-item lot and failed again in November with 7 overrings in a 300-item lot. The store finally passed its November inspection with a 0.67% error rate. Save-A-Lot is a hard discount supermarket chain, with 1300 stores throughout the country and over $4 billion in annual sales.

Seeing Things morrisville

Lenovo and Google gave a sneak preview of a collaboration, Project Tango, at the internationally-renowned Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The

objective is to enable a user to interact in 3D with virtual constructs, as if in their environment, but via their smartphones, rather than with goggles or headsets. The project is headed by Jeff Meredith, general manager of Lenovo’s Tablet Business in Morrisville, but most of the engineers are working out of China. The developers will share no more than what was presented at the conference, but an Associated Press reporter provided color commentary: “In a demo of the capabilities of such phones, executives demonstrated how to play a virtual game of Jenga on a real coffee table, and they demonstrated how virtual pets could react to objects in the real world when caught in the phone’s gaze. One app also appeared to place virtual furniture and appliances in a room measured by the device to see if they would fit.”

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From February 1-14, the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival showcased different genres in multiple venues in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Highlights were to be big names Kevin McDonald and Emo Philips, an improvisation set, and native North Carolinian Sarah Barnhardt. Executive Producer and founder Zach Ward began the festival in 2001, with an educational mission. Back then, the only form of live comedy familiar to the general population was stand-up. He wanted to introduce comedians and attendees to the range of comedic variety. The festival is not much different from other business conferences. Professionals are given thirty minutes to present, workshops offer continuing education opportunities, and social mingles provide opportunities to network. The 2016 festival opened with (J) Rowdy (aka the Black Jedi) setting a Guinness World Record for freestyling hip-hop 12 hours and 36 minutes straight. Ward says there are many similarities between the two improvisational artforms.

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darrin williams


| March 2016


E NVI A B L E COMIC MAN! written by jim murphy photos by anthony harden

It’s a Renaissance period for the comic book industry. Darrin Williams should know—he stocks 300 new titles each month and moves nearly 1,500 copies per week.

March 2016 | 65


ike a superhero who masquerades as an unimposing civilian until he rips off his button-down disguise, the unassuming storefront on Asheville’s Tunnel Road offers little reason to suspect the incredible experience lurking behind the front door. Open that door, and Comic Envy bursts upon you with a kaleidoscope of color, a bewildering array of comics, posters, toys, masks, costumes, and action figures. Front and center stands a life-size cardboard cutout of the new Star Wars heroine, Rey. And from behind the counter, the lord of this unlikely domain, Darrin Williams, issues a smiling greeting: “Hi. Welcome. Let me know if I can help you.” It’s a neighborly— not to mention family friendly—shopping environment he intentionally cultivates. Darrin’s greeting usually includes the name of the customer, because most of the people who shop here are regulars. Many of them weekly regulars. In the comic universe, Wednesday is new release day, and on any given Wednesday you will find more than a dozen of Darrin’s most regular regulars sifting through the racks to find the latest exploits of their favorite fantasy creatures. They hurry in on Wednesday to be sure they can get their favorites before they sell out. The customers have a wide array of characters and plot lines to choose from. The various comic publishers issue about 300 new titles every month, expanding on the adventures of their popular heroes. Most of the plots are serialized, so a complete story may cover as many as seven or eight issues. The comics themselves run about 32 pages on glossy paper, with a few fullpage advertisements for related items. The cost varies, with most of the titles in the $3.00 range. The headline characters— not all of them are “heroes”—include such luminaries as Dr. Fate, Sinestro, Hangman, Hellboy, and Guardian of Infinity. The roster could dominate a Saturday night line-up in the toughest of police precincts. Compared to the apocalyptic characters in the comics, the customers present a far different profile. They are a mildmannered, well-spoken bunch, mostly under 30, often male (although females still comprise a healthy percentage of the store’s clientele), and quick to describe themselves with a smile as “nerdy.” They all have their favorite characters; they all admit to having comic collections of at least several hundred issues; and they all trace their attraction to comics back to their youth. Speaking of which, youngsters (along with their parents) can usually be found browsing the aisles, including a display devoted specifically to kid-friendly titles. On a recent Wednesday, for example, one of the regulars, Tim Worsham, slid the latest Deadpool comic into a special protective sleeve. He got serious about collecting 10 years ago when his son was born, and today he has brought his two younger daughters out shopping with 66

| March 2016

him. They are sifting through baskets of buttons showing comic heroes. Tim works as an auditor, and he keeps track of his comic investment, which he estimates at $2,000 to $3,000 a year. He says he’s assembling a collection for his son. “Maybe some day he’ll be able to sell them and buy a car,” Tim says. Comics have become a family affair; Tim’s wife is a Wonder Woman fan. “She got really interested when they announced a Wonder Woman film is coming out. Movies bring the characters to life.” In a display of coincidence—or perhaps an unexplained cosmic reality—many of the Comic Envy customers reflect the manner and personality of their host, Darrin Williams. He presents a friendly face, soft voice, easy grin, and thoughtful attitude as he tries to explain the appeal of comic books. “It’s almost a love affair,” he says, and then pauses for a long moment. “I wish there was a word between ‘hobby’ and ‘cult’ to describe the phenomenon.” Darrin began collecting comics when he was 10, never guessing that by the age of 45 he would be the king of a successful comic venture. “I was an Army kid,” he says, to explain his own comic roots. “We moved around every year. It was easier to go down to the PX and find a comic than to find a new friend.” Once he grew up, he had no obsession with comics, and he doesn’t remember carrying any hidden dream to become a comic entrepreneur. However, necessity reared its opportunistic head when he and his wife, Laura, arrived in Asheville. Darrin took his history degree and retail experience out into the

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March 2016 | 67

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local job market, and quickly learned a sobering lesson: Asheville is a great place to live, but a difficult place to make a living. “There were just no jobs. We were expecting a baby, and fortunately we had some savings. I said to Laura, ‘If we don’t do it now, we’ll never do it. And if we don’t do something soon, we’ll just have to leave here and go somewhere else.’ It was scary, but she was really supportive. We decided to go for it.” Darrin’s wife, Laura, looks back at the fateful decision from the comfort of eight successful years. But in the beginning it was not at all comfortable. “I thought he was insane, but he was really devoted to the idea,” she recalls. “It’s hard to be discouraging in that situation, so I went along with the idea. I was four months pregnant when the store opened, and I was afraid that if it didn’t work, we would be dependent on our families for years.” Laura not only supported his decision, it was she who came up with the puzzling name, Comic Envy. “I don’t remember how I arrived at that name. We both kept coming up with names that didn’t seem to work, and one day I was looking through an app store, and there must have been an app that prompted me to think Comic Envy. At first, it didn’t seem like such a good idea. People thought we were a comedy nightclub. We had a lot of calls asking, ‘When are your performances?’” The original Comic Envy opened in an out-of-the-way, hard-to-spot location off Tunnel Road. The store, part of a small, sleepy strip mall, was so cramped that Darrin compares it to a walk-in closet. He stocked the place with the cartons full of comics that he’d been buying on eBay and that were beginning to fill every available space in their home. “That might be what convinced Laura to support the idea,” he says, grinning at the memory. “She wanted to get all those comics out of the house.” Those cartons of comics went into his tiny new store in 2008—just in time for the recession. “It was rough,” Darrin says, with a grimace that suggests “rough” is an understatement. “That first year was really tough. A new baby in the

house and a new business that we didn’t know whether we’d make it or not. When the market was in freefall there was a point that I thought, ‘Oh God, what am I doing?’ But I’m an optimistic guy, and I knew I could open a successful comic store in Asheville because Asheville is unique and so art driven and there wasn’t anyone here fulfilling that niche.” But success didn’t come without some harrowing moments. “When I first opened, I thought I was going to open the doors and everybody would be there.” He grins and shakes his head as he recalls an early mistake. “I ordered with that in mind, and I over-ordered so much stuff. I probably still have some of those comics. I quickly realized it’s going to be a slow build. I had to suck it up for four weeks,

material here, from action figures and hardbound books to memorabilia and gear, to bust the budget of the nerdiest customer. The “Stuff” amounts to “50 percent of my sales by dollar amount,” he says. And then, with an expansive wave to underline his point, he adds, “And Star Wars is massive. MASSIVE. In the last three months it has amounted to ten percent of my sales.” Another significant component of Darrin’s product line is back issues. Along two walls of his store is a line of metal shelves, each stacked with cartons of comics, all neatly labeled with the year of publication and the title heroes. A quick count produces the estimate that this back-issue stock amounts to about 40,000 old comic books. Where

“I’m an optimistic guy, and I knew I could open a successful comic store in Asheville because Asheville is unique and so art driven and there wasn’t anyone here fulfilling that niche.” but after that I was able to get my orders down to a manageable level.” He adds that it wasn’t until “towards the end of our second year when I knew we’d be OK. That’s when we reached 50 subscriptions.” He explains that subscriptions represent those dedicated collectors—the most regular of his regulars—who have a standing order for their favorite titles. When the new editions arrive every Wednesday, he sets the subscription orders aside. They amount to guaranteed sales, four or five (and maybe more) comics for each of those subscribers. The 50 subscriptions amounted to a base income that allowed him to breathe a bit easier. Ever the entrepreneur, Darrin began investing his profits into expanding his product line. The sign outside his store advertises “Comics, Toys, and Nerdy Stuff,” and indeed, there is plenty of

did he get them all? He laughs at the question. “People come in every day wanting to sell me the collections they’ve had stored up in the attic since they were kids. In fact, it’s one of the hardest parts of my job. Most of them aren’t rare, aren’t even uncommon. They’re not worth anything. And I hate to be the one who has to say no.” But some old comics are worth quite a bit. Displayed in protective plastic wrapping is a copy of The Amazing Spider Man #50. It sold for 12 cents when it was published in July, 1967; the price on Darrin’s copy is $200. Prices for rare originals can go far higher. Darrin is happy to recall the time three years ago that he sold a copy of the first X-Men comic—Volume One, Number One—for $1,500. “That was a day I’ll always remember,” he says. Darrin put together enough memorable days that three years ago he was able to

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thousands of

back issues fill the store’s shelves.

a customer

pondering this week’s purchase.


| March 2016

expand to his current Tunnel Road location. The store is about three times the size of his original “closet,” and it reflects all the time and energy that he puts into the venture. In one way, all the hours he works present a burden. “Yes, I’m successful, but part of my success is that I’m working all the time. I spend 45 to 50 hours in the store, and another 10 to 15 at home. I have two kids, and when I think about the time I put in working, that’s time I’m not spending with the kids.” He pauses, an uneasy look on his face that says he just doesn’t know how to change a perplexing situation. But all those working hours produce some enjoyable moments. “Every Wednesday, it’s a little bit like Christmas. I get to open the shipment of all the new issues, and get the first look at all this new stuff to marvel at.” And beyond the routine joys of discovery, Darrin’s favorite moments come unexpectedly. “The most satisfying part of the job is when some collector comes in looking for some particular issue, and I have the last copy of what he’s looking for. It’s like I’m handing him a holy grail. The look on his face... it’s just great.” Beyond the comics, the extra space in his new store has allowed Darrin to expand his product lines to every nook of the fantasy market. He says the other products, the puzzles, games, costumes, and assorted trinkets, now amount to nearly half his sales. But comic books are what ultimately drive the business. On a recent Saturday Lilah Welsch, an environmental studies


WORDS So it’s your first visit to a comic book store, and all those collectors jostling for space in the aisles are seemingly speaking a foreign language. What the heck does “pre-code” or “bag and board” mean, anyway? But wait - before you slink out the door, intimidated and embarrassed, know that Comic Envy’s Darrin Williams feels your pain, so he is here to guide you through a handy glossary of everyday terms used in the comic industry. Master these and soon you will be a comic book store veteran yourself, and the envy of all your friends!

bag and board

williams examines a shelf of products.

major at UNC Asheville, is checking out with a coffee mug and a stack of comics. She says her enjoyment of the comic form runs deep, adding that she thinks of it as “cultural literacy.” She laughs as she admits, “I just spent $40 here. My favorite comic is Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.” (Yes, folks, there is a comic hero named Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.) “I have all 11 issues,” she says, “and a bound volume that includes all of them.” Her friend, a mass communications major who gave her name only as Gray, is also enthusiastically pro-comic; she announces that she would soon borrow Welsch’s bound volume so she could catch up on Squirrel Girl’s early adventures. The customers mostly agree that it is not the art but the story that drives their interest. Daniel Hutchinson, who works in supply at Borg Warner, is fanning through some comics as he estimates his collection includes about 1,500 issues. He says his preference is for stories that “will take me out of this world. It gives me a new perspective.” He joins in the consensus that the story is more important than the art. “The writing is the most important part. If it doesn’t have a good story…” His thought trails off into a dismissive shrug. At another rack of comics, Stefan and Joey Metcalf are culling a stack of titles down to a manageable purchase. The 26-year old twins are unnervingly alike in both appearance and thought process. They share their sentences with a rhythm that suggests each knows when the other is about to take over. They also share their 400-volume comic collection and their ideas on what

The plastic sleeve and cardboard insert most commonly used to store and protect single-issue comic books.

single issue (floppy, monthly ) Typically a 24-page comic book that comes out once a month. Special editions may have a higher page count, or come out more often!

tr ade A collection of single issues bound in a paperback or hardcover volume. Usually a completed story-arc of an ongoing monthly comic or a finished story.

golden age Comics that were published from the 1930s until 1957.

silver age Comics that were published from 1958 until 1970.

pull folder (subscription , box ) A subscription service offered by many comic stores to regular customers. New single issues that come out are collected and held to be picked up by customers once a week.

pre - code A comic from the late 1940s or early 1950s, before a strict set of rules and standards had been set in place to regulate the comics industry.

gr aded

A comic book that has been reviewed by a professional grading company and assigned a ‘grade’ from 1.0 to 10.0. Most graded comics are kept in a hard plastic case.

the big t wo

Mar vel and DC , the two biggest publishers currently operating, producing mostly superhero comics.

bronze age Comics that were published from 1971 until the mid-1980s. March 2016 |


makes the books attractive. “It’s the tangibility,” Stefan says, and Joey picks up the thought. “The comics are physical. You can go through them at your own pace.” They enjoy the art, but they agree that the story is the most important element. “Does it connect with you on a personal level?” Stefan says, and to no surprise, Joey agrees. They check out with about eight comics. The checkout counter is busy, ringing up orders both large and small. One customer buys a stack of 19 comics and a bound paperback volume for a total price of $119.99. Floor manager Allison J e n k i n s s ay s t h a t an order that size is nothing unusual. Allison has worked at Comic Envy for six years, and she bubbles with energy when she talks about her job. “I get to talk about Batman all day. What could be better?” she says, quickly adding, “The people here are incredible.” “Incredible” seems like a good word to describe everything about the place—particularly the annual extravaganza known as Free Comic Book Day, held the first Saturday of every May. For the event, the comic industry publishes unique,

special-edition titles for the stores to offer for free to customers while supplies last. (The comics are not free to the stores, but the accompanying boost in business more than makes up for the cost.) At Comic Envy, the day has taken on a life of its own. “Last year we had 1,600 people here,” says Darrin. “I hired someone to direct traffic and got my neighbors to open up

“I get to talk about Batman all day. What could be better?” she says, quickly adding, “The people here are incredible.”


| March 2016

their parking areas. There were people outside dressed up as Star Wars characters. We have comic book artists here that day doing sketches for kids. It’s incredible.” (There’s that word again.) Darrin rides a wave of enthusiasm as he continues. “I ordered 4,000 comics to give away last year, and they all went. Even with all my expenses, it’s my biggest day of the year. It’s my Black Friday,” he says, comparing the event to retail sales on the day after Thanksgiving.

Again, Laura was the reluctant supporter of the venture: “I thought it would be a nightmare, but he pulled it off. I said, ‘You’re crazy, it can’t be done.’ But he did it in a week. Now I trust him in whatever he sets his mind to. Every time I’ve told him he’s crazy, he’s always made it work.” And now Darrin is turning his attention to another ambitious venture, one which Laura is confident he will achieve. His entrepreneurial spirit is pushing him from Tunnel Road toward the southern limits of the Asheville region. He wants to open a second store in the Hendersonville Road area. “I’ve actually looked at spots,” he says. He believes he can handle the additional responsibilities—with help. “I have great employees. And I know I can increase their hours here to give me free time to be at a second location.” He hopes to open a new store later this year, “But one lesson I learned from my first store is location, location, location. As soon as I find the right spot, I’m ready to go.” By his own count, Darrin reads about 20 comics a month, stories that conjure fantasy worlds with outrageous perils and sumptuous rewards. And in this world outside the comic pages, he sums up his real reward: “I’m making a living doing something I love.”

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It was Darrin’s first Free Comic Book Day—back when the store was in the hidden strip mall—that convinced Laura the venture might be a success. “When we had Free Comic Book Day, I was amazed at how many people showed up. I looked at him and thought, ‘What did you do?’ I said, ‘There’s something here.’ He really has an instinct for it. He goes with his gut most of the time, and it all turns out right.” As a professional social worker, Laura has developed a theory on the popularity of comics and on the devotees who contribute to that popularity. “I think it appeals to people who are smart, but have not found community as easily. Something about comics makes them feel less odd.” As for herself, Laura wasn’t necessarily a comic fan. “But Darrin loved them so much that I envied him for that passion.” Darrin promotes another annual event, which has quickly become bigger than he had anticipated. He created a one-day festival called Comic Expo in 2011, and last October it drew 2,000 people to the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Asheville. “We had 200 vendors; we had artists doing superhero sketches of people; we had seminars and lectures.” The only downside, he notes, is that downtown parking was so difficult, some customers gave up and went home.

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GenArraytion, a seven-person biotech company, worked 21 days to develop proprietary analytical software that detects the Zika virus through mosquito genome analysis. The test relies on gene-sequencing data maintained by the National Institutes of Health. The development followed alarms from the World Health Organization (WHO), and came to fruition as the WHO officially declared the Zika virus a public emergency. Representatives from GenArraytion are now attempting to learn from the United States Food and Drug Administration what is required to obtain pre-emergency use authorization, which would allow their product to be used without approval in light of the public emergency. The Zika virus can cause paralysis, and the WHO strongly suspects

Virginia officials weren’t so thorough, relying only on the word of the applicants, a website with lifted text and photos, and a bogus North Carolina address. The deal, negotiated in closed-door meetings, was publicly mentioned only with the code name Project Honey. It came to light with fanfare under a white tent as state officials gathered to announce a new, Chinese ceramics company that would create 349 jobs, paying an average salary of $32,000, and invest $113 million in the community upfitting an abandoned furniture plant. A year later, noting the project had stalled, Virginia officials asked to see financial statements. They declared the project dead on December 8, due to inactivity and nonpayment of fees and taxes. The state is now attempting to recover the $1.4 million cash grant.


a causal link to brain defects in unborn children. Founded in 2007, GenArraytion is a private company that received no outside funding for the Zika test. CEO Paul Schaudies therefore wants to sell or license the test to another company to handle supply and distribution.

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The taxpayers of Virginia, through the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, supported a $1.4 million check written to Lindenburg Industry, LLC, for Yunshan Li and Anyuan Zhu. The duo had abandoned an attempt to get incentives for a plant in Eden, North Carolina, before authorities could ask too many questions.

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OneGo is offering flight subscriptions. For around $1500-$3000 a month, users will be able to book flights with seven days’ notice and hold up to four reservations at a time. Founder Paulius Grigas intends the subscriptions to help

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customers avoid airfare volatility and unreasonable premiums for last-minute travel. Currently, OneGo works with seven of the largest airlines in the United States and services 76 airports, among which are all major United States cities. A basic OneGo subscription has options for upgrades; for example, an additional $750 per month will enable the holding of up to eight simultaneous reservations, and an extra $950 will allow unlimited flight changes. The idea is not new. Airlines have offered subscriptions in the past, but they didn’t work because they cost about five times as much. OneGo’s mobile app launched February 1, and it should be available through Apple’s app store March 1, with an Android version in the works.

only one in five data center servers is fully used. The waste of running and cooling idle servers is estimated at $30 billion a year. In response to these costs, Jakob Carnemark, CEO of Aligned Energy, has opened a pay-as-you-go data center in Plano, Texas. Using aluminum sinks modeled after diffusion technology on smartphones, Carnemark will be able to pack servers more closely and use only 150,000 gallons a day in water, as opposed to the industry average of one million. The Plano facility will further use original software to monitor server use and adjust cooling accordingly. After Lenovo purchased copies of the software, it reported savings of 60-80% in power consumption.

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Data centers represent a $200 billion industry. Clients are charged in accordance with how much space their servers occupy and how much power they expect to use. Customers tend to overestimate, leaving room to grow, but the result is comatose servers. It is estimated that, at any given time, one in three servers in the world is idle, and

national & world

de Keijze is a professional bird handler. His company has over twenty-five years of experience working with raptors. He and CEO Sjoerd Hoogendoorn are now working with the Dutch National Police to train the birds not only to identify and capture hostile drones, but to drop them where nobody will be hurt and property won’t be damaged. A video released by the company shows an eagle capturing a drone midflight and parking it in the corner of a hangar. GFA capitalizes on eagles’ natural hunting instincts, including their magnificent speed and power. Studies are currently underway to assess risks of carbon-fiber propellers damaging the birds’ talons.

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Guard From Above (GFA) is developing a fast-acting, safe, and effective method of decommissioning hostile drones. Older concepts have involved jamming signals or deploying a larger drone to cast a net. By way of contrast, GFA’s method is environmentally-sensitive and low-budget: birds of prey. COO and co-founder Ben

Alphabet, the parent corporation of Google and “Other Bets,” rose to become the world’s most valuable corporation. It passed Apple, which had held the crown for four years, passing Exxon Mobil Corporation in 2011. Earlier reports valued shares considerably higher, but February 1, Alphabet’s value was reported as $542.2 billion; Apple’s, $530.6 billion.

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At the time, Alphabet shares hit a record high of $784.77. Apple actually generates three times more than Alphabet in revenue and profit, but investors are betting on corporate prospects. Whereas Apple profits off the sale of premium, cutting-edge products, Google is in the business of selling ads to power its free services. In the latest reporting period, CEO Sundar Pichai managed to increase ad clicks 31% while dropping average prices 16%. Google is responsible for 99.4% of Alphabet’s revenues. “Other Bets” includes initiatives like developing artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, and age-defying treatments.

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Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A unveiled its newest model XDiavel in the United States. The model is intended to compete with Harley Davidson cycles by combining beautiful Italian design, modern technology, and tight-handling horsepower. The XDiavel, x-ed up from the 2011 Diavel model, is Ducati’s first foot-forward cycle. Muscle features include a 156 hp engine, launch control for full-throttle starts, and 40 degrees of lean. The machine’s maximum torque had to be dropped from 8000 to 5000 to fit more with American tastes, and this model is noticeably 200 pounds lighter than a Harley. An onboard LCD screen shows, via blue-tooth, whatever is on the rider’s smartphone display along with normal motorcycle dashboard displays. This cycle comes in any color the image conscious may want, as long as it is sleek, bold, and black. Base models will sell for $19,995.

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The US Patent and Trademark Office granted No. 9,250,734, “Proximity and

Multi-Touch Sensor Detection and Demodulation” to Apple. The patent was first filed in March, listing Steven P. Hotelling and Christoph H. Krah as inventors. The patent, which may or may not be used any time soon, allows non-touch, gesture-based input. It builds on a 2006 patent for simultaneous input capacity for touchscreens. A normal LCD display on a portable device would be backed by arrays of proximity sensors. The sensors would consist of infrared LEDs that bounce light off nearby objects, and photodiodes that alter circuit current proportionately to the amount of light returned. The sensors would be connected to the same analog channels as a device’s touch sensors; plus, the technology would eliminate the need for the proximity sensors iPhones now use to detect when a head is close enough to be within earshot.

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Lumber Liquidators was sentenced to pay $13 million for importing hardwood flooring in violation of the Lacey Act. Lumber Liquidators plead guilty to environmental crimes, having made hardwood floors in China from Mongolian oak illegally cut in Russia. The oaks are deemed essential habitat for endangered Siberian tigers and Amur leopards because their prey eat the acorns. The company agreed to pay $7.8 million in criminal fines, $3.15 million in civil forfeitures, $1 million in criminal forfeitures, and $1.2 million in community service contributions. The company further agreed to submit to a five-year probation period. Charges included lying about the origin of wood on official documents. About $1.2 million in proceeds from Lumber Liquidators’ sentence will go toward the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the USFWS Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund to develop technology to better track the origin of wood passing through official checkpoints.

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Memphis Meats recently joined Mosa Meat in the quest to create marketable lab-grown meat. In fact, they just unveiled the world’s first artificially-grown meatball. According to a video, it looks, cooks, and tastes like real meat. Whereas Mosa Meat is growing beef, Memphis Meats is growing pork. Both companies expect to have marketable products within three to four years. The in-vitro meat would begin as a high-end product; Mosa Meat’s first stem cell burger sold for $330,000 in 2013. Currently, fetal bovine serum, extracted from the blood of unborn calves, is an essential ingredient in the starter sauce, which defeats the purpose of having animal-free beef. So, both companies are trying to develop a plant-based substitute. Another problem is, keeping the tissue oxygenated in the absence of blood flow has constrained meat growth to thin layers.

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In response to the recent consumer scares regarding hoverboards catching fire due to meltdowns of the lithium ion batteries powering them, Hoverboardvault, a national supplier of hoverboards and self-balancing scooters, announced last month that it would be partnering with a manufacturer of fire resistant charging bags for its hoverboards. The automobile and aviation industries, already aware of the risk of meltdown for batteries, have used fire safe bags for years as a means of containing the blaze should such a meltdown occur. Hoverboardvault plans to offer different sized bags, and suggests not only using them for long-term storage—and, presumably, for shipping, given that both the airlines and Amazon have weighed in against hoverboards—but also for routine charging.

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& On the



In opening his second climbing gym, Stuart Cowles fulfilled a longtime dream. written by toni sherwood photos by anthony harden

“BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR IS A LOT LIKE ROCK climbing,” Stuart Cowles says. “When you’re climbing a rock face on lead, you leave your protection below to travel higher, so you’re climbing in a risky situation. It’s scary. There’s some protection, but it’s calculated. And there are consequences.” Cowles is a nationally certified climbing instructor who has been active in the sport for almost 30 years. His downtown Asheville business, Climbmax, was among the very first climbing gyms in the United States when it opened 22 years ago. And then in January he launched his newest business, the Smoky Mountain Adventure Center (SMAC), located on Amboy Road 78

| March 2016

stuart cowles

March 2016 | 79

capital adventurist

A 40 - ft. outside climbing

wall at Climbmax

across from Carrier Park in Asheville’s burgeoning River Arts District. As is so often the case, the venture has its roots in previously forged personal relationships.

Location, location, location Daniel Nash is an investor who makes his home in both Asheville and Los Angeles. He met Cowles when he enrolled his daughter at Climbmax in 2009 for climbing instruction. “Stuart works really hard,” Nash says, “I have a lot of respect for him.” As Nash watched his daughter excel at the sport under Cowles’ guidance, the two men became friends. By then, Climbmax was a thriving business, but Cowles had already begun looking towards the future. “At 50, I’m looking for something more than the equity in my home,” he says. “Climbmax rents space from the City of Asheville, so I have no equity in the property.” Cowles began searching for the perfect spot to build his dream business: a sports activity center in Asheville. At that time the River Arts District (RAD) was still a murky proposition. With graffiti-tagged buildings, little foot traffic, and few businesses, creative vision was required. 80

| March 2016

“When Stuart first started looking at the River Arts District, the appeal was not apparent,” Stephanie Brown, Executive Director of the Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau, says. “That was before the city had allotted funding to do the greenway. Before Harry Pilos came along.” Brown is referring to the RAD Loft project currently being developed by Harry Pilos’ company, Delphi Development, LLC. The RAD Lofts are a high-density, urban mixed-use development, which will be located at the intersection of Roberts Street, Depot Street, and Clingman Extension. The project will bring more restaurants, retail, and housing to the River Arts District, as well as more tourists. “Stuart had the foresight and the great timing to invest in the River Arts District,” Brown says. “He was part of the catalyst to get the ball rolling. Now it’s a no-brainer.” Cowles eventually pitched his proposal to Nash: to form a partnership and purchase the land upon which he would build his new business venture. Nash wanted to be more involved in the Asheville community and saw this as an opportunity. They formed the Asheville River Development, LLC, a 50/50 partnership. Nash admits he deferred to Cowles when deciding on which plot to purchase. “Stuart said, ‘I like this one best’, so I said,

don ’ t try this at home, kids!

‘Okay,’” Nash recalls. “He thought the area would continue to grow. This was before the [New Belgium] brewery came, so Stuart was right.” Cowles felt strongly that the .96-acre parcel across from Carrier Park was the right piece of land, although it had its issues. “It was not an easy decision,” Cowles admits. ”It was going to be problematic to build on.”

Uphill Climb Although the project finally broke ground in February of 2014, it was a long hard road to completion. “Part of the delay was applying for a loan in one of the most difficult times to get a loan,” Cowles says. With conservative lenders shying away from risk, convincing banks to lend to a small start-up business was challenging. He and Nash owned the land outright, and they used this as collateral, as well as Cowles’ residence, to secure the loan. Cowles then sold off his stock portfolio in order to have cash available to offset construction. “The ironic benefit, in hindsight, is that I got an amazing mortgage rate,” Cowles says. Because SMAC would be new construction, it would have to be flood proof at two feet above the 100-year flood plain (meaning 11’ 3”) to meet city building codes. They had a few choices on how that would be achieved: build a flow through building elevated on piers (which could

the le ad climbing wall in Smoky Mountain Adventure Center spans 32

feet—nearly three stories in height. March 2016 |


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not be heated); build an elevated structure with parking beneath; or somehow make the building flood proof. Each choice had pros and cons, but they were all expensive. Cowles estimates 40 percent of the construction costs went into flood proofing, driving total costs up far more than he had projected. But his passion and belief in the project kept him moving forward. “I’m climbing up on lead and way above my last piece of gear,” Cowles says. “If I’m wrong, I’ve had a very expensive gamble.” Cowles had to petition for variances, which would allow him to build within the setbacks, and he made it his mission to save three areas with large trees, all of which he was granted. But it’s evident from speaking with Cowles about the process that, although he is a master at keeping his cool and rolling with the punches, the effort was exhausting. And there’s only one solution to that.

vistas and mountainsides we have here in Western North Carolina. There are many forms of rock climbing; among the more popular are traditional climbing, bouldering, top roping, and lead roping. Traditional climbing, or ‘trad,’ involves the climber placing protection as he ascends. So although the gear protects against falls, it doesn’t aid the ascent. Bouldering involves climbing shorter, lower routes, typically without the use of safety ropes. Sometimes a bouldering pad is placed for climbers to drop on, and a spotter may stay below to move the pad into the best position. Top roping utilizes a system of pulleys and ropes to belay a climber from the ground below. An anchor is set at the top of the climb. Both the person working the belay and the climber start on the ground, then as the climber gains altitude, the belayer takes up slack. In the event of a fall, the secured rope protects the climber. Some factors that influence how far a climber may drop are the stretch of the rope, the weight imbalance between the climber and the belayer, and the length of the climbing route. Unlike top roping, lead roping involves anchors set below the climbers. As the lead climber ascends, the partner below feeds rope carefully to prevent too much slack. Once the climber above reaches an intermediate point, they may clip into preset bolts

There are many forms of rock climbing; among the more popular are traditional climbing, bouldering, top roping, and lead roping.

On The Edge Historically, the climbing gym began as a place to get in shape and hone skills in preparation for climbing actual rock faces. No matter how much fun the gym can offer, there’s no manmade replacement that compares with the incredible

March 2016 | 83

capital adventurist

cowles observes

a climber nearing the top of the wall


| March 2016

or use active cams (spring loaded mountaineering protection equipment that can be inserted into a crack of rock and expanded, providing a secure anchor). Because a climber travels above their secure anchor, lead climbing involves far more risks and requires more training. Ice climbing is a specialized form that can only occur when conditions allow for a hard freeze. In Western North Carolina most ice climbing is done on frozen waterfalls or water runoffs. Besides perfect weather conditions, ice climbing requires specialized equipment such as ice axes and crampons, which are worn over footwear to provide traction. Midweek, Cowles manages to sneak out around noon to go ice climbing. Regardless of the physical exertion, he returns refreshed with a renewed perspective on why he works so hard. “Yes, running these businesses is taxing, frustrating, and anxiety-provoking,” he admits, “but play has been a driving force in my 25-year tenure at doing this.” He is, in fact, already looking forward to his next big adventure, which is certain to be a climbing trip. But Cowles is not one of those CEOs who have special rules for themselves; he encourages his employees to travel and take personal time, too. The only caveat is that they return well rested and ready to work. With SMAC now officially opened, perhaps Cowles will finally have a chance to get away.

Partnerships Partnerships have been the building blocks upon which Cowles’ business model thrives. He has contracted with several different partners to rent space at SMAC. Among these are private teachers holding classes, small businesses such as Kolo Bikes and Asheville Adventure Rentals (who will be renting outdoor space), and businesses in which Cowles is also a partner in, such as the Asheville Hang Out (which, incidentally, will serve locally crafted beer). One of the partnerships crucial to SMAC getting off the ground was the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (BCTDA), which administers and oversees the Tourism Product Development Fund (TPDF). (Funded via a percentage of the Buncombe County occupancy tax, the TPDF has awarded, to date, $23 million in grants to 27 community projects; for more information about the TPDF, go to about-the-tpdf/.) The goal of the BCTDA is to increase overnight stays in Buncombe County, so they are looking for projects that demonstrate the ability to generate new and incremental room nights in the area. Cowles’ challenge was to demonstrate how an outdoor activity center could encourage tourists to stay overnight in Asheville. “One of the past recipients of the grant was the U.S. Cellular Center,” Cowles says. “Their reasoning was that people come to see concerts and stay overnight.” Cowles admits he worked hard on the grant application to get the wording right and the bases covered. Regardless, the first time he applied he was turned down.

UNC Asheville Family Business Forum PRESENTS:

HOW TO WIN AN ARGUMENT... OR NOT Mary Lynn Manns, UNC Asheville Professor of Management will share with you some ways to look at the act of arguing—and always gain something from the process. Most people don’t want to argue, but when it happens, be prepared with some useful ways to approach disagreements.

THUR SDAY, MARCH 24 12pm | UNC Asheville Sherrill Center, Mountain View Room RSVP required to or online at Free for members. Non-members $99. Lunch will be served. For more events in this speaker series, visit March 2016 | 85

capital adventurist

“It is not uncommon for people to apply multiple times for feedback,” says Brown, of the Convention & Visitors Bureau. But, she notes, there was something that distinguished Cowles from the pack. “Stuart demonstrated leadership in his respect for the systems we must work within. The process of discovery led to more expenses for him, but he always remained respectful.” Cowles’ second attempt at the TPDF grant was successful, and he received $100,000 in funding to help build the brick and mortar business.

A Flood Of Expenses

asked for an increase in funding. He was granted the time extension, but not the monetary increase. Still, the city agreed to a crosswalk with a flashing light for pedestrians to cross Amboy Road between SMAC and Carrier Park. “The TPDF liked the central location for all of these activities,” Cowles says. “With the activity center, the whole family can come and spend the day.”

The two locations appeal to different clientele, and whereas SMAC has more top ropes and lead roping, Climbmax offers a wider diversity of bouldering.

Cowles had chosen to meet the flood code by waterproofing the building above the 100-year flood plain, but exactly how to do it proved challenging. “We had to get the director of the building department to come down and take a look to figure out how to waterproof it,” Cowles recalls. In the end, a massive 700-pound door was created. In the event of a flood, it can be rolled out and fitted tightly over the single ground floor entrance. As the process dragged on, Cowles was forced to return to the BCTDA to request an extension, and at that time he also

“We want to increase overnight visitation to Buncombe County in a natural, authentic, and vibrant way,” Brown says. “Smoky Mountain Activity Center fit in with that vision.” Additionally, the city has plans to add two river access points, one across the park from SMAC.

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| March 2016

Reaching the Pinnacle SMAC will have stand up paddle boards, river tubes, and bicycles for rent outside. There is an outdoor climbing wall visible from the street and 23 parking spots in the gravel lot. As you step inside the bright and spacious building, there’s a coffee and smoothie bar. This connects to an expansive climbing and bouldering area that spans the height of the building. Upstairs is a separate room for yoga, Pilates, and cross-fit classes, as well as events, a weight lifting area, and the Asheville Hang Out. The bar and railings are all made from reclaimed wood cleared from the property. A side room at SMAC will house another one of Cowles’ retail businesses, Earth Sports Design. Since 1991 they have been producing backpacks and wilderness first-aid kits, which they sell to groups like Outward Bound and fire departments. Tables and chairs are set up on the outside deck overlooking Carrier Park. The atmosphere is relaxed and fun; the kind of place where you can work up a sweat and cool off afterwards. Finally, Cowles’ longtime dream has become a reality—and none too soon. As Brown explains, “Things have changed since Stuart applied. The TPDF no longer funds ‘for profit’

businesses. We are now focused on funding truly significant municipal and nonprofit projects.” Cowles, incidentally, plans to keep his downtown business. The two locations appeal to different clientele, and whereas SMAC has more top ropes and lead roping, Climbmax offers a wider diversity of bouldering. Memberships are available that allow access to both facilities. “Stuart started here and built on his success,” Brown says. “It couldn’t be more ideal.” Cowles agrees, saying, “In ten years I’d love to see SMAC operating successfully. At that point I can begin to move toward more income through rentals.” Smoky Park Adventure Center: 173 Amboy Rd, Asheville, North Carolina 28806 828-505-4446 | Climbmax: 43 Wall Street, Asheville, North Carolina 28801 828-252-9996 |

Asheville’s Only App Development Summer Camp Asheville’s Only App Development Summer Camp Asheville’s Only App Development Summer Camp

Asheville School is offering a unique app camp experience Asheville School is offering a unique app camp experience Asheville School is offering a unique app camp experience for students interested in learning how to make exciting for students interested in learning how make exciting for apps students interested in learning how to to make new for the iPad, and even Apple TV.exciting new apps foriPhone, the iPhone, iPad, and even Apple TV. new apps for the iPhone, iPad, and even Apple TV. Using Apple’s Swift programming language, students will Using Apple’s Swift programming language, students will Usingthe Apple’s Swift programming language,what students will spend week developing apps and learning it takes spend the week developing apps and learning what it takes thean week apps and learning what it takes tospend produce appdeveloping for the Apple App Store. to produce an app for the Apple App Store. to produce an app for the Apple App Store.

Visit to register today! Visit to register today! Visit 8:30 register today! Hours: am - 4:30 pm (breakfast/lunchtoprovided) Hours: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm (breakfast/lunch provided) Hours: When: July8:30 25 -am 29 - 4:30 pm (breakfast/lunch provided) When: July 25 - 29 When: 25$525 - 29 (includes T-shirt/textbook) Early BirdJuly Price: Early Bird Price: $525 (includes T-shirt/textbook) Early Bird Price: $525 T-shirt/textbook) Ages 13-18 (Must turn 13 (includes by 6-20-16) Ages 13-18 (Must turn 13 by 6-20-16) Ages 13-18 (Must turn 13 by 6-20-16) Skill Level: Beginner - Intermediate Skill Level: Beginner - Intermediate Skill Level: Intermediate Registration is Beginner limited to-20 students. Registration is limited to 20 students. Registration is limited to 20 students. • 828.254.6345 x4042 • Visit • March 2016 | 87 • 828.254.6345 x4042 • Visit • • 828.254.6345 x4042 • Visit •

People Play at









1. Anita Metcalf current President of Children’s Welfare League. 2. Bill and Debby Wolcott 3. L-R Dr. Robert Powell & Mrs. Meredith Powell


| March 2016

with Dr. Leon Elliston & Dr. Kathy Volatile 4. Bobby Sax making music. 5. Miss WNC Madison Tweed & the Auctioneer Matt Holiday.

6. Josephine Chromy bidding on a prize. 7. Greg Dixon viewing some auction items. 8. William and Barbara Lewin cutting into some delicious cake!

Children’s Welfare League Mardis Gras Ball 2016 at the Crowne Plaza Expo Center

February 13, 2016 | photos by Mardy & Bill Murphy









9. Amanda Johnson Bryant 10. Laura Herndon and Zachary Neill 11. L-R John Cort, Bruce Rogers, and Lelia Cort 12. Janice Southerland and Gail Mills

13. L-R Michael & Catty Andry with Susan & Brian Smith all dressed up. 14. Bryan and Krista Aycock in feathers!

15. Tom and Kay Beardsley finding the King Cake surprise! 16. Derek and Elizabeth Allen

March 2016 | 89


Until They Cry Wolf 7PM (Fri), 1 & 4PM (Sat), 1PM (Sun)


EVENTS march 2

8PM The Orange Peel 101 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville, NC It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since CeeLo dominated the airwaves with his hit “Forget You” and insightful lyrics like, “Ain’t that some ssh.” Now, this rightful multi-platinum name in pop is touring with his latest album and visiting Asheville.

march 2 - 5

Aesop’s Fables: Don’t Count Your Chickens

This is a musical tour of Aesop’s fables reportedly combining ancient wisdom and today’s wit. In light of the wisdom in the title, one can only wonder where this is going.

>Tickets: Adult $23, Child $12 > 914-830-3000 >

CeeLo Green

>Tickets: Advance $25, Door $30 > 828-398-1837 >

Magnetic 375 375 Depot Street, Asheville, NC

Student $37

> 336-667-6260 >

Southern Conference Basketball Tournament

The Buddy Holly Story 8-10PM Walker Center, Wilkes Community College 1328 South Collegiate Dr, Wilkesboro, NC Since its opening in 1989 in London’s West End, the most successful rock ’n’ roll musical has been viewed by millions of people in over 20,000 performances worldwide. The story is told of the teen idol’s meteoric rise to fame—how he challenged the system to reach people with his music, only to meet a sad end in that fatal crash, at 22 years of age. The

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> Admission: Adult $39, Senior/

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show will feature a number of Holly’s tunes, to which a generation fell in love, and which inspired several more to pick up the guitar, including “Peggy Sue” and “That’ll Be the Day.”

US Cellular Center 87 Haywood Street, Asheville, NC This year, General Shale is sponsoring this competition of men’s teams from ten schools and women’s teams from eight schools. SoCon is now in its 95th season of intercollegiate competition. The U.S. Cellular Center was upgraded a couple years ago expressly to accommodate the championships. The SoCon Wrestling Championships will take place concurrently at Kimmel Arena at UNCAsheville.

>Tickets: $7.50 and $17.50 > 877-FAN-ROOM >

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| March 2016

“Established 1992”

march 4

American String Quartet 8PM Unitarian Universalist Congregation Edwin Place & Charlotte Street, Asheville, NC The Asheville Chamber Music Series will present the American String Quartet, playing in its 40th season Haydn’s String Quartet in F minor, Op. 20, No. 5; Mozart’s String Quartet in D minor, K. 421; and Beethoven’s String Quartet in F major, Op. 59, No. 1.

>Tickets: $38 > 828-575-7427 > march 5

Imaginer! – Encore Performance 12PM Asheville Community Theatre 35 East Walnut Street, Asheville, NC Tim [T-Bone] Arem, author, actor, radio personality, spokesperson, visual arts performer, publisher, and producer will perform his mash-up of mime, magic, music, comedy, and circus arts. According

to an unnamed “parent in Asheville,” “Experiencing ‘Imaginer!’ was like seeing Cirque du Soleil meets Pee-Wee Herman.”

>Tickets: $5 > 828-254-1320 > march 5

Asleep At The Wheel 9PM Isis Music Hall 743 Haywood Road, Asheville, NC Nine-time Grammy Award winners Asleep at the Wheel were voted Best Country & Western Band by Rolling Stone. The band has opened for big names from Willie Nelson to Alice Cooper.

>Tickets: Advance $30, Door $35 > 828-575-2737 > march 8

Counterparts: Bassoon And Sax 7:30PM Broyhill Chapel, Mars Hill University, Mars Hill, NC

Sonic embodiments of romance and nature will be interpreted by Rosalind Buda on bassoon, Alan Theisen on sax, and Ivan Seng on piano. They will play works by a number of modern composers. Those unable to make the free show can attend a makeup day for $15 at Asheville First Presbyterian Church March 13 or ISIS Restaurant on March 20.

> Free > 828-254-7123 > march 10 -13 Big South Conference Women’s Championship Kimmel Arena, UNC-Asheville, Asheville, NC UNC-A will host this basketball championship for the sixth time, but this time it will be played in Kimmel Arena. Eleven colleges in North and South Carolina and Virginia make up the conference, which in its thirty-year history has held championships for a number of sports.

>Tickets: Adult $10, Senior $5, Child $2, All Rounds $45 > 828-251-6904 >

of Western North Carolina presents:

The 12th Annual Business Ethics Luncheon

“Ethics in Justice”

JA - Empowering youth to own their economic success!

With keynote Federal Prosecutor Jill Westmoreland Rose

Tuesday April 12th 11:30 – 1:00 | Crowne Plaza Resort, Asheville

Reserve your table today! Call (828) 252-5842 or visit March 2016 | 91



march 10

10AM Coffee 10:30AM Start


Trinity Episcopal Church 60 Church Street, Asheville, NC


Diana Wortham Theatre 2 South Pack Square, Asheville, NC


828.274.1276 • Sunday - Saturday 11 - 5 4 All Souls Crescent, Biltmore Village

If you love Celtic music, you’ll love the skillful voice of vocalist and cofounder Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh. Although the other cofounder, Frankie Kennedy, has moved on to greener pastures, the nimble-fingered backup instrumentalists hold their own with the traditional jigs. The band is the first traditional group ever signed to a major label, and since 1996 they have sold millions of records. They’re in fact good enough to have collaborated with industry greats like Dolly Parton, Enya, Bonnie Raitt, and Alison Krauss.

>Tickets: Adult $32, Student $27, Child $20, Student Rush $10

> 828-257-4530 > march 11-13 & 18 - 20 James And The Giant Peach 2PM (Sat & Sun) & 7PM (Fri & Sat)

Feather Your Nest


Specializing in upscale one-of-a-kind furnishings, housewares, home decorative items and vintage & fine jewelry.

New items arriving daily!

Come see for yourself! Tuesday through Saturday | 10am to 4pm 1215A Greenville Hwy. Hendersonville, NC

828.693.3535 Accepting Quality Consignments


| March 2016

Flat Rock Playhouse – Downtown 125 South Main St., Hendersonville, NC When mean-spirited aunts get you down, wouldn’t you love to have a big, fat peach take you away and teach you lessons in friendship and love? Well, you can at least see what it would be like in this dramatization of the beloved children’s book that once graced the shelves of elementary school libraries.

>Tickets: $10-18 > 828-693-0731 > march 11

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park: A Discussion

The National Parks Service, “America’s Best Idea,” celebrates 100 years in 2016. Dana Soehn, spokesperson for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, will speak on the past, present, and future vision for the Smokies. The panel, including Friends of the Smokies Board members Laura Webb, Chase Pickering, and Stephen Woody, will each share their story and discuss questions from the audience.

> Free march 11-13 , 18 - 20 , Next To Normal

25 - 27

2:30 or 7:30PM 35 Below 35 East Walnut Street, Asheville, NC Rather than enjoying the arts to escape the craziness of the day, Next to Normal affords an opportunity to explore in depth, through a rock musical, the skeletons in a middle-class closet. A mother, deteriorating with manic depression, finds the established routes to wellness aren’t working, and her problems demand more destruction than can fit into a single life. The musical is the recipient of three Tony Awards and one Pulitzer Prize.

> Admission: $20 > 828-254-1320 > march 12 -13

Organic Growers School Annual Spring Conference 9AM-5:30PM UNC-Asheville Highsmith Union Building, 1 University Heights, Asheville, NC Since 1994, the Organic Growers School has been starting the growing season

with a conference. Now, more than 70 sessions are offered a day on topics like permaculture, homesteading, urban farming, sustainable forestry, primitive skills, cooking, mushrooms, and more. For extra fees, organic enthusiasts may attend one of three pre-conference workshops, running from 9:30AM to 4:30PM on March 11.

> Admission: Saturday $50, Sunday $45 > 828-680-0661 > march 13

Mr. Sun

7:30PM Jones House Community Center 604 West King Street, Boone, NC The sound is “American String Band;” the players, virtuoso. Fiddler Darol Anger, was a pioneer in fusing bluegrass, jazz, and classical. Award-winning Joe K. Walsh is one of the foremost contemporary mandolin players. Grant Gordy stands out in the crowded field of acoustic guitarists for emotional and kaleidoscopic alchemy. Bassist Ethan Jodziewicz, just out of school, represents the third generation in the group, and he’s expected to be just as spectacular. Reservations are recommended.

> Admission: $20 > 828-268-6280 >

As a small, locally-owned, financial planning and investment management company, we know, firsthand, the challenges of running a small business. We understand that your day-to-day focus is on making your business thrive, so your own personal financial plan may not get the attention it needs. We can help. Together, we will create a customized financial plan aligned with your unique goals. We can answer your questions about the best retirement savings options for you and your employees, including sustainable and responsible investing options.

So, if you’d like to work with another small, local business that is deeply invested in our great community, call us for a free, no obligation initial consultation. 440 Montford Avenue, Asheville NC, 28801 | 828-285-8777 | 877-285-7537 | Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Member FINRA/SIPC.

Mountain Paint & Decorating, Inc.

Charlotte Street 180 Charlotte Street Asheville, NC 28801 828.785.1940

Sweeten Creek

march 13

Hendersonville Chamber Music–Piano Trios 3-6PM First Congregational Church 1735 Fifth Avenue West, Hendersonville, NC Two piano trios will grace the stage on consecutive Sundays. The Chante Piano Trio will play on the 13th, and the Ivory Piano Trio will do the same on the 20th. Both are local classical groups.

76 Sweeten Creek Rd. Asheville, NC 28803 828.258.5385

West Main Street 120 West Main Street Brevard, NC 28712 828.884.2285

March 2016 | 93


> Admission: Adult $20, Student Free > 828-808-2314 > march 17

Mica Mining In Western North Carolina With Alice Wright 11AM-12:15PM Blowing Rock Art & History Museum 159 Chestnut Street, Blowing Rock, NC

how do you lea f?

What’s not to love about mica? It’s shiny, transparent, and flaky. Around the turn of the last century, its mining was a real job creator in the Blue Ridge Mountains. But those miners were the latecomers, according to archaeologist Alice Wright. She presents evidence for mica mining in Western North Carolina and intracontinental trade by Native Americans 2000 years ago.

> Suggested Donation: $5 > 828-295-9099 > march 17

Southern Soul And Rock And Roll: A Sampler From Muscle Shoals 7PM The Grey Eagle 185 Clingman Avenue, Asheville, NC Local musicians will gather to celebrate the history of Muscle Shoals in song. The sleepy Alabama town was an unlikely place to seed a recording studio, but it was influential in shaping greats like Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, Bob Seger, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Bob Dylan. 50% of proceeds will benefit the Asheville City Schools Foundation.

family fun for all ages! KIDS 10 AND UNDER - FREE 94

| March 2016

>Tickets: Adult $8, Child Free > 828-232-5800 >

march 17-19

St. Pat’s 1926 Irish Wake for Dr. EW Grove 5:45PM (Thu-Sat) & 8:15PM (Thu & Fri) Lex 18 Supper Club 18 North Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC Lex 18 is a dinner theatre decked out in Prohibition Era array. Guests are asked to dress in period attire for elite meals surrounded by actors who play out one drama or another. This evening’s production takes great artistic license in celebrating the life of the illustrious EW Grove. A wake is held for the entrepreneur, presumed dead, and the Irish toasts get weirder and weirder.

> Dinner: Thursday $50, Friday or Saturday $55 > 828-575-9494 >

march 18 -19

Bullmania 7-8PM

Western North Carolina Agricultural Center

1301 Fanning Bridge Road, Fletcher, NC

A great event if you enjoy watching ranchers get thrown off bucking and raging bulls. Reportedly, the stands themselves will shake like the worst case of airplane turbulence.

> Admission: $5 > 828-687-1414 > march 19

Second Annual Get In Gear Fest 11AM-5PM Riverlink Plaza River Arts District, Asheville, NC Last year’s inaugural event drew over 1000 attendees. This year will continue the tradition by showing off what’s newly

manufactured in 2016 by almost thirty outdoor gear manufacturers based in Western North Carolina. Events will include family-friendly races, a gear auction and raffle, music, and beer. All proceeds go to charity. An invitation-only Meet the Makers event will be held the evening before, so if you didn’t get your invitation—oh, well.

> Free > 828-883-4292 > march 19

A Classic Collaboration 7:30-9PM Blue Ridge Community College 180 Campus Drive, Flat Rock, NC Under the direction of Lawrence Doebler, the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra will collaborate with the Carolina Concert Choir to present Handel’s Zadok the Priest, Water Music, and highlights from Messiah, as well as Hayden’s Symphony No. 99 in E-flat major.

For the 42nd LEAF Festival, to LEAF igniteFestival, your Forprepare the 42nd imagination immerse prepare and to ignite youryour soul sites, sounds, For theinto 42ndthe LEAF Festival, imagination and immerse your sensations spiceyour of Cuba. prepare to soul into and theignite sites, sounds, imagination sensations and and immerse spice of your Cuba. soul into the sites, sounds, Lakeside activities. camping. ziplines. sensations andpoetry spice of Cuba. local brews. slams. arts. Lakeside activities. camping. ziplines.

music. local eats.slams. contra.arts. local brews. poetry yoga. handcraft music. local eats.vendors. contra. Lakesidehealing activities. camping. ziplines. arts workshops. yoga. handcraft vendors. local brews. poetry nature slams. arts. meditation. healing arts workshops. music. local eats. contra. education....and more! meditation. nature yoga. handcraft vendors. education....and more! healing arts workshops. meditation. nature education....and more!

>Tickets: $35 > 828-697-5884 > march 20

Mini Matinee: A Baroque Adventure 2-3PM Blowing Rock Art & History Museum 159 Chestnut Street, Blowing Rock, NC Relish the harmonious arpeggios of Vivaldi, the mad fugues of Bach, and the music of less-known Jean-Baptiste Lully. This is not your ordinary concert attended with folded hands and pursed lips. The audience is encouraged to get up and dance—but they must limit themselves to the moves of the 1600s. Skilled performers from the 18th Century Music Program at Appalachian State University will be on-hand to help those who don’t

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March 2016 | 95




Instructor is N.C. State Champion with 27 years of experience

know what that means. This is fun for the whole family; particularly, for kids who want to see Dad get up and dance.

> Admission: Family $10, Individual $8 > 828-295-9099 > march 21


Talent Jam, Asheville


6-9 PM ISIS Restaurant & Music Hall 743 Haywood Road, Asheville, NC


25 Years


828-274-0028 ONTARGETNC.COM

En route is another edition of Talent Jam, Asheville (TJA), a business-focused mash-up of “speed dating, job fair, and a networking event.” It’s a modern take on the classic job fair, where both companies and workers present one-minute pitches of their needs or talents. Networking, fueled by victuals and libation, then ensues. Fun Fact: Capital at Play’s own Oby Morgan will emcee the evening. TJA is open to any business or worker looking to connect. A one-minute pitch to the audience costs $25, with proceeds benefitting two local charities. Pitch opportunities are limited; registration for pitches ends March 18.

> 828-575-2737 > march 23

Harlem Globetrotters 7PM US Cellular Center 87 Haywood Street, Asheville, NC Meadowlark Lemon, lauded for his induction into both the Basketball and International Clown halls of fame, may be gone—but the Harlem Globetrotters continue in their 90th year of trick basketball, full of stunts and colorful surprises to thrill audiences and fill their hearts with joy.

> 800-745-3000 > 96

| March 2016

march 26 - 27 Melt Down Games

>10AM-6PM > Appalachian Ski Mountain, Inc. 940 Ski Mountain Road Blowing Rock, NC

2015-2016 snow season, we hardly knew ye! Now, it’s time to say bye-bye to Mr. Snow with a bunch of crazy events you’ll have to wait another year to enjoy. Oodles of prizes in “tons” of categories will be offered for extreme sports mixing snow and water. Details are not yet disclosed, but all the photos online show competitors leaning at 45-degree angles. Registration fees are included with the purchase of ski tickets.

> 828-295-7828 > march 31

Rhythmic Circus 8-10PM Diana Wortham Theatre 2 South Pack Square, Asheville, NC This is where tap dance meets cool. It’s tap with jumping, sliding, dreadlocks, hip-hop, and a jazz band. They are joined by Heatbox the human beatbox. Is it any wonder they won the 2012 Edinburgh Festival’s Spirit of the Fringe Award?

>Tickets: Adult $42, Student $37, Child $20, Student Rush $10 > 828-257-4530 >

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 Please submit your event by the first day of the month preceding your event.

March 2016 | 97


ASHEVILLE: Historic Biltmore Village 9 Kitchin Place 828-274-2630 STORE HOURS: Mon.-Fri. 9:30am-7pm Sat. 9:30am-6pm Sun. 12pm-5pm


| March 2016

The BMW X1


With 228 horsepower and a 0–60 time of just 6.3 seconds, it commands the road better than any vehicle in its class. And with 41.9 inches of headroom and up to 58.7 cubic feet of cargo space, it’s also the most spacious. The Sports Activity Vehicle® built for those who never settle for less than the best: the BMW X1.

Special lease and finance offers will be available through BMW Financial Services.

BMW of Asheville | 649 New Airport Road | Fletcher, NC 28732 | 828-681-9900 |

Experience the Difference. Best-in-class mentions based on BMW X1 xDrive28i versus Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 4MATIC and Audi Q3 2.0T quattro. ©2016 BMW of North America, LLC. The BMW name, model names and logo are registered trademarks.

March 2016 | 99


| March 2016

Capital at Play March 2016  

Vol 6 | Ed 3 - Western North Carolina's Business Lifestyle Magazine - Featuring Riverbend Malt House

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