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Aaron Thomas & Nate Ray Nine Mile Restaurant p.14

Hashim & Farouk Badr

Asheville Discount Pharmacy & Jerusalem Garden p.74

Western North Carolina's Free Spirit of Enterprise


Two Bits p.26

Business Succession Planning 101 p.70

l o c a l i n d u s t ry



Volume X - Edition II complimentary edition


February 2020


| February 2020

February 2020 | capitalatplay.com


Editor’s Thoughts


raditionally, January is a time for resolutions and reflections, and since I’m writing this in January, I’m technically in reflection mode, having already broken all three of my 2020 resolutions (read atleast one book per week, avoid cable news after 6PM, stop buying so many vinyl records online). I’m obviously proud of the February issue you are reading, as it kind of represents a “classic” take on what Capital at Play is all about, from the entrepreneurial profiles of the amazing folks behind Nine Mile, Jerusalem Garden, and Asheville Discount Pharmacy; to the Leisure & Libation story about where locals can go in Western North Carolina to get all types of dance lessons and engage in group dances; to our annual status report on the region’s real estate industry, a report which, year after year, has proven to be one of our most popular recurring features (lots of graphs/charts junkies out there, apparently). The content in our magazine doesn’t happen in a vacuum, however. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and bet that our masthead page is not the first one you flip to whenever the latest issue of the magazine arrives. But that masthead is a literal roll call of what makes this vehicle hum, and since I’m in a reflective mood, allow me to elaborate, if somewhat light-heartedly, upon how the sausage gets made around here. It starts with the contributing writers and photographers. (Okay, technically, it starts with me, since they are all sitting on their hands each month until I let them know what I need them to cover for us. But I digress…) Shutterbugs Anthony Harden, whose tenure here predates mine, and Evan Anderson, a more recent arrival, grab the bulk of the visuals which have helped cement our reputation as a quality publication; both of them go above and beyond each month, period, and—they have even sneaked both me and my teenage son into the magazine a few times. And as a magazine lives and dies by the content (i.e., the stuff you read) it creates, I feel immensely blessed to have some of the most professional writers I have ever had the pleasure to work with in four decades’ worth of journalism. Some of them I inherited when I came on board as editor in late 2015; others subsequently reached out to me, and my instincts told me to take their pitches. But every current contributor to the magazine can count him- or herself as being among Western North Carolina’s finest: Jennifer Fitzgerald, Shawndra Russell, Bill “Musoscribe” Kopp, Jim Murphy, Jason Gilmer, Derek “High Country” Halsey, Marla Hardee Milling, Arthur Treff, Chall Gray, Bill Fishburne, Emily Glaser (who tirelessly pulls double duty as our weekly e-newsletter editor)… not to mention our many guest—and recurring—columnists who help lend the magazine a genuine voice of authority within the regional business community. Readers see the bylines that accompany the articles, but they don’t always take note of the folks behind the scenes. Publisher Oby Morgan, of course, put this whole shebang into motion a decade ago, and associate publisher Jeffrey Green is an invaluable fount of institutional knowledge, while art director Bonnie Roberson literally makes us all look good. Meanwhile, our proofreading/copy editors (Brenda Murphy, Dasha Morgan) maintain a close watch on what finds its way into the finished product in order to keep us honest. And our marketing gurus (Roy Brock, David Morgan, Katrina Morgan) are the ones who bake the advertising cake in order for us, not to put too fine a point on it, to stay in business. All those name-checked above are the ones who actually make Capital at Play so good. So as this new decade is still young and unfolding, consider this my thank-you to them for making me look good, too.

Sincerely, 4

Fred Mills

| February 2020



Comprehensive resources for your home and work in Western North Carolina


Faces of Enterprise & Faces of Medicine a showcase of local businesses, leaders, professionals, and creatives

Asheville and Western North Carolina are enjoying remarkable economic growth. There are numerous reasons for our region’s current success, and local entrepreneurs and business professionals are chief among them.

Look for The Annual at locations across Western North Carolina For more information on this or next year’s publication, please contact us at 828.274.7305 or at advertising@capitalatplay.com

February 2020 | capitalatplay.com




Western North Carolina's Free Spirit of Enterprise


Oby Morgan associate publisher

Jeffrey Green managing editor

Fred Mills briefs and events editor

Leslee Kulba copy editors

contributing writers & photogr aphers

Evan Anderson, Holiday Childress, Bill Fishburne, Emily Glaser, Anthony Harden, Michael Palermo, Shawndra Russell art director

Bonnie Roberson newsletter editor

Emily Glaser

Dasha O. Morgan, Brenda Murphy

Information & Inquiries LifeTutors.com



Capital at Play is Western North Carolina’s business lifestyle magazine. It embodies the idea that capitalism thrives with creativity—that work requires an element of play. Exploring everything from local industry to the great outdoors, Capital at Play is inspiration for the modern entrepreneur. In every edition we profile those who take the risk, those who share that risk, and those who support them—telling the untold story of how capitalists are driven by their ideas and passions.

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We cater to those who see the world with curiosity, wonderment, and a thirst for knowledge. We present information and entertainment that capitalists want, all in one location. We are the free spirit of enterprise.

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Editorial content is selected and produced because of its interest to our readership. Editorial content is not for sale and cannot be bought. Capital at Play is financially sustained by advertisers who find value in exposure alongside our unique content and to the readers who follow it. This magazine is printed with soy based ink on recycled paper. Please recycle. Copyright © 2020, Capital At Play, Inc. All rights reserved. Capital at Play is a trademark of Capital At Play, Inc. Published by Capital At Play, Inc. PO Box 5552, Asheville NC 28813

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

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Capital at Play has partnered with Bclip Productions to bring the pages of each edition to life, just for you. Featured at Capitalatplay.com and our Facebook page, we give you exclusive interviews and insider info on the people, places, and faces of Capital at Play has partnered with Bclip Productions to bring the pages of each edition to life, just for you. Featuring a new enterprise throughout Western North Carolina. Visit us on social media or at our website to see the latest 60 Seconds at Play.

second video every two weeks, we give you exclusive interviews and insider info on the people, places, and faces of enterp throughout Western North Carolina. Visit us on social media or at capitalatplay.com to see the latest 60 Seconds at Play NOVEMBER VIDEO




MARKETING AND TRAINING VIDEOS FOR BUSINESS At Bclip we do more than tell your story. Our business-first mentality and combustible creativity set us apart from other video production companies. It’s our mission to help our customers sell their products, train their staff, and entertainINcustomers with video. We strive to eat, sleep,P and think like the FOX HUNTING WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA wonderful companies we work with. photo by DonWestPhotos.com at Tryon Hounds

( .76)


| February 2020

At Bclip we do more than tell your story. Our business-first mentality and c creativity set us apart from other video production companies. It’s our mis help our customers sell their products, train their staff, and entertain custo video. We strive to eat, sleep, and think like the wonderful companies we w

thi s page :

L AMB SHANK meal at Jerusalem Garden Café in Asheville. photo by Anthony Harden

w 60 prise y.

combustible ssion to omers with work with.

F E AT U R E D vol. x




ed. ii




February 2020 | capitalatplay.com


C ON T E N T S f e b r ua ry 2020

DANCING AT Hickory Nut Gap Farm, photo by Brenden Almand Photography/theProPortrait.com


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

Real Estate & A Good Craft Beer

56 Dance, Dance, Dance

Capital at Play’s Real Estate in Western North Carolina Year in Review

insight Evan McIntosh of GoliathTech WNC

26 Two Bits

Written by Holiday Childress

Written by Michael Palermo

28 Carolina in the West 50 The Old North State 10

Asheville Skyline - photo cour tesy Envato Elements By SeanPavonePhoto | February 2020

p e o p l e at p l ay

8 8 Mountain BizWorks 30th Anniversary Celebration

70 Business Succession Planning 101


on the cover :

Taking Dance Lessons in Western North Carolina

colu m ns

12 Rise Up

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


90 Who’s taking part in that

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February 2020 | capitalatplay.com



Rise Up Evan McIntosh is bringing crucial innovation to the building community with GoliathTech WNC.


apital at Play aims to shine the spotlight for our readership upon Western North Carolina businesspersons who excel in their specialty fields, create fresh entrepreneurial niches for themselves and their peers, or simply possess a unique vision that has the potential to enhance and expand the myriad nuances of the regional economy. Burnsville native (and current Asheville resident) Evan McIntosh checks all those boxes. As part of the larger builder/construction community, his vision of making the overall building process safer, more streamlined, and more environmentally responsible via the deployment of helical screw piles—more on that in a minute—is one of innovation. And given the building boom, from commercial to residential, that our area continues to experience, it is safe to say that what his business, GoliathTech WNC, currently brings to the table can be crucial for many of his peers in the sector, as he clearly knows this region and the challenges and issues that builders here face. According to McIntosh, his endeavor is also borne out of a deep love for Western North Carolina: “I grew up in Burnsville and came to Asheville regularly with the family when [I was] a kid. Living away for several years while in school and for my first job out of college, I always knew I wanted to get back to the Western North Carolina mountains and reside here in Asheville. This area captures the heart and soul. Not to mention it is wonderful being close to my parents, still in Burnsville, my brother and his family in Haw Creek, and many old and new friends.” He adds that his involvement in several construction-related businesses in the past such as HVAC, building supply, and even “dabbling in some building” led him to his interest in helical screw piles and what they offer. To wit ( from the GoliathTech website): “Resembling a large screw, screw piles are installed deep into the ground, beneath the ground freezing level, to solidly support the structure of your project. This is an advantageous alternative to form tubes and is less expensive than concrete foundations: no damage to landscape or structures; perfectly leveled structure; ideal for restricted spaces; possible [to install] no matter the season; removable/reusable system.” Explains McIntosh, “Helical screw piles have been around for over 100 years. However, advancements in the product and processes of helical screw piles in more recent years has allowed them to suit a much wider breadth of applications and be fast and simple to install. My wife and I started the company in January of 2019 because we wanted to bring something innovative to the building community that we feel can reshape and improve a crucial 12

| February 2020


photos by Rachael McIntosh Photography

component of the construction process. Knowing some of the challenges residential and commercial builders face in this area with labor shortages, settling structures, poor soil, staying on schedule, and weather delays, we are a solution to help projects be completed immensely faster, stronger, and better.” He’s also quick to point out that GoliathTech WNC isn’t interested in just tossing around terms like “environmentally

“We continue to grow and learn every day and push to be better.” friendly” or “sustainability” as greenwash-type buzzwords. He is genuinely sincere about walking it like he talks it, saying, “One of the things that excites us most about our system is that it reduces concrete in construction or eliminates it, while also reducing site disruption. With [the concrete industry] being one of the world’s largest polluters, and its sourcing, production, and application consuming an enormous amount of resources, we are passionate about offering an alternative solution. Furthermore, we can reduce or potentially eliminate excavation on a site and put piles in the ground very close to trees and other vegetation, instead of removing them. After we install a pile, the only thing that can be seen is a pipe coming out of the ground to which we attach one of a few hundred different pile head choices. It really is something neat to see

take form. In addition, regarding sustainability, the majority of our steel is recycled and all of it originates from North America. That helps to lower our carbon footprint significantly.” Bringing a unique business vision to the public inevitably involves fostering education and awareness of a product and/ or process. McIntosh is adamant that once people learn the full details about what his company does and give them a try, they “almost always become believers. We absolutely love working with the folks in and around this area, and it has been very encouraging receiving some of the help and opportunities we have. Builders, engineers, and architects collaborating and partnering with us to create the living and working spaces for this community is a feeling that definitely puts smiles on our faces! “For 2020 we are focused on getting more of the building community familiar with who we are and then allowing us a chance to prove why we are a viable and smart solution for their project. We have five employees now, including part-time help, and hope to employ over 15-20 within the next three years. In particular, Chris Terry joined the team full-time in April and brought with him an awesome spirit, attitude, and wealth of construction experience—he has been along for the ride as we have completed our first jobs and ran towards the challenges of being a new business. “We continue to grow and learn every day and push to be better with every move we are making, so that we can be a positive force in this community.” To learn more about GoliathTech WNC visit their website at www.goliathtechpiles.com February 2020 | capitalatplay.com


Acclaimed Asheville Nine Mile restaurant continues to expand, most recently opening a third location in South Asheville.

To The

Nines written by shawndr a russell


| February 2020


photos by evan anderson

February 2020 | capitalatplay.com




WHEN YOU are as busy as the chefs at Nine Mile, you are manning multiple pans at once.


| February 2020

the hard-hustling co-owner of Asheville’s Nine Mile, there’s an instant likability that defines the Nine Mile culture and keeps employee turnover low in an industry that typically sees at least a 61% turnover rate (even higher for front-line workers). Now with three locations—the original in Montford, which doubled its footprint in 2017 when the owners acquired the next door space formerly occupied by Harmony Interiors; the West Asheville location, in the central section of Haywood Road, which opened in 2013; and the newest in South Asheville in Biltmore Park Town Square that opened in the spring of 2019—Thomas takes it all in stride even as they embark on two new ventures: a line of sauces, and the Nine Mile brewery, both slated to be up and running in 2020. With so much going on, you might think Thomas would be showing signs of stress, but he continues to just “roll with it all… My mom asked me recently, ‘When are you gonna stop?’, and I said, ‘If opportunity comes and I have the energy, I am going to give it a shot. We take what the universe gives us.’” He and his business partner, Nate Ray, whom Thomas met in Colorado and then happened to end up in Asheville shortly after Ray made the move here, continue to run the show, stepping in most days wherever they’re most needed and still rolling up their sleeves in the kitchen to fill in that day’s gaps. “There’s no formula really,” he continues. “We just do what needs to be done. We’ll wash dishes, we’ll plunge toilets, dust ceiling fans, clean the dirtiest, nastiest corner, grease, whatever. We cover shifts: ‘I will work for you Thursday night, no problem’ approach. We do whatever it takes.” They’ve opted not to hire a GM in their 11 years in business, even with the three locations, and prefer to keep their fingers on the pulse of what’s going on with the business day-to-day and trust their senior employees as managers. “I’ve always been the kind of guy where I don’t want to talk bad about positions, but I have never understood the guy with the clipboard and tie who never cooked, doesn’t do any dishes,” Thomas explains, adding, “We say, ‘We’re all in this together.’ If I have to step into the battlefield, I’m not wearing my fancy shoes. We’ll battle with our people. The ones that are most responsible get a key, anything they need. Eventually, we might have to hire a regional manager, who has worked here and come up through the ranks.” In some ways, their story has been a dream, with everything seemingly falling into place every step of the way, but it really boils down to Thomas and Ray having built a positive company culture and trusted

NINE MILE'S ORIGINAL location in Montford.

brand that keeps all three restaurants busy regularly. Now, with around 100 employees, Thomas recalls the early doubters when he told people he was opening a Caribbean-inspired pasta joint in the Montford neighborhood. “There was a lot of chatter in town: ‘They’ll never make it, who’s going to eat Caribbean pasta…’, chefs making bets on how long we would last. People were saying, ‘You’re in Montford, you gotta do sandwiches and fries,’ and we just said to the doubters, ‘Come see us when we open,’” he says.  

Red Lobster Beginnings Thomas’ confidence came from years of cutting his teeth at Red Lobsters, Little Caesars, Hardees, and a corporate steakhouse, but he credits four gigs in particular for getting him to where he is today: “My first job was cleaning kennels. They would have me clean up all the poop out of all 50 kennels and 2/3 of the animals were not house trained—literally, shit everywhere—scoop it all up, clean them all out, then come back through and clean again. I can still smell it!” he says,

laughing. But it was his job at Rasta Pasta in Colorado, where Thomas moved after graduating from Penn State, that inspired the menu and flavors found at Nine Mile today. “The owner and I were supposed to do some restaurants together—that’s a whole other story—so I moved to Asheville thinking we were going to do something. After a while, I thought, ‘Nah, forget about it.’ Nine Mile is modeled after that restaurant; our flow and kitchen setup are similar to the Rasta Pasta setup. The whole idea came from it.” His love of reggae music and an inspiring trip to Jamaica during his junior year of college piqued his interest to experiment with Caribbean cuisine after growing up “eating standard American food—my mom taught me all that—then after moving here, I went to the Asheville library and checked out every book on pasta Caribbean flavors. I would tinker around the kitchen and had my test eaters that would say yay or nay.” But it’s his job working as a line cook at a locally owned waffle shop during college that he credits for preparing him for anything the restaurant business can throw his way. “That place was crazy. I’d go in at 5AM after falling asleep at 3AM. It February 2020 | capitalatplay.com



was always so busy, line out the door, one-half a block long, all day, every day. You worked until 5AM to 3-4PM. I’m surprised I made it through that,” he says, grinning. A gig cooking for a dude ranch in Colorado was also influential. “Those owners were pretty crazy. I would just cook six days a week, stayed for free, no bills, had about 80 seats in it. There was a neighborhood behind it, and those people had nowhere else to go.” He proudly shares that most cooks only lasted for three months: “But I made it eight.” That grit came in handy at his arguably most important restaurant experience at the former Lucky Otter in West Asheville, located just a stone’s throw from Nine Mile’s West Asheville location. He started out making just $5.50 an hour and within a year was running the place. It’s here that Thomas met whom he credits for making Nine Mile possible, Roland Knoll, who passed away in 2016 after battling cerebellar ataxia. Knoll had asked Thomas if he wanted to start a restaurant early on after a buddy had raved about the food at Rasta Pasta, but it wasn’t until Thomas and Ray had already decided to try and do it on their own—after being denied loans by three banks—that Knoll approached him again about finally opening a place. “He did his thing, got us the loan, and helped us buy the Montford 18

| February 2020

building. We had an equal partnership; Roland had knowledge of restaurants with two successful places, Nate was a nice guy who had a good work ethic, and I had the idea.”

The Right Team Knoll also convinced Thomas to buy a house in 2004, which became instrumental for pulling out capital after they purchased the building; the partners quickly ran into all kinds of hiccups after the building had sat empty for one-and-a-half years and the owner had turned down their original offer, only to come back a couple of months later and accept it. “We thought it was going to be easy,” reflects Thomas, “but there were broken pies, leaks, no water barrier paper… There was a little bulge in the floor, so we had to replace the whole thing!” Knoll also convinced Thomas and Ray to keep going when they hit a rough streak in 2008 after Hurricane Gustav hit and forced Asheville to close its gas pipelines. “The Montford Music Festival happened three days after we opened, and customers had no idea how bad the kitchen was, but people liked it and came back. Then, the economy crashed, and the phones stopped ringing. Then, the gas was turned off,


and we only did $300 in business one day, so we had a powwow and talked about closing, but Roland said, ‘Keep going,’ and every year since has been nonstop growth. He was a role model for us—whatever Roland said, goes. He was a big personality.” Thomas says Roland’s legacy certainly lives on through Nine Mile’s continued success, and he gives big props to his family, too, as both his sisters and his mom work with him. His wife, June Thomas, is a graphic designer for national brands who designed Nine Mile’s original menu about five years before Nine Mile even opened; she serves as Aaron’s first sounding board. (“She’s the saver. Without her, I wouldn’t have had the capital.”) They share a brightly painted Montford home next to Nine Mile as their offices, and she’s the reason Thomas went for opening location number three. “We were down at Biltmore Park on a movie date, and I see the burger place, BT Burgers, was closed, and I turn to June and say, ‘What do you think about Nine Mile down here?’ ‘That would kill it,’ she said.” Then, as Thomas puts it, it was as simple as having the lease manager come over to eat at Nine Mile: “He said, ‘It was packed, and we loved it, and we’d love to have you.’” June and Aaron initially started off as just friends, as June was living with her then-boyfriend along with Nate and Nate’s February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 19

partner. “I saw this little dreaded girl come down the steps,” says Aaron, “and asked Nate about her, but they didn’t break up for a few years.” Soon after Aaron and June had started dating years later, Knoll pushed Aaron to buy that house, so he asked her to move in, and she quickly started urging him to finally open the restaurant he’d been talking about. “‘You’re doing it’,” he recalls her saying, soon after they moved in together. Today, they have two sons, ages nine and four, who Thomas says have “diverse palates” and like to cook. “If they were to pursue this,” he explains, “they could, but I just want them to be happy and be nice to people—whatever they do, that’s all I care about. I’m also trying to teach them how success takes hard work, sacrifice, and dedication.”


| February 2020

A strict no-drama policy has also been crucial to their success, and that has encouraged employees to stay on and work their way up through the Nine Mile ranks. Explains Thomas, “I think Nate and [my] persona and energy have attracted like-minded people. I have worked in a lot of kitchens with lots of drama, yelling, wars, disrespect between front and back houses… If we ever sense that, we squash it immediately. If you want to be a part of this, you need to straighten up or get fired.” He also shares a favorite phrase one of his first employees shared with him: “‘You know what they say about restaurant workers: They’re one step away from carnies!’ Good people. I love them.” Thomas will, however, readily admit that sometimes, running the business side of things can be trying. “My whole thing is,

“We’ll get a new employee from somewhere, and they’ll bring over friends from their old restaurants because they like working here.”

I am a kitchen person. I love the high pace, I love making beautiful food, but I have a hard time managing people. I’m such a nice guy and don’t want to tell them what they are doing wrong. That’s the hardest part for me—being the bad guy. We’re too nice, but it’s what makes us successful, too. We’ve often heard, ‘I don’t want to leave you guys,’ when employees move on.” The nice-guys reputation has certainly worked in their favor with the opening and staffing of their latest location. “In the beginning, no one ever left, but with so many restaurants—and they’re all so good—it’s hard. But I think with [Nine Mile South] opening up and winning awards for most popular restaurant, people are coming over to us. And then we’ll get a new employee from somewhere, and they’ll bring over friends from their old restaurants because they like working here.”

February 2020 | capitalatplay.com



| February 2020

NINE MILE'S NEWEST location in Biltmore Park.

Building a Brand Nine Mile started off with just eight dishes, but today, the menu features more than 30 items consisting of chicken, seafood, and vegetarian dishes—no ‘hooves or grooves,’ aka pork or beef. It’s a concept that stems from the Rastafarian culture that has influenced Thomas so much. They source ingredients from local outlets like Smiling Hera Tempeh, and they tell Mountain Foods to give them as much local product as possible. Thomas has also noticed the trend of Sysco getting more local goods, too. “We also use a local salmon fisherwomen who [sources her catch] in Bristol Bay, Alaska. We probably don’t do as much as others, but we do our best, with how involved Nate and I are in the day-to-day operations.” He adds, with a laugh, that he had tried to pare down the menu a bit over the years, but every time he tries to take a dish off that menu, staff and fans shut him down. He has also given his chefs some leeway with the daily specials, especially at the new South location. “The new chefs are really gung-ho; they’ve been trying a lot of new stuff. They did grilled octopus recently, and I don’t even know how to cook that! I say, as long as it looks good and tastes nice, go for it,

but be sure to take care of the Nine Mile dishes before you start getting really creative.” Their most popular dish continues to be Cool Runnings, a combination of chipotle gouda queso, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, and Cajun chicken. Thomas notes that Nine Mile’s future brewmaster has worked at the Montford location for years; he recently finished up the brewing program at Blue Ridge Community College and is now doing an internship of sorts at Oyster House Brewing. “I said, ‘Harry, you’re representing a very big brand here and they need to be exemplary.’ He gets it. We’ve tried two of his beers so far, and they got Nate’s approval—he’s the beer guy.” (Thomas adds that he’s always wanted to brew beer, but didn’t know how to go about it until he nudged Harry to go through the Blue Ridge program. When asked if he’s concerned about entering the already-crowded local craft beer scene, he shrugs his shoulders: “Nine Mile has some pull. We’ve been building this reputation for 11 years.”) The future is certainly bright for Nine Mile as the owners are open to employees rising through the ranks and opening their own Nine Mile locations. Thomas has even toyed with the idea of starting a Nine Mile hemp company. But, he confesses, “I think I’m stressed every day because my mind February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 23

never stops. Now it’s three restaurants, life—Nine Mile things. I am learning to let things go and try not to fix every problem in my head, but I’ll be laying there at 2AM with another big idea.” Nine Mile fans—and there are plenty of them in Asheville, the larger Western North Carolina region, and beyond—certainly hope Thomas, Ray, and their

“I just give thanks to Asheville for the love and the support. And I feel like we’ve earned it by perfecting our menu and process and everything.” crews continue to churn out the tasty ideas for years to come. The occasional long waits for customers to be seated during busy hours at all three locations suggests just that, and Thomas doesn’t take the support lightly. “I always give thanks to Asheville for being so loving to us,” he says, “because in the beginning, like I said, people were taking bets against us, my mom said I was crazy, in-laws are like, ‘What are you doing?!?’ Montford residents were saying, ‘We want sandwiches and french fries!’ I just give thanks to Asheville for the love and the support. And I feel like we’ve earned it by perfecting our menu and process and everything. “And I’m never one to leave well enough alone.” 24

| February 2020


WITH THE SMALL space, to-go orders are popular. February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 25


Two Bits

Our resident gentleman groomsmith maintains that the ritual of single-blade shaving is an art form.



holiday childress

currently operates out of his downtown Asheville studio salon, Holiday Grooms.


dreamed of barbering. Actually, I obsessed over the art and craft of traditional shaving. With no master teacher knocking on my door, I decided several years ago to learn on my own face.

What better way to start? And what better place than the beach, on a nice vacation? I’d bought a supremely sharp new blade. I’d clocked countless hours of YouTube videos. I was ready to use a “real” razor in a “real” way. I shaved with confidence—and without a single cut. My face felt a bit raw, but I’d expected a closerthan-usual shave. A “real” man’s shave. Smooth as silk. I strutted out to the beach for a walk in the sun. And then the burn began. It tore across every inch of my face until I dashed into the cool relief of the waves. Saltwater waves. Razor burn quite like that never happened again, as I made it my business to develop a lighter touch. But other things—nicks, scrapes, missed patches, full-on cuts—happened often as I learned this ritual that now sets my day right, each morning. May my painfully-earned experience be of service to you as you discover the masculine beauty of the traditional shave.

*** My Air Force Dad used plastic disposable razors, a can of Gillette shave foam, and a splash of Old Spice


| February 2020

aftershave. Naturally, this is what I started doing as a teenager in the 1980s—minus the aftershave. And at some point I abandoned the can of foam for a simple razor and warm water in the shower. I wasn’t sure how my friends were doing it, because no one talked about shaving. Why would we discuss a mundane task when we had Tom Waits to analyze? In my early twenties, I began wearing a handlebar mustache, and people assumed I was into shaving as an art form. Uh, no. No clue. Although friends and relatives gifted me with various shave soaps and razors over the years, no one ever knew how to educate me on the shaving process. And it is a beautiful—might I even say sacred?— process. The fun of the shave begins in preparing for it. Ideally, you start with a hot shower and then stand at your bathroom sink, enjoying your solitude. Begin your journey with a high quality brush. Although there are many good synthetic choices these days, I am partial to the traditional silvertip badger hair brush. An entire column could be written on this fine subject. While some brushes cost hundreds, you

can get a nice silvertip badger brush for about fifty bucks at West Coast Shaving. A good brush will work the cream into a rich lather and stand up your whiskers to greet the blade. I use a warmed shaving scuttle when serving a patron in my shop, but at home I simply lather in the palm of my hand. Then I heat the brush in hot water, gently squeeze out the excess water, create lather in the palm, and push the bristles in circular motions

to explore options. But unless you have a lot of leisure, money, and patience, I don’t recommend starting with a traditional one-piece straight razor and strop. You’ve got the rest of your life to get there. A good safety razor will have you enjoying your traditional shave now, without getting discouraged and calling it quits. My favorite is the Merkur Progress, which allows you to adjust the angle of the blade by turning a dial at



I DON’ T RECOMMEND STARTING WITH A TR ADITIONAL ONE-PIECE STR AIGHT R AZOR... across my face. What a luxurious and masculine feeling. If you’re new to the shaving brush and cream, benefit from my beach-burn and use your old razor with its familiar touch. Also, it is a good idea to run the blade under warm water, as nobody likes to drag a cold piece of steel across his face. On your first pass, follow the natural direction of your hair growth. If this is your first time with a single-blade safety razor or a straight-blade traditional razor, then short and light strokes are crucial. Trust the razor to do its own work. (And maybe don’t shave at the beach.) When the first pass is complete, you can use the brush to apply any remaining lather to your face. At this point, if you want a closer shave, lightly stretch your skin as you give it a second pass in the same direction, or go against the grain for a different technique. (Rarely is it necessary to shave against the grain, though.) When you’re satisfied with your shave, splash cold water to close your pores and pat dry. I highly recommend a moisturizing aftershave lotion to restore ph levels and soothe your freshlyshaven skin. Following the lotion, I like the invigorating finish of an aftershave splash. It brings memories of my father and his routine, plastic razor and all. A bit about the razor. Much has changed since the days of clam shell, shark tooth, and flint. There couldn’t be a better time

the handle. Blade angle and sharpness determine how the razor will respond to the details of your face and skin type. If you want one of the sharpest on the market, I recommend my favorite, the Feather blade, made by Jatai in Japan. If you want one a little less aggressive and good for sensitive skin, the Astra blade from Russia is your friend. Perhaps you simply must learn the ways of the straight razor. It calls you. When you’ve been shaving with plastic cartridges and move to an old-school single blade, the big difference you’ll notice is that this new razor has far more heft in the palm. And it is sharp. The kind of sharp that teaches you to be patient and careful. You’ll discover with a little time that a light touch saves you from razor burn and other discomfort. I’d start with Jatai’s Artist Club, which looks and feels like the traditional straight razor you crave. I appreciate its replaceable, easy-to-load blades every day at my shop. A good early blade option for the straight razor—one I wish I’d known about at the beach—is Jatai’s guarded Feather that puts a little buffer between your skin and the blade for some peace of mind as you learn. And learning will take time. The quiet ritual of brush and single blade—prepare, lather, shave, soothe—is well worth your effort. May you lean into it with relish. Cheers and happy grooming!

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news briefs

Traffic Gets Interesting buncombe county

Asheville Brewing and the Orange Peel have entered a 50-50 partnership to own and operate what will become Asheville’s largest outdoor concert venue. Back in June, Asheville Brewing purchased the 1.25-acre lot, which is next to its Coxe Avenue location and was formerly occupied by a Wells Fargo bank. Not much construction is anticipated; the stage will be located at the back of the property, the bank will be used for concessions, and the traffic islands will be ripped out to create uninterrupted seating and/or standing space for audiences of 3,000. The Orange Peel will be handling bookings and other aspects of concert management. The partnership is hoping that, after a spring 2020 opening, the venue will host something every night,


which should not be difficult considering the Orange Peel’s solid booking record. The Orange Peel will now have a permanent venue for its outdoor concerts, which it has been farming out to places like Highland Brewing.

Functional Education

administrators, the class set some goals for the car: It had to be 100% electric, have a range of 100 miles per charge, have two seats and carry-on space, and utilize GPS technology. Original plans called for an aerodynamic exterior, but cost constraints are confining the project to a donated Volkswagen Beetle body. Now in the design phase, Mortensen has enlisted the help of students from the school’s Drafting and Art departments, and drafting instructor Dinah Miller is making available her department’s 3D printer for small-part manufacturing. The production phase was postponed until students returned from Christmas break, and the project had an estimated cost of $25,000-$35,000, with $10,000 in parts already donated. If it runs, the car will become part of the school’s fleet for use by faculty and staff.

watauga county

In his second year as an instructor in Watauga High School’s Automotive Department, Erik Mortensen was casually talking with a couple students about what the car of the future might look like. That led to follow-up conversations with brainstorming and sketches. Then, one day, to the excitement of the entire class, Mortensen suggested they build the car at the school. After procuring all required permissions from school

Have Mercy haywood county

The eighth Mercy Urgent Care facility in Western North Carolina is slated to open in the Publix Plaza in Waynesville in early 2020. Located conveniently off the expressway, the center will treat walk-in, non-emergency illnesses and injuries at a fraction of the cost of a

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50 the old north state

visit to a hospital emergency department. Mercy’s Occupational Medicine division will also be on-site to provide job-related services from drug screenings to the handling of injuries sustained in the workplace. Visits could cost as little as $149, and Mercy accepts most insurance. Persons paying out-of-pocket are charged on a fee-for-service basis, and financial assistance is available for qualified, low-income individuals through Mercy’s Compassionate Care program. Mercy Urgent Care facilities are run by the Sisters of Mercy, who operated St. Joseph’s Hospital in Asheville until it was sold to Mission Health in 1998.

Modern and Conscious buncombe county

The latest issue of Architect magazine features an energy-generating home designed by Duncan McPherson, AIA of Samsel Architects. Located in the Craven Gap wilderness near Swannanoa, the home was commissioned to be a net-zero project made of standard, affordable materials. The owner, explained the architect, did not want to be somebody else’s “guinea pig.” Believing that homes should serve their occupants’ needs, and, “not the other

way around,” McPherson took advantage of the property’s south-facing slope. He laid thick, polished concrete slabs for thermal massing, and glazing dominated the southern exposure, with overhangs cut and angled to maximize insulation in the winter and minimize it in the summer. Fiber cement siding filled the gaps between windows, its many advantages including low maintenance and weather resistance, and it was backed by foam-inplace insulation. This much earned the building a Home Energy Rating System score of 50, compared to 130 for a typical home. Later on, the owner added a tiny, five-kilowatt, roof-mounted photovoltaic array, and, “the energy meter ran in reverse.” The feature was a promotion for Tamlyn trim products, which had an off-the-shelf solution for all the building’s unique joints.

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on new equipment, including a Piranha Ironworker and a Thermal Imaging Trainer, for its hands-on training labs. The remainder of the award will go toward soft costs like general program support, marketing, and scholarships. The grants continue the symbiotic relationship-building BRCC likes to promote with local industry, to make sure the school is providing skills training for the well-paying jobs local industries are able to offer. Proceeds come from $35 million Duke Energy has set aside for North Carolina community colleges and made available competitively through applications submitted to the North Carolina Community Foundation and the Foundation of the Carolinas.

A Parent’s Worst Fears cherokee county

Transfer to Workforce henderson county

Blue R idge Community College (BRCC) received a $200,000 grant from Duke Energy and Piedmont Gas to help train students on state-of-the-art equipment for the advanced manufacturing positions the two companies will need filled. BRCC, in turn, will spend $75,000

The state and Cherokee County had to return over $247,000 in federal funds due to mistakes made by social workers and their supervisors. The errors came to light during an audit of the county’s Department of Social Services (DSS) after the director was caught removing children from their families without judicial oversight. When the mistakes came to light, control of the county’s

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child welfare services had already been assumed by the state. Funds returned were either claimed by falsely representing children as qualified for a program or submitted without the required documentation. Another problem uncovered was children in foster care weren’t receiving the visits required by federal guidelines. Social workers visiting foster children are required to take notes, but in many cases, documentation of visits that never happened were entered into the record. One child whose records were examined in the investigation did not receive a visit in over a year. Harry Maney, who was one of the interim directors of the department under state control and has knowledge of county DSS programs across the state, said the problems in Cherokee are not unique.

Learn Java Language henderson county

Dwane and Melinda Byrd purchased Horse Shoe Hardware in September. Since then, they’ve been stocking the formerly sparse shelves with inventory. The store is small enough that the cashier can walk inquiring customers to the items they need, but the Byrds hope to stock as much as they can to satisfy local needs as the nearest big box store is 20 miles away. Consistent with the owners’ goal of charging fair prices, hardware is available as single-item purchases instead of packaged in boxes of too many, and everything is available for pickup or delivery. Dwane also has a reputation for being able to fix anything. Dwane and Melinda both worked at the store when they were younger, but Dwane went on to work at the local General Electric plant, where he is now five years away from retiring as head of maintenance. Melinda runs the store during the day, and he takes over for her when he gets off work. The store is now stocked for winter, with chains for saws, ice melt, snow shovels, and generators. Horse Shoe is different from other hardware stores because of its wide selection of Case knives. It 30

| February 2020

also has a mascot, a 48-year-old talking parrot named Java, who is a carryover from former ownership.

Invasive Medicine? avery county

Receiving funds from another benefactor bearing the name of industrialist/ philanthropist James Buchanan Duke were Charles A. Cannon, Jr. Memorial Hospital and Avery Emergency Medical Services. A $290,000 grant from the Duke Endowment will set up a community paramedicine program to serve Avery County. In community medicine programs, paramedics with extra training make house calls for the purpose of assessing living conditions, support structure, and other social determinants of health. Participating households will have been referred by primary care providers as having need, or by emergency departments as over-utilizing services. The program thus works to contain healthcare costs by directing limited resources where they can provide more healing for more people. The Duke Endowment was established in 1924 with $40 million. It has since grown to be one of the nation’s largest private 501(c)(3) foundations, having awarded over $3.7 billion in grants with 32% of funding supporting healthcare initiatives.

Separation of Church & Cyber buncombe county

Montreat College has plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars building the Carolina Cyber Center (C3) on an 89-acre parcel it owns. A private Christian college, Montreat has a growing cybersecurity curriculum now with 142 enrollees, hosts hundreds at the annual RETR3AT cybersecurity conference, is certified by the National Security Administration, and just signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Army for cyber education. To accommodate growth, the college sought

$20 million in state funding this year, which was approved by the General Assembly but vetoed by the governor. Opposition fits into three categories. The first argues the $20 million was an outlier in the mini-budget with the next closest earmark being only $5 million for the NC HealthConnex information exchange, and the second contends state funding should support programs in state schools and not private institutions. The third takes issue with the school’s Community Life Covenant and ethics-infused programming, claiming the state would be supporting types of discrimination by funding the facility. The school received $2 million from the state toward its goal last year.

Learning Hospitality watauga county

Appalachian State University (ASU) has signed an agreement with the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) to expand the existing undergraduate transfer student program for students pursuing degrees in hospitality management. The two schools have been collaborating since 2015, and the new initiative, supported by the Ras Al K haimah Tourism Development Authority, will provide five scholarships a year for AURAK students to complete their degrees in hospitality and tourism management at ASU’s Walker College of Business. At the signing, ASU’s provost and executive vice chancellor, Darrell Kruger, told how the program, which has the formal name “AURAK-Appalachian 3+1 Undergraduate Transfer Student Program in Hospitality Management,” will help graduates entering the global marketplace by building cultural literacy and increasing student understanding of their role as global citizens. AURAK’s president, Hassan Hamdan Al Alkim, traveled with a delegation of school leaders to ASU for a formal signing, and ASU will reciprocate by sending Chancellor Sheri Evans and others to the United Arab Emirates in January.

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Growing Together haywood county

Haywood Community College’s Small Business Center, in cooperation with Western North Carolina Agriculture Resource Providers, hosted a free, oneday Agribusiness Summit. Attendees could select programming from either the “Agribusiness Essentials” or “Empowering Mountain Food Systems” track. Workshops included coaching on developing business plans, organic growing from a business perspective, small-scale manufacturing, food safety, adding product value, finding appropriate marketing strategies, and bookkeeping. The seminar was, of course, a forum for networking and building supply chains. Representatives from the North Carolina State Extension were on-hand to connect participants with available grants, loans, scholarships, and programs offered by the government. For the most part, the state would be awarding funds to initiatives pitched as having high potential for expanding its agribusiness sector. The event was made possible through the sponsorship of Carolina Farm Credit.

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We’ll(almost) Paint

Media Entrepreneur transylvania county

Kayla Leed launched her own business, Wildflower Media, in downtown Brevard, at age 21. Leed graduated from Brevard College with a degree in communications, and now she is the owner and creative director of a marketing business that handles traditional marketing, like logo design, using tricks of the trade to establish identity and presence. The company also deals with technology, building websites with aesthetic and informational value, and managing them for search engine optimization. Leed can also write content for blogs and other social media accounts, or even handle email advertising campaigns, to promote a company’s products, as




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well as its image. One service not offered by mainstream media companies is an empowerment course to help individuals and teams realize and enjoy success in the business world. Leed currently has one employee, Ashley Price, who generates social media content.

Deliver Somewhere Else

services will still be available, though, to assess and stabilize pregnant women with complications until arrangements can be made for transport to a larger medical center. Routine checkups and wellness programs will continue to be available through Erlanger’s primary care offices in Hayesville and Andrews. Erlanger is currently working on outplacement for affected staff.

Continental explained the cuts were necessary because the company was having difficulty inking deals for new projects. Wyatt said the county had worked with Continental to keep operations, but he respected the decisions leadership at Continental believed they had to make. Approximately 650 jobs will be affected.

More Woes

buncombe county

jackson county

Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital announced it would be terminating labor and delivery services at its regional hospitals in December and winding down its obstetrics and gynecology services by the end of the year, as well. Erlanger’s exit is representative of an ongoing industry-wide trend, where rural hospitals don’t have the demand to justify continuing these services and, as a result, residents— particularly low-income residents—bear the brunt of the inconvenience and expense. Two factors attenuating patient volumes are women’s preference for the level of attention they can receive at larger medical centers, and baby boomers aging out of their child-rearing years. Affected by the move will be services at Harris Regional Hospital in Sylva and two hospitals in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Largest selection Erlanger’s general emergency medical

henderson county

Henderson County will be terminating its economic development incentive agreements with Continental Automotive Systems. Since 2009, the county has promised the company several performance-based incentive packages that would have totaled $1.1 million, but County Manager Steve Wyatt explained terminating incentives is standard operating procedure when recipients break the terms of their contracts. In September, Continental announced plans to close its Fletcher plant in 2022 and move the manufacturing processes for its hydraulic brake systems that currently run at the plant to San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Operations in Germany, Fast,are also Italy, Malaysia, and Virginia being restructured. Spokespersons friendly for

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Courtney Maybin, otherwise known as the wife of major league baseball player Cameron Maybin, has opened Beauty Bin in South Asheville. Maybin offers inclusive spa services at affordable prices. To Maybin, who is biracial, “inclusivity” is more than a buzzword. Whereas salons frequently cater only to one race, Maybin wants people of all colors to know that when they walk in her shop, they will be treated by staff skilled in determining the best products and regimes for their particular skin and hair types. Services include facials with the normally exotic names, as well as a FarmHouse Fresh and a S’mores unch kend breyelash Indulgence infusion. eeWaxings, w g in v r Now se brow tintings, and massages extensions, are also available. In time, Maybin h cwill nd brun will kecustomers e e open a wet/dry bar where w g rvin owtose beN able enjoy an alcoholic beverage as


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they get a Brazilian blowout. A woman who knows what it’s like to travel long periods of time, sustaining delays and needing care in a pinch, Maybin is striving to remain a shop that can make same-day appointments.

school districts’ lunch debts and can connect persons or groups interested in helping pay down the balances with the appropriate parties.

on businesses in North Carolina with headquarters in Charlotte.

Lifting Burdens

buncombe county

Lunch Money

henderson county

yancey county

The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC) and the Yancey Affiliate Fund opted to pay off the $1,400 lunch debt owed to Yancey County Schools. While the United States Department of Agriculture spends $22 billion a year on child nutrition programs, it is against its policies to apply federal funds toward the satisfying of school lunch debt. CFWNC President Elizabeth Brazas believes children should not have to worry about whether or not they will get lunch due to politics, and members of her organization would prefer to see school lunches made permanently affordable to all children, regardless of family income. The CFWNC manages over 1,100 funds and facilitated the awarding of grants totaling $20 million last year. Each December, the organization celebrates the season of giving with a surprise for one needy initiative or organization. CFWNC has a list of other

Business North Carolina’s Small Business of the Year award went to Excelsior Sewing, makers of LightHeart Gear. The company started over a decade ago when CEO and designer Judy Gross was hiking with a 4.5-pound tent and encountered a man with a huge, lighter-weight design. Gross had been sewing all her life, knew pattern-making, and had even attended design school in Houston. So, she went to work designing her own tent, which ended up using hiking poles instead of tent poles and weighing less than 1.7 pounds. She said her husband tells her to, “invest in what you know;” and she knew sewing, hiking, and backpacking. So, after patenting the tent, she expanded the LightHeart Gear line to include rain gear and hiking apparel for women. Last year, Excelsior moved to a larger factory with three times as much production space, purchased new equipment, and almost doubled its workforce, which now numbers 10. Business North Carolina is a publication focused

Debonair in Lime Pam Granger Gale, owner of Majik Studios, and Marcia Mills of MG Mills Studio, collaborated on a work that was juried into A Stitch to Wear: Wearable Art Exhibition, which ran most of the month of December at the Allegany Arts Council in Cumberland County, Maryland. Mills has over 30 years’ experience in garment design and fabrication, and Granger Gale has over 30 years’ experience in marbling textiles. The collaboration resulted in a matching, marbled three-piece ensemble consisting of a vest, bowtie, and pocket square. Granger Gale made the design on the fabric, which looks like a large, abstract floral in shades of sage, by swirling lime and black pigments. The artists were honored both to display their work in such a prestigious arts community and to have it selected by juror Renate Maile-Moskowitz who, with an impressive resume in a diversity of textile endeavors, now serves as an instructor with Smithsonian Associates. The exhibition ran most of the month of December.

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| February 2020

local industry

REAL ESTATE Year in Review


photo cour tesy Envato Elements By SeanPavonePhoto

Real Estate & A Good Craft Beer As our annual report on the Western North Carolina real estate market reveals, becoming a homeowner is key to getting on the right long-term track. Oh, and that market’s still all about location, location, location.

written by bill fishburne

February 2020 | capitalatplay.com


local industry


eal estate in Western North Carolina was good in 2019. Great, actually, continuing a trend that began in 2012. You might even say the market was better than a good craft beer, as if the two could possibly be equated. Western North Carolina real estate began to emerge from the recession in January 2012 and the upward trend has continued through 2019. Indications are this will continue through 2020 barring the unknown and unknowable turning things upside down. Sales of new and existing single family homes and condominiums in the Asheville Region1 grew 11 percent in 2019 versus 2018, depending on final MLS data which has yet to be posted. At the same time, the median selling price for homes in the Asheville Region increased 4.0 percent in 2019, from $250,000 to $260,0002. The average price might be more accurate in your expectations of what you will pay, however, and that was $298,349 in 2018, with an increase of 3.0 percent to $307,256 at year’s end 2019. Figures for Asheville and Buncombe County increased much more than is reflected in the Regional results and will be covered later in this article. This continued increase may well be regarded as amazing except it accurately reflects what is also going on in the national economy. Disregarding monthly blips and seasonal trends, both the number of housing units sold and their prices have increased continuously for more than an eight year period. Real estate trends are said to be on seven year cycles. We’ll just hold on for the ride while we wait to see how national and international political situations work themselves out. Speaking of the ride, during this same eight-year period the number of brewery members of the Asheville Brewers Alliance grew from very few (number unknown) to 53 fullfledged members, plus associate members who typically are wholesalers, retailers, supporters, or suppliers of brewing products. And not every small brewpub you go by is a member, so there are many more brewpubs than the numbers reflect. Nationwide the number of brewpubs and microbreweries (combined) grew from 2,159,461 in 2011 to 7,477,782 at year’s end. That makes it appear that craft beer brewing is growing faster than the real estate market, a topic most of your local friendly Realtors3 would be happy to discuss with you at the brew pub of your choice. 1 Due to a merger of Multiple Listing Services in 2018, the Asheville Region is a portion of the Charlotte based Canopy MLS system. It includes Buncombe, Burke, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, and Yancey Counties. 2 Average and Median prices for any year represent activity for the previous 12 months. 3 Realtor is a trademark of the National Association of Realtors. 36

| February 2020

Rent Versus Own Before we get to the inventory crisis in our area, let’s look at rent versus own. Most readers of this magazine understand there is a huge financial, social, and, yes, emotional difference between owning and renting. Let’s look at the financial side first. The Triennial Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances Study revealed that a homeowner’s median net worth4 in 2016 was $231,400, a 15 percent increase since 2013. At the same time, the median net worth of renters, which was $5,500 in 2013, actually decreased by 5 percent, to just $5,200. In other words, the net worth of the typical homeowner is 44 times more than that of the typical renter. The same study showed there were 118.3 million households in the United States in 2016, and that 63.4 percent of these owned their home, while 36.6 percent rented. Looking at age groups, the study found that 41 percent of households headed by someone in the 35 to 44-year-old age group are still renting, while only 20 percent of the 45 to 60 age group are renting. This study and others clearly show that there is no financial reason to rent when buying is an option. And with today’s low mortgage rates there is a house and a mortgage out there for nearly everyone with a job and a credit rating of over 500. Exceptions here would include someone whose job is going to change in such a short period of time that the expected price appreciation will not offset the normal closing costs for a home purchase. But we suggest you check that out before making a decision either way. If you’re in the market to buy a house, your first stop is to pick a Realtor. Look at what’s available on the MLS, then, before you start riding around, make an appointment with a mortgage broker to discuss your financial situation. How much house can you afford? Are you about to spend too much? What mortgage is right for you? Realtors are great for helping you find the right house, negotiating the price and handling the details, but it is the mortgage broker that really knows how much house you should be buying. Even if you’re paying cash, it is always good to verify that decision. A small mortgage could be useful either for tax purposes or for maintaining a credit rating. It doesn’t hurt to get professional advice before you buy. We mentioned the emotional satisfaction of home ownership. That’s difficult to measure and there are no charts or graphs for it. But it’s real and it’s awesome, especially for first-time homeowners. One buyer said he felt like a real person when he and his wife finally put down roots in a little house in a cul-de-sac surrounded by other homes with kids playing in the yards and street. It’s immeasurably better than living in an apartment house. And fortunately for our financial and emotional well-being, buying a home today is very affordable, with interest rates in 4 Data from latest study, 2013-2016.

December Closed Sales asheville region


buncombe county

henderson county





haywood county

8K 6K




3,877 2,097




2,081 1,147



+0.2% -4.8%




+11.0% +10.4% +5.1%




Showings per Listing in December asheville region

buncombe county

haywood county

henderson county










the asheville region & buncombe county & haywood county & henderson county: single-family & condo-townhome. each data point is 12 months of activity. data is from january 6, 2020. data supplied by canopy

MLS. report provided by charlotte regional realtor association. February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 37

local industry

December Median Sales Price asheville region

buncombe county

haywood county

henderson county

$350K $300K $250K $200K



$275,000 $240,000





$260,000 $230,000



$150K $100K $50K 0


+6.5% +12.1% +8.3%





+5.7% +5.89%


the asheville region & buncombe county & haywood county & henderson county: single-family & condo-townhome. each data point is 12 months of activity. data is from january 1, 2020. data supplied by canopy

MLS. report provided by charlotte regional realtor association.

the 3.8 percent range and the cost of median home ownership dropping to 17.5 percent of income versus the historical average of 21.1 percent. For renters the picture is just the opposite, with the cost of renting having risen to 27.7 percent of income versus the historical average of 25.8 percent.5 Those figures get even worse in the Asheville metropolitan area, where the cost of housing is 24 percent greater than the state average. Partially as a result, the city and county have had to deal with the growing problem of homelessness. To Asheville’s everlasting credit, few cities in the state have tried harder in their efforts to abolish homelessness and provide affordable housing. In 2006 Asheville and Buncombe County initiated a project entitled Looking Homeward: The 10-year Plan to End Homelessness in Asheville and Buncombe County. It was headed at that time by a genuine heavyweight, retired Asheville city manager Jerome Jones, who was also a retired United States Air Force general. Their report identified 283 homeless people in the city and county, 72 of whom were labeled as chronically homeless. One of the recommended solutions was to provide many of these latter individuals with a place to live that included a kitchen so they could learn to 5 Source: National Association of Realtors. 38

| February 2020

take care of themselves. It also provided a location where they could be found for visits by social workers and others who would provide transportation to medical services, food, and other essentials. Unfortunately, after spending millions on the project, the most recent (Jan. 30, 2019) version of the count6 showed 1,750 homeless people had been housed since 2005, yet despite it all the homeless population (transient, temporary, chronic) had increased to 534. You can’t blame every homeless situation on the cost of housing, but you can say that in our region, just as in many others, the situation is growing worse, not better. The continuing price appreciation we see that makes home owners smile and home buyers cringe is making the bottom end of the economic scale suffer. We appreciate the efforts being put in to solve or at least ameliorate the situation, whether it be in Asheville or in Anaheim. Meanwhile, we report on the real estate market from the perspective of those who are involved as buyers, sellers, Realtors, mortgage brokers, home inspectors, and others whose day-to-day involvement helps support their families and grow 6 2019 Point-in-Time Count Report, Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative.

our economy. And a growing economy has been proven to lift the bottom end of the economic ladder at least to the first rung. That, and the American tradition of helping others, is the best assistance we can offer.

What About Price Controls? Whenever we see tight markets and limited supplies of oil or housing, we hear heartfelt pleas from many people, and well-intentioned politicians saying we have to stop price gouging. The idea is to maintain an orderly market supply by controlling the increase in prices to match normal inflation, normal seasonal fluctuation, or whatever norms the people and their politicians think are appropriate. These factors generally disregard the laws of supply and demand.

Last year 35.5 percent of all Americans agreed their best first step would be to buy a house and generally invest in real estate. In housing that is reflected in restrictions on rental prices. The proposition is that the building is built, its expenses are known, and if $1250 per month is good for 2019, then the only allowed increase in 2020 would be for taxes and inflation, etc., with every municipality adding their own factors. Owners then are often stuck with a building where the income is fixed pretty much no matter what the local market is doing. If a new roof costs $50,000 rather than the budgeted $30,000, the owners may have to absorb the costs out of their profits. Five years or so of rent controls (and rent stabilization) could make the building a bad investment as a rental property. Further, in every case it gradually reduces the number of rental units available. Look at New York City. In 2002 there were 2,085,000 rental housing units available. Of these, 665,000 were non-regulated. In 2017 there were 2,183,000 total units with 936,000 nonregulated. As non-regulated units increased the supply of regulated units dropped from 1,420,000

The Cost of

RENTING vs. BUYING Percentage of Income Needed to Afford Median Rent HISTORICALLY:


25.8% 27.7% Percentage of Income Needed to Afford Median Home HISTORICALLY:



Residential sales peaked from March through October.


February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 39

local industry

Months Supply of Homes for Sale asheville region

buncombe county

haywood county

henderson county

14.0 12.0 10.0 8.0 6.0 4.0 2.0





December Median Price Per Square Foot asheville region






buncombe county






haywood county






henderson county









the asheville region & buncombe county & haywood county & henderson county: single-family & condo-townhome. each data point is 12 months of activity. data is from january 1, 2020. data supplied by canopy


| February 2020

MLS. report provided by charlotte regional realtor association.

December Pending Sales asheville region

buncombe county

haywood county

800 600

henderson county


562 481

400 200



206 66












+54.3% +33% +87.2% +114.1%



the asheville region & buncombe county & haywood county & henderson county: single-family & condo-townhome. each data point is 12 months of activity. data is from january 1, 2020. data supplied by canopy

MLS. report provided by charlotte regional realtor association.

to 1,247,000. In other words, non-regulated housing grew 29 percent, while regulated housing dropped 13 percent and total units only grew 4.5 percent. Clearly the purpose of the rent controls had been defeated by market factors. Landlords had simply converted (sold) unprofitable apartment buildings into resident-owned condominiums, or shuttered them completely, while the number of non-controlled rental units had grown.

Net Worth Considerations How do renters begin to build their net worth? There are many answers to that, but the first and best is to get out of the rental unit and get into some type of home ownership. According to a 2016 report released by the United States Census Bureau, the equity a household has in owning a home is its single largest asset. Retirement accounts are second, while all other assets, including stocks and bonds, trail significantly. The relationship between the top two factors bears examination. A family paying for home ownership each year knows they gain a little equity with each month’s mortgage payment. And they can pay a little bit more each month if they wish to gain equity even faster. Being smart investors, they probably will also establish low-risk retirement accounts that will also grow in value.

Last year 35.5 percent of all Americans agreed their best first step would be to buy a house and generally invest in real estate, while 29 percent thought they would do better in some type of retirement account. We can’t argue either opinion; we can just say that the people who are even asking themselves those questions are unquestionably on the right track.

The Asheville Region Report As noted earlier, residential sales in the Asheville Region far exceeded the modest growth expectations forecast nationwide and locally in late 2018. At that time the Mueller investigation of alleged Trump-Russian connections had been going for more than one-and-a-half years and no one knew what the outcome would be. Mortgage interest rates were just under 5.0 percent, and all four major forecasts (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the National Association of Realtors) predicted interest rates in excess of 5.0 percent in Q4, 2019. Further, more than 50 percent of the United States population feared a recession in late 2019 (and those fears certainly persist in 2020). That’s not exactly what happened. Trump was impeached, of course, but not until December, and even then on charges February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 41

local industry

December Months Supply of Homes for Sale asheville region

buncombe county

haywood county

henderson county

8.0 6.0














2.0 0


+4.7% -10.6%









the asheville region & buncombe county & haywood county & henderson county: single-family & condo-townhome. each data point is 12 months of activity. data is from january 1, 2020. data supplied by canopy

MLS. report provided by charlotte regional realtor association.

completely unrelated to anything Russian. At year’s end, the financial markets were still up, interest rates were still down and headed lower, and home sales were booming. We didn’t, in fact, see 2019 being as strong as it actually turned out to be. At the end of 2018, most if not all economic

Of serious concern in Asheville and Buncombe County is the continued reduction in the supply of homes and condominium units. forecasts ranged from guarded to negative. Our own article of the time, in the February 2019 issue of this magazine, was entitled “Treading Water” both as an allusion to the extremely wet weather encountered in 2018 and slightly in reference to our conservative forecast for 2019. We thought the market would be OK, not Really Good. 42

| February 2020

Our forecast for 2020 is continued market growth especially in the first half of the year. The Conference Board (CB) believes we will see a 5.1 percent increase in real estate sales through June, with declining growth in the 3rd and 4th quarters. Overall, CB says the real estate market will improve 4.6 percent through year’s end. Their figures that are heavily impacted by CB members’ belief that unemployment will grow from the current 3.6 percent to 3.9 percent. Our own forecast is better than that. Based on the knowns in the local economy, it looks as though residential real estate prices in Buncombe County could appreciate by 7 percent in 2020, starting with a 2.5 percent increase in Q1. That is nothing more than a continuation of the current trend. If we maintain that pace through Q2, then we will see even greater price appreciation as the inventory becomes seriously depleted, again ignoring the unknown and unknowable.

Buncombe County Report Buncombe County saw residential unit sales (single family houses and condominiums) in excess of 4,279 units for the year versus 3,877 for all of 2018. Residential


DECEMBER MEDIAN SHOWINGS TO PENDING IN 2019 What is the average number of showings your house should have before it sells?

13 In Buncombe, Haywood & Henderson County

So, if your house is on the market, and after 13 showings you still don't have an offer — or at least not a good offer — that should tell the seller and agent that the house is overpriced for the location, description, or condition it's in.

sales peaked from March through October, with a monthly average of 403 units closed in that period which gradually slid to 329 in November. December 2019 brought about a sales resurgence, reaching 354 units versus just 283 in December 2018. Analysts credit that increase in large part to mortgage interest rates dropping from 4.55 percent in December 2018 to 3.72 percent at the end of 2019. What they don’t factor in is that Asheville and Buncombe County are just darn fine places to live. Of serious concern in Asheville and Buncombe County is the continued reduction in the supply of homes and condominium units. At year’s end in Asheville there was just 2.9 months of inventory counting all price ranges, while Buncombe County was at 3.1 months. Those are near-record lows (2.7 in Asheville in January 2018), but increased demand through the spring and summer always encourages more homeowners to sell while the market is hot. And if the inventory does come it could portend a new sales record for the period as well as for the year. Meanwhile, the craft beer industry in Asheville continues to grow. We don’t have accurate numbers on this despite calls to the Chamber of Commerce and the Asheville Brewers Alliance. And that’s okay, because one or two good ones are enough. You can find the ones you really like on any of the great tours offered by a variety of tour companies. (You can find the tours by going to Viator.com, then inserting Asheville.) The tours range from guided, dog-friendly walking tours to tours via electric bicycling, pedal-powered buses, regular buses, or vans. Beer sampling is a connoisseur’s treat and just a heck of a lot of fun, but it’s wise to have a designated driver. Or an Uber or Lyft app on your cell phone.


SHOP TODAY! Thanks to our generous year-end donors, Goodwill stores are packed with a treasure trove of wonderful and unique items. Don’t miss this time to find great bargains on our everyday items and the chance to find that one-of-a-kind treasure. Plus, every purchase you make supports employment and training programs that help local people find good jobs.

Haywood County Report Haywood County residential sales typically increase 5.1 percent year over year, with a total of 1,147 units closed upon in 2019. The median sales price was up 5.7 percent to February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 43

local industry

Where is the Housing Market Headed in 2020? The Real Estate Market is projected to have a GREAT year in 2020. Interest rates will be stable, as Price Appreciation starts to slow to more normal levels.



Sales of New and Existing Homes will climb as more inventory comes to market!

Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4













Even with a forecasted increase, you can still secure a lower rate than your parents or grandparents did.

HOME PRICES According to CoreLogic's Home Price Index




Home Prices in 2020 will appreciate by:



* Historic normal home price appreciation is 3.6%



Freddie Mac

| February 2020



6.2 6.0



Fannie Mae







Median Percent of Original Price asheville region

buncombe county

haywood county

henderson county

98% 97% 96% 95% 94% 93% 92% 92% 1-2016




the asheville region & buncombe county & haywood county & henderson county: single-family & condo-townhome. each data point is 12 months of activity. data is from january 1, 2020. data supplied by canopy

MLS. report provided by charlotte regional realtor association.

$230,000, still the lowest of the three major counties in the Asheville Metro area. But don’t let that figure fool you into thinking there aren’t fine homes in the area. There are, ranging throughout the county from Canton to Maggie Valley. But if you want to retire to a beautiful area on a budget, or are working and don’t mind a commute into Asheville, you might want to give Haywood County serious consideration. As in Asheville, the Haywood County brewpub scene is growing. Some are possibly known as much for their creative names as for their brews. Topping the list is Frog Level Brewing in Waynesville. The name comes from the in-town community of Frog Level, which is registered on the National Register of Historic Places. The pub features a large outdoor deck overlooking a gently flowing river with picnic tables that are even closer to the water’s edge. A delightful place. But don’t overlook Waynesville’s Boojum Brewery, which is equally well known for its Boojum Burgers. There are at least half a dozen other locations we could mention. Be sure to make time for a stop in a pub when you’ve finished your housing tour for the day… or when your offer has been accepted! (Your agent might enjoy that, too.)

Henderson County Report Henderson County sales were excellent but flat for the year, with 2,081 homes reported sold (as of January 6, 2020) versus 2,097 in 2018. The reason for that is the county also experienced a near-record low in the available inventory of houses, reporting there were 706 units available at year’s end 2019 versus 694 the year prior. Thus, the market was constrained all year and many of the remaining properties were for some reason undesirable. New listings continued to sell quickly, with a Region-leading average of 74 days from the date of listing to the date of closing. Not even Buncombe, with its 83-day average and the hot, hot market, could match that rapid sales rate. The median home price was up 5.8 percent to $275,000, with homes selling at a Region-leading median of 96.7 percent of the last MLS listing price. We’ll sum up the Henderson County craft brewing scene with some of this writer’s personal favorites. Sierra Nevada is a high-end craft aficionado’s delight with a large selection and a location sweetly wrapped in the woods behind the Asheville Regional Airport. It offers everything you might want in beers, plus an excellent and near-gigantic restaurant, guided tours, and February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 45

local industry

December Closed Sales madison county

polk county

rutherford county

transylvania county







400 235







200 0







+4.3% +15.7% +18.5% +5.1%



Median Percent of Original Price madison county

polk county

rutherford county

transylvania county



$300K $275K $250K $225K $200K $175K $150K



madison county & polk county & rutherford county & transylvania county: single-family & condo-townhome. each data point is 12 months of activity. data is from january 6, 2020. data supplied by canopy


| February 2020

MLS. report provided by charlotte regional realtor association.

Mortgage Interest Rates Mortgage interest rates had spiked in 2018, but eventually declined significantly by 2019 year's end, thereby sustaining a strong residential real estate market. 5.00% 4.50% 4.00% 3.72% 3.50% 2016





date source is st. louis federal reserve

even a gift shop. Next in line would be two adjacent breweries in Hendersonville, the Southern Appalachian Brewery on Locust Street and the Guidon Brewery on 8th Avenue. Also in the neighborhood is Triskelion Brewing Company on 7th Avenue. The first two of these (due to their open spaces) are very kidfriendly; and while so is Triskelion, the physical layout doesn’t have as much running-around room. We also enjoy seeing the families at Dry Falls Brewing on Kanuga Road, and when cold cider is the order of the day, we drop in at Bold Rock Hard Cider in Mills River, which has tons of grassy outdoor play areas plus a seasonal bandstand.

Madison County Report Madison County only saw 219 sales for the year, a 4.3 percent increase over 2018. The figure is low but the county only boasts 21,700 residents and has only 9,722 housing units of all types, including apartments. The median income for a household in the county was $30,985, and the median income for a family was $37,3837. Those are some of the lowest income figures in the Region. Madison’s large neighbor to the south, Buncombe County, shows a median household income of $36,666, and the median income for a family was $45,011. The median price for a home (house or condo) in Madison County in 2019 was $250,000. At year’s end there were 158 homes on the market throughout the county. That calculates out to an 8.4 month supply at the current sales rate. 7 "American FactFinder": United States Census Bureau.

With such a small population, there aren’t many brewpubs in Madison County. We could only locate one, the Mad Co. on Main Street in Marshall, the county seat. The pub overlooks Main Street, the railroad tracks, and the French Broad River. It is very popular even with folks from Buncombe County, as the drive is brief and as refreshing as the beer.

Polk County Report Polk County set a record in 2019, with 347 unit sales during the year, an increase of 15.7 percent over 2018. That cut the inventory to 173 houses at year’s end, a drop of 34.5 percent, which is the largest percentage inventory reduction in the Region. At current sales rates there is an 8.8 month supply of homes for sale. The median home price in Polk County was $270,000, a number that compares favorably to Henderson County’s $275,000 median price. In other words, travel a little further, save a few bucks. For those who are demographically inclined, Polk County has an adjusted census population of 20,611, which slips it in just under Madison County as smallest in the Region. Polk County’s significant sales during the year is attributable in some measure to the opening of the World Equestrian Center in Tryon. This is a world-class facility and a major attraction to the equestrian enthusiast. It is destined, we believe, to bring thousands of full and part-time jobs to the area over the next several years, plus a significant growth in subdivision housing, just as its corporate cousin, the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club in Florida, did in the 1980s for its housing development, Wellington. February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 47

local industry

Brewpubs in Polk County are many, but we’ll name two, the Green River Brew Pub in Saluda and McGourtney’s Pub in Tryon. Green River is just down from Hendersonville and is on Church Street, while McGourtney’s is on N. Trade Street in Tryon. Both have received repeated rave reviews and have drawn great support from their communities.

Rutherford County Report Home sales were very good in Rutherford County in 2019, increasing 18.5 percent over 2018. A total of 704 sales were recorded during the month. The downside is that those sales came in with a median price of just $180,900, one of the lowest in the Region, and only a 4.4 percent increase over 2018. Rutherford’s sales prices are greatly impacted by its rural nature and income levels. The median income for a household in the county was $31,122, and the median income for a family was $37,787. The county population is estimated to be 66,826 based on the 2010 census. The major population centers are Forest City, Spindale, and Rutherfordton. The county had a 7.3 month supply of homes at year’s-end, a drop of 3.9 percent from the prior year.

Now, our favorite part of the day, Rutherford County being spread out has a growing population of tap rooms and some brewpubs. Two of note: Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery in Chimney Rock is this brewery’s first location, while a second outlet is opening in Mars Hill in Madison County. In Rutherfordton you can enjoy Yellow Sun Brewery flavors at their location on Trade Street, including seasonal brews as befit the times.

Transylvania County Report If we could all live in the beautiful mountain town of Brevard, we might spend way too much time at the Oskar Blues Brewery. But we can’t, because there aren’t enough houses in the area despite what the slight market imbalance of a 7.5-month might imply. There were 634 unit sales in the county during the year, a slight 5.1 percent increase over 2018. That’s pretty good for a county with a population of only 34,215 persons, of which an estimated 8,000 live in the county seat of Brevard. The median home price in 2019 was $279,900, an increase of 11.5 percent. Despite having several terrific craft breweries, most people come to Brevard for its excellent weather and the splendor

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| February 2020

of its mountains. The aforementioned Oskar Blues is a large national brewery with a location and taproom near downtown Brevard. Other excellent choices include Brevard Brewing Company on Main Street in Brevard; Ecusta Brewing, with locations in Pisgah Forest and on Main Street in Brevard; and our concluding pub pick of the day, UpCountry Tap Room on King Street in Brevard.

“Let’s all hope 2020 works out as well as we believe it will right now. Western North Carolina is a great place to live.” The Wrap-Up This year’s wrap-up and forecast failed to delve into some of our quaint and delightful communities such as Saluda, Lake

Lure, Tryon, Columbus, and others ranging out to Sylva and beyond. Our apologies to one and all. But if you can arrange a brews-cruise for the magazine in 2020, we’ll do our best to work them back in with next year’s real estate report. Let’s all hope 2020 works out as well as we believe it will right now. Western North Carolina is a great place to live, and we hope you’ll share both our opinion and this article with your friends who aren’t here yet.

Bill Fishburne is a Realtor with Beverly-Hanks & Associates in Hendersonville, North Carolina. He is a two-term president of the Henderson County Board of Realtors and was named Realtor of the Year in 2014. Contact editor@capitalatplay.com if you would like to reach Bill.


February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 49




news briefs

Education Dollars elizabeth city

An incentives program for University of North Carolina System chancellors was approved at the UNC Board of Governors’ November meetings held at Elizabeth City State University. The annual awards will be performance-based, with a maximum value equal to 20% of each chancellor’s salary. The lowest paid chancellor earns $291,305, and if all chancellors earn the maximum incentive, the program could pay out $1 million a year. Awards will be divided into two categories, each with a maximum payout of 10% of salary. The first will pay all chancellors for systemwide progress toward goals to be set by the UNC System president every 3-5 years. The second would grant awards in accordance with individual performance as gauged by the president’s annual


assessments and consider criteria like student success, facilities, finance, and compliance. “Overwhelming” performance would merit 10% of salary, whereas being only fully competent would earn a chancellor 5%.

Go What’s-Your-Name! charlotte

At Charlotte’s Mint Museum Uptown, where members of the press were invited to hear a “major announcement,” Major League Soccer (MLS) Commissioner Don Garber, Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, and Charlotte Mayor Viola Lyles announced the city will be the home of the league’s 30th team. MLS, which currently has 24 teams, announced its intention to expand to 30

in April. Billionaire Tepper intentionally bid high, promising a $300-$325 million expansion fee, far above the $200 million paid by the last two teams to be accepted, one in St. Louis and the other in Sacramento. Lyles said the Queen City would set aside an additional $110 million in hospitality funds, but no formal action has been taken to make the appropriation. The company DT Soccer, LLC, registered in Delaware, submitted a trademark application with a list of potential team names to cover team swag and publications including tickets. The team would play in Bank of America Stadium, which will need substantial upgrades to meet MLS standards.

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Dean J. R ichard Leonard of the prestigious Campbell Law School announced the launch of a program to help business startups at HQ Raleigh. What will be called the Innovate Capital Business Law Clinic will assign upperlevel students, under the supervision of licensed business attorneys, to counsel leaders of early-stage organizations in

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| February 2020

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matters, including forming a business entity, obtaining financing, protecting intellectual property, and compliance with tax and employment law and other regulations. The program is targeted at the 300 companies in the HQ Raleigh coworking community, as well as the entrepreneurial ventures of students and faculty at the Campbell University Lundy-Fetterman School of Business and NC State University, but its services will be made available to any other qualifying early-stage, for-profit entity in the greater Triangle area. To qualify, interested parties must demonstrate they are unable to justify paying upfront for legal counsel in a screening that includes the completion of an online application and an intake interview.

Seattle firm Cascadia Consulting Group, which specializes in strategic planning for waste reduction and related concepts like resource conservation and climate resilience. Action began by tracking the company’s waste stream and setting targets. The next steps will be to zero out waste at all the company’s distribution centers outside North America. From there, Kontoor will work on reducing, reusing, and recycling at its design and manufacturing facilities, retail stores, and corporate offices. In July the Lee brand committed to compliance with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s The Jeans Redesign guidelines that promote more environmentally-conscious manufacturing processes.

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Closing of the deal is now conditional only upon the satisfaction or waiver of other terms of the agreement, matters expected to be settled in less than a month. Following closure, Entegra will operate as a division of First Citizens, and Entegra customers are being instructed to continue doing business as usual at their neighborhood branches. The Raleigh-based First Citizens, with over $37 billion in assets, operates over 550 branches in 19 states. Entegra, based in Frank lin, operated only 18 branches in areas in and around Southern Appalachia.

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All six North American distribution centers for Kontoor Brands have now earned zero-waste designation. This means 95% of waste is diverted from landfills. Headquartered in Greensboro, Kontoor is a global lifestyle apparel company with leading brands Wrangler and Lee. The company’s waste reduction program has been shepherded by the

What’s In a Merger? raleigh & franklin

First Citizens Bank & Trust Company has now received all required regulatory approvals from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Office of the North Carolina Commissioner of Banks to move forward with the acquisition by merger of Entegra Financial Corporation and its wholly-owned subsidiary Entegra Bank.

When Brooke Markevicius left her day job to become a full-time mom and freelancer, she found she was not alone. In fact, she found a mini-economy of moms trying to raise extra money with small side businesses, all trading with each other to lend mutual support and save some money. Markevicius first cofounded a coworking space, The Pod Works, so moms could pool office resources. Then, because moms never have enough time, she launched MOMentum Marketplace as a single

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platform combining Etsy, Fivver, and UpWork functions. Since the service is for moms, only moms can list goods and services, but anybody can buy, and everybody is welcome to list jobs to hire moms. The platform currently has 400 moms listing and selling, with funds held in escrow until purchases are received. The next step in helping moms move greater volumes will be to offer the service as an app, for which a crowdfunding drive with iFundWomen raised $11,840 from 103 backers.

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UNC Health Care has a new tool to help improve the patient experience. It’s a free app that would relieve stress if it did nothing more than provide turn-byturn navigation through the halls and parking lots of the UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill and UNC REX Healthcare in Raleigh. But in addition to helping patients get to the right parts of the hospital and guiding visitors to patient rooms, cafeterias, and restrooms, the app provides other useful information like physician directories and wait times at UNC Urgent Care facilities. Other helpful functions include online appointment scheduling and the ability to mark where the car is parked and be guided back after visits. The app was developed by Gozio Health, a business specializing in electronic wayfinding for medical institutions that is endorsed by the American Hospital Association. The navigation, based on data collected by Gozio’s bot as it roamed the halls itself, runs with Bluetooth transmitters and is available for Apple iOS and Android devices.

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| February 2020

Re g u l a r c u st omer s ex pre s s e d confusion upon learning their busy,

neighborhood Sheetz convenience store and gas station on South Main Street was closing. Corporate spokespersons cited poor performance, but neighboring businesses suppose the decision had something to do with 52 police incidents recorded for the store this year. This compares to two and four at the next two nearest Sheetz locations, also in High Point. In the two weeks prior to the announcement, there were seven arrests for drug-related crimes, trespassing, and larceny. Neighbors describe the store as the site of frequent drug overdoses, people on drugs hanging out, panhandling at the gas pumps, and police cars regularly swarming. Citizens have launched a petition to try to keep the store open, and Mayor Jay Wagner said staff from the city’s economic development department has been reaching out to try to convince Sheetz to reconsider. Sheetz has offered outplacement for the store’s employees in its other High Point stores.

Dangers of Noncompete Clauses gastonia

S eve n d o c t or s for merly w it h CaroMont Medical Group opened a new clinic, Gaston Medical Partners, despite ongoing contract disputes. The physicians tendered their resignations in August and filed an initial legal complaint in September. They expect their case would win on its merits, but they also believe CaroMont will attempt to win by drawing out the process until the doctors run out of legal funds. The physicians’ contract with CaroMont had non-compete terms forbidding them from working for any licensed healthcare entity or its affiliates within 20 miles. It further states they may not hire any CaroMont employees for two years after severance. The seven physicians, however, argue complying would affect the well-being of 20,000

patients. They say their choice is either to abandon the patients or sustain “harsh and arbitrary” financial penalties. The physicians have filed a request for a ruling from the North Carolina Medical Board on whether or not the terms are enforceable. Representatives from CaroMont argue they gave the physicians adequate options.

They Get Around burlington

A small delegation from Burlington took a week-long trip to South Korea to promote economic development. The city’s Economic Development Director Peter Bishop, North Carolina Representative Steve Ross, and Katie and Chun Chung of Burlington Sister Cities traveled over 500 miles in the country, visiting four cities and 18 companies. They pitched Burlington as a great place to start a business, promoting its science, advanced manufacturing, and heritage textile industries. Most persons with whom they spoke were already familiar with CS Carolina, a Korean yarn manufacturer with a successful presence in Burlington that was held up as an example of what could be. The delegation’s approach was mainly to start a process of relationship-building, inviting decision-makers in companies to Burlington to visit industries, with plans to make a follow-up visit to ask what they liked, what they think the next steps should be in the recruitment, and when they want to return to Burlington. Visits are already being scheduled.


Jo Chandler “Creative” - “Connected” - “Committed” An Asheville native with a passion for representing her city’s treasures to markets both near and far. 828.231.5444 jochandler@preferredprop.com

Living the Dream wilson

C o - ow ner s S c ot t G ordon a nd Robert Hignite waited five minutes after receiving their approvals before opening Something Old Something

February 2020 | capitalatplay.com


the old north state

New. They’re both preservationists and collectors from Wisconsin who were looking to relocate to a small city near big-city amenities. They say they selected Wilson after looking at about 650 sites. The historic home they selected for their store was in need of repair, refurbishing, and up-fits, having been a shop with no upgrades since the 1930s, which they say is good from a preservationist viewpoint. Hignite owned five stores in the Midwest, so the partners filled six tractor trailers hauling inventory. Because of difficulties encountered unloading things into the old home/new store, they had to rent a warehouse and U-Hauls for a second stage of moving. The partners say they are still working on defining their niche, and they want their neighbors to help out. In the meantime, they’re still opening boxes and still traveling the country scavenging for deals. They encourage all to visit frequently, as they have enough to refresh the floor every week.

Putting Papers Together apex

Garland C. Norris Company (GCN), headquartered in Apex, has been acqu ired by S outhea ster n Paper

Group (SEPG), with headquarters in Spartanburg, South Carolina. GCN was launched in 1904 by an 18-yearold man distributing tobacco with a mule and wagon. Through the years, the company expanded to sell treats, and later on added disposable paper food service items. By the 1970s and 1980s, GCN replaced the treats with janitorial and sanitation supplies, and in 2014, the business was acquired as a wholly-owned subsidiary of S.P. Richards Company, a wholesaler of office, janitorial, and breakroom supplies. At the time of its acquisition by SEPG, GCN stocked 3,500 products for distribution to 400 customers. SEPG is a distributor of 25,000 similar products, including disposable food service items, janitorial supplies, plastic bags, and industrial packaging. It employs 500 and operates nine warehouses. The deal closed routinely, 11 days after it was announced.

iRacing. Earnhardt is a fan of iRacing and a serious player, and he first mused about the project in an episode of his podcast. Based in Boston, iRacing is described as a high-precision driving simulator with hardware requirements so expensive, it is mainly used only by professional racers. After Earnhardt’s cleanup, iRacing deployed its scanners, Earnhardt arguing if the company did not use the imagery in a simulation, at least the track would be preserved digitally for generations to come. The track opened in 1947 and from 19491996 hosted the fall and spring Nascar Cup Series races. After the track closed, there was little incentive to maintain or improve it, since Bristol was not far away and had four times North Wilkesboro’s seating capacity. Earnhardt never raced on the track, but his father did from 1979-1996, winning five times.

Even Microsoft Could Use a Break

Taking a Digital Track north wilkesboro

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. paid a team to clean the North Wilkesboro Speedway, ridding it of weeds and muck to make it look race-ready for digital capture by


M icro s of t s ele c t e d Mor r i s v i l le over Houston as the site for its latest expansion. The choice was spurred by a promise of performance-based

Western North Carolina's Free Spirit of Enterprise

Join us on Social Media! f o r t i c k e t g i v e away s , e x c l u s i v e s , a n d m o r e ! 54

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incentives of up to $13 million from the state and $1.9 million from the city and Wake County governments. Funds would go toward expanding an existing facility and creating 500 jobs, mostly for software developers, paying an average salary of over $125,000. The previous month, Microsoft agreed to add 430 jobs paying an average salary of $98,000 to its Charlotte operations. Economic development offices credited performance-based incentives from the state of up to $7.9 million and another $1,200,000 from local governments for closing that deal. Representatives of Microsoft say economic development incentives do sway where the company, now valued at over $1 trillion, will locate operations. An abundance of tech talent in and around Morrisville also factored into the latest decision, leading Governor Roy Cooper to stress the need for more education spending at the announcement ceremonies.

“Beauty Is As Beauty Does,” She Says wilmington

Wilmington’s WECT-TV6 profiled a beautician who is part of a trend that is

not growing fast enough. Elisha Smith is with Blush Haus of Beaute, now the fourth salon in town to partner with Green Circle Salons to recycle waste from beauty parlors. Smith said she used to be unable to recycle things like foils, color tubes and boxes, gloves, and wax sticks, because they were contaminated with chemicals. For a sense of magnitude, she usually goes through 11 to 44 foils on 1,000 clients, each, a month; the entire industry is believed to be landfilling 900 pounds of waste a minute. Green Circle collects industry-specific waste from salons in the United States and Canada and cleans materials for repurposing. For example, cut hair is being stuffed into used stockings by inmates to create booms for cleaning oil spills. Smith charges $1.50 per visit to cover the costs of recycling, and she says her customers don’t mind. She is now able to recycle 90% of her waste. Other Green Circle salons in Wilmington are Casa PRANA, PURE by gloss, and GLOSS Studio Style.

Up, Up, and Away raleigh

S t a r t u p P r e c i sion H aw k r a i s e d another $32 million in a round led by

Millennium Technology Value Partners, Third Point Ventures, and Eastward Capital Partners, which also helped the company raise $75 million last year. The company, which combines a large fleet of drones with advanced software for data analysis, has now raised over $135 million. Funds will be used to hire software engineers, and the company recently moved its headquarters from suburban Raleigh to the middle of a vibrant bar scene downtown with hopes of attracting better and brighter talent. The company is now headed by CEO Michael Chasen, whose first startup sold for $1 billion and second was purchased by Verizon. In both years under his leadership, PrecisionHawk has seen 100% growth. One reason for the upswing was the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of an expanded list of allowed uses for drones. And, it will be a while before ripple effects of that decision plateau, as drones are becoming standard equipment for agriculture and utility work, additional businesses are gaining confidence and interest in the capabilities of the little flying machines, and PrecisionHawk keeps improving its artificial intelligence and machine-learning software.


The number of local dentists who refer their patients to Rockcliff for Oral Surgery and Dental Implants

In our business, trust is earned. Call us today at 828.255.7781 to learn how we will earn yours! We have offices in Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, and Sylva. rockclifforalsurgery.com

Rockcliff surgeons have placed more than

10,000 dental implants using the most extensive training and latest technology.

February 2020 | capitalatplay.com

Surgeons: Larry P. Parworth, William H. Logan, Samuel Hayes, Eric Burgon, Eric Warburton, Alexander Consky


Dance, Dance, Dance

DANCING COUPLE AT Lindy Focus, photo by Jessica Keener


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leisure & libation

Looking to learn a traditional style of dance? Want to work up a sweat? Or do you just want to freestyle? Western North Carolina has plenty of options. written by shawndr a russell February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 57

leisure & libation

“Just dancing to the beat, feel the heat I’m moving my feet Headed towards the floor, gonna get down A-get down some more…”

—Chic, 1977 In March 2019 Rolling Stone magazine ceremoniously dubbed Asheville “the new must-visit Music City,” thanks in part to live music being on the calendar nearly every night of the week—on the streets, via the scores of sidewalk buskers, and in dozens of venues, where locals and tourists boogie down side-by-side. Our vibrant music scene goes hand-in-hand with the area’s diverse dance offerings that encompass professional training, casual instructor-led classes at breweries, and good-old-fashioned barn shindigs. Whether you’re looking to learn a traditional style of dance, want to work up a sweat, or you just want to freestyle, our region has plenty of places where you can shake off your worries and get lost in the music and movement. To get a better sense of what the greater Asheville area dance scene offers, we talked with workout studios, farmers, private dance teachers, professional outfits, and dance festival directors, and one thing was made resoundingly clear: Dance attracts everyone from kids to centenarians—so don’t be shy about lacing up your dancing shoes no matter your age. Groups also often book private parties or lessons as a team-building opportunity, or in the form of a family reunion, bachelorette weekend, or school field trip, and we’re lucky that practically any style of dancing exists, and often thrives, in our region. So grab your sweetie, your friends, your coworkers, or your family and head out for a carefree night on the town. Spoiler alert: It just might turn out to be one you won’t soon forget.  58

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photos this page courtesy Veda Studios

photo by Jessica Keener

Veda Studios This combination yoga, martial arts, and dance studio offers dance classes for Flamenco, barre, and 5Rhythms—dubbed “a dynamic way to both workout and to meditate in the same breath,” according to the practice’s creator, Gabrielle Roth— but their most heavily attended are the Brazillian Zouk and Bachata classes. Zouk classes are based on lambada dancing, “characterized by the dancers’ undulating bodies and the girls’ flowing hair,” according to ZoukTheWorld.com. Veda describes the dance as a way to “improve connection and flow of social dancing,” and the studio is fortunate enough to have instructor Brad Meccia leading zouk classes, as he trained in Rio de Janeiro with the dance style’s creator, Renata Peçanha. “We opened in 2014 in order to offer affordable, accessible, and authentic classes taught by well-trained instructors, with the belief that community and health go hand-in-hand. We work toward community building, connecting like-minded individuals through movement and mindfulness,” says studio manager Erin Cohen Clark, who adds that the area dance scene “strives to create a fun, safe, and inclusive space for all humans.” Their Bachata classes also continue to be popular, which derives from the Caribbean and Dominican Republic

and involves dancing within a square. This is described on Veda’s class schedule as “the blues of Latin dance in that it creates a space to develop and explore varying degrees of closeness and connection.”

Studio Zahiya For 12 years this downtown Asheville dance and fitness studio has been a haven designed “to create a space for all people to express themselves,” says owner Lisa Zahiya, who travels internationally teaching, performing, and developing curriculum. They offer a wide variety of classes, including belly dancing, a beginner Flamenco series, hula, jazz, samba, tap, and modern tribal fusion Choreo drills, but their most popular offering is Hip Hop Cardio Dance, taught five times a week (also available for private groups and parties). “We don’t have a typical… We believe dance is for everyone, and have had 100-year-olds in our classes,” she says, adding that she’d like to see West African, Afro Haitian, and/or Afro-Caribbean dance classes added to the regional dance calendar. Studio Zahiya also offers classes dedicated to kids and teens, including choreographed hip hop and samba classes. February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 59

leisure & libation

(L AND R) Cloggers At Hickory Nut Gap, photo by Brenden Almand Photography/theProPortrait.com

Hickory Nut Gap This popular farm in Fairview, located east of Asheville, offers a traditional night out with a caller, aka someone who runs folks through some of the moves a few times before

And when the style of dance is a little more complicated—such as swing, jazz, or two-step—there will be an instructor on hand to help guide attendees. calling out those moves for a dance. And when the style of dance is a little more complicated—such as swing, jazz, or two-step—there will be an instructor on hand to help guide attendees. Dubbed Barn Dances, held from May to 60

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October, they are a regional concert series of great variety which attract a broad range of folks. Especially, as events manager Megan Auten puts it, “lots of families with kids of all ages; it’s a great opportunity for parents to have a meal and a drink out while their little ones run around, slide on the slide, and visit the animals,” adding that their square dancing nights are their most popular. She also gives high praise to Studio Zahiya—“they have fantastic dance classes!”—and advises that those interested in more square dancing opportunities should check out the Old Farmers Ball weekly contra and square dancing tradition at Warren Wilson College.

Old Farmers Ball Speaking of which… besides their weekly stints at Warren Wilson on Thursday nights, Old Farmers Ball—not a once-yearly event as its name implies—has been helping Western North Carolina contra dance lovers kick up their

heels for nearly 40 years. Thursday nights start with a beginner lesson led by a caller from 7:30-8PM, with the dance starting immediately after with a live band and caller. It goes until 11PM (contra waltz music plays during intermission for those versed in that style). Expect about 100 people in attendance along with a variety of bands from up and down the East Coast. “Our typical attendees are a mix of 20–35 years old and 50–70 years old, most locals,” says marketing committee chair Cathy De Troia, “although the Asheville dance is well known as a high energy dance and we often have out-of-town visitors. We have at least 50–75 regulars. They continue to attend because they experience a welcoming community and a way to share in the joy of live music, dance, and the smiles of all the other dancers.” De Troia also appreciates chances to dance to East and West Coast swing and blues and Lindy hop at the Workshop Lounge in the Foundry Hotel and The Pillar, and she’s been known to get down to zydeco and honkytonk/western at the Cork ‘N Keg.

photo by Karl Hinterkopf / courtesy Old Farmer’s Ball

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leisure & libation

EVERY BEAT COUNTS February is National Heart Month, and the Y can help you make heart healthy choices. A stronger heart is an achievable goal through lifestyle changes such as lowering sodium intake, eating cleaner, and getting more physical activity. Speak to a wellness coach at your local Y for more tips to improve heart health. The Y.™ For a better us. » ymcawnc.org « YMCA OF WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA

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| February 2020

photo by Jessica Keener

photo by Ryan Swift

The Carpenter Academy of Irish Dance Maybe the ancient art of Irish dancing appeals to your sensibilities? If so, check out a class at the Asheville branch of The Carpenter Academy, located in South Asheville, with training and performance locations throughout the Southeast. But be ready to make a commitment, says instructor Heather Gallagher. “The most advanced students in the school are in class a minimum of two times a week for at least two hours at a time,” she says. “The beginner and advanced beginner levels attend one day each week.” She adds that in 2018 the studio “joined forces with Amanda Carpenter, out of Buford, Georgia, to give our students more opportunities and feel part of a larger team.” She’s also excited about their growth and the new Celtic Festival happening this month, February 15, at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center in Fletcher, west of Asheville.

Lindy Focus Swing dance lovers won’t want to miss this annual five-day celebration held every year over New Year’s at the Crowne Plaza Resort. Organizers promise some “of the world’s best dance instructors and the best live music on the planet,” but owner Michael Gamble also promises that “everyone decked out in their vintage finery is a guaranteed mood booster!” Gamble says while many swing dancers start for social reasons, many “become invested long-term because it awakens their interest early jazz and swing music, and the historical black art form of vernacular jazz dancing.” Although the local swing scene is on the relatively small side, according to Gamble (outside the Tuesday night swing dancing at The BLOCK off Biltmore), Lindy Focus attracts at least February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 63

leisure & libation

photo courtesy Empyrean Arts

1,000 dancers from all over the world. “Between the Triangle area and Asheville, we actually have some of the top swing musicians and bands in the country, which is not necessarily what one would expect from North Carolina—I think we’re very lucky!” he says. Gamble also highly recommends swing enthusiasts check out Bull City Swingout in Durham, “where they not only have incredible dancing and music, but also build their program on their city’s rich jazz history, which not many people know about.”

Appalachian Clogging and Flatfoot Airbnb Experiences Airbnb Experiences are obviously tailored to out-of-towners, but the truth is, there are some great offerings in the Asheville Experiences section of Airbnb, including this personalized Appalachian Clogging class. Area dance teacher Linda Block says, “I give a short introduction to the local history of clogging, teach several entry-level steps, take a short break to watch some historic video clips that capture the spirit of clogging photo by Anthony Harden


| February 2020

photo courtesy Ballet Conservatory of Asheville

and flatfoot in Western North Carolina, then jump back into dancing. Depending on the physical stamina of the participants, I insert short discussions about the differences between clogging and flatfoot, best shoes to wear, portable dance boards, the structure of old-time music tunes, etcetera.” Besides this offering from Airbnb Experience, Block also teaches private lessons for individuals and groups, including private parties, for groups of all levels, and offers a four-week series featuring live music by Jon Cooley. “I’ve had some students work their way up from beginner level to advanced, and several have gone on to join and perform with the Green Grass Cloggers!” she shares, with more than a note of pride in her voice.

Empyrean Arts When Empyrean opened its doors, the next-closest pole dancing class was located two hours away, and the foresight to open this downtown aerial arts studio has paid off as the owners embark on five years of business. While many of the area’s dance offerings revolve around tradition, Empyrean

Arts focuses on modern pole dancing and aerial arts for those who want to dance airborne. In addition to their well-attended studio shows where instructors get to show off their talents, this company attracts folks who want to try something new or felt “a traditional gym was not a good fit for them, or they had a specific goal that they wanted to achieve, like being able to do a pull up, or become stronger, or be upside down, or touching their toes, or getting their splits,” says Heather Poole, who co-owns the space with Waverly Jones. The duo have dubbed their class menu as “movement education.” As Poole explains, “Our classes are fun, supportive, and accessible, while also challenging people in different ways. We wanted to create a haven where people could come for recreation, for relaxation, for professional development in performing or teaching, for therapeutic movement, and for goals and dreams to come to life,” Poole adds. She also recommends Butoh classes with Julie Becton Gillum and Total Gold nights on first Fridays at O. Henry’s in downtown Asheville, North Carolina’s oldest gay bar, which consist of “hot jams and cold truth,” including guilty pop pleasures, R&B, rap, and ‘90s grooves. 

February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 65

leisure & libation

photo courtesy Veda Studios

photo by Jessica Keener

Dance Club Asheville This is another spot where you can learn pole and hip hop dancing in what founder Kathleen Hahn calls “an inclusive, supportive environment for dance. Our student demographic is very diverse...some people come to get in shape, some people come to feel good in their bodies, others come to have fun, or to release stress, or to connect with other people in the community. But all in all, whatever the reason, everyone is ultimately there to move and dance in a space with unconditional acceptance.” Hahn particularly wanted to offer pole dancing because “I was in awe of how much body positivity, self confidence, and fun I had in a pole dance class, and that became my ultimate goal when opening Dance Club.” You can often find Dance Club Asheville students and teachers alike at The Underground, located nearby, which has two poles. “When our students are at The Underground, they always end up teaching someone new some pole tricks and spins by the end of the night. It’s a lot of fun!” she says.


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The Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre/New Studio of Dance (ACDT) Have you always dreamed of being a professional dancer, or think you have what it takes to give it a shot? Then the mission statement of Western North Carolina’s first professional modern

“The creative processing class is one of the highlights of our program and has attracted all ages to our school, ages four to 90.” dance company, ACDT, might be exactly what you’re looking for: “The school prides itself in taking the novice dancer through the many stages of technical and artistic development

photo by Anthony Harden

to perform at a professional level in this culture and abroad.” Drop in for a 1-hour class for just $15 to test the waters, then you can opt for the Pre-Professional Jr. Company multiple class package, which garners students eight hours of classes per week, plus an additional 30% off additional hours for $260 per week. “Our most popular classes are the contemporary/composition classes for both the adults and the children. The creative processing class is one of the highlights of our program and has attracted all ages to our school, ages four to 90,” says owner Susan Collard. Not ready to commit to the life of a professional dancer? Well, you can still enjoy their work at annual performances of The Nutcracker and The Mouse King every December, and at The Fringe Festival, which attracts 160,000 to various venues throughout Asheville every January. “We also have an event that showcases NEW DANCE, experimental, collaborative original work. This is presented in the BeBe Theatre, which is a much smaller venue of about 49 seats and is always well-attended,” Collard says.

photo courtesy Center Stage Dance Studio

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leisure & libation

photo courtesy Center Stage Dance Studio


In addition to the locations spotlighted in our report, Western North Carolina offers a multitude of dancing opportunities for veterans and novices alike.

>  2umbao dance

>  ballroom

>  high country

Salsa instruction held at The Academy at Terpsicorps.

Private lessons and plus Tuesday night drop-in “practice dance” events.

Lessons in clogging, jazz, hip-hop, mini-mountaineer, aerial silks, tumbling, yoga, and more, plus presentations.


>  wnc dance academy

Monday - Friday, 3-9PM. Ballet, tap, hip-hop, jazz, contemporary, and acrobatic styles are taught. 829 Riverside Dr., Asheville Wncdanceacademy.com

>  ballet

conservatory of asheville

1501 Patton Ave., Asheville facebook.com/2umbao

>  asheville ballroom


291 Sweeten Creek Rd., Asheville ashevilleballroom.net

Classes and presentations. 6 E Chestnut St., Asheville balletconservatoryofasheville. com

>  the academy at terpsicorps

Classes and presentations.

Cathedral of All Souls, Biltmore Village, Asheville Ballroomballyhoo.com

>  center stage dance studio

Since 1979, youth (age 3-18) dance lessons in ballet, jazz/ tap, modern, and more. 38 Rosscraggon Rd., Asheville centerstage1.com

>  a- b tech dance

>  haywood dance



Lessons in line dancing, swing, flowing waltz, Latin, modern, nightclub rhythms, and more.

Youth and adult lessons in ballroom, Latin, and swing (times posted Online).

1501 Patton Ave., Asheville Terpsicorpsacademy.org 68

dance centre

Classes and presentations in classic partner dancing of all forms such as one might view on Dancing With the Stars.


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340 Victoria Rd., Asheville abtech.edu/community-enrichment/dance

61 ½ Main St., Canton facebook.com/dancetonighthaywood

dance studio

231 Deerfield Rd., Boone highcountrydancestudio.com

>  john c . campbell folk school

Contra, square, two-step, and English country dance lessons available, plus Saturday dances 8-11PM. One Folk School Rd., Brasstown classes.folkschool.org

>  northwestern studios

Ballet lessons for youth and adults, plus presentations. 1474 Hwy. 105, Boone Northwestern-studios.com


>  center for art

>  asheville

and spirit at st. george’s episcopal church

Nonprofit hosting free-form “dance waves” to inspire healing and authenticity.

Contra dancing, Mondays 7:3010:30PM, in a “sacred space” focusing on recovery, music, visual art, movement, dance, education, and meditation.

movement collective

PO Box 246, Asheville ashevillemovementcollective.org

>  access dance Online resource searchable by city, genre/preference, and age group; includes a list of Asheville-region instructors. accessdance.com/events/state/ nc/asheville

photo by Anthony Harden

1 School Rd., Asheville, NC stgeorgeswavl.org/center-forart-spirit

>  dance asheville Online newsletter resource listing various dance events throughout the area, broken down by venue, genre, and date. danceasheville.com

>  boone country dancers

Contra dance Mondays 7-10PM. Legion Hall, 333 Wallingford Rd., Blowing Rock boonecountrydancers.org

>  boone shag club Shagging dances every 2nd and 4th Fridays (also some Saturdays) 7:30-9:30PM; newcomer lessons 7PM (check website—some events move to American Legion venue). Blowing Rock Club House, 108 Lakeside Dr., Blowing Rock booneshagclub.com

>  club eleven on

grove salsa night Monthly salsa dances and lesson. 11 Grove St., Asheville Elevenongrove.com

>  jack of the wood

Free old-time jam Wednesdays 6PM; bluegrass jam Thursdays 6PM; Irish jam Sundays 5PM. 95 Patton Ave., Asheville jackofthewood.com

Omni Grove Park Inn, 290 Macon Ave., Asheville theheritageclassic.com

>  oskar blues >  hendersonville ballroom dance club

Friday night ballroom dancing 7:15-9:30PM. VFW, 900 N. Main St., Hendersonville Hendersonvilleballroomclub. com

>  heritage classic ballroom championship

Taking place March 3-7 and hosted by Florida’s Viva Dance Promotions.


Mountain Music Mondays 6-8PM 342 Mountain Industrial Dr., Brevard Oskarblues.com

>  room to dance Tuesday - Saturday, 7PM-12AM. Slated to open February 1; membership-only ($1 annually) “adult dance venue” boasting 1,200-sq.-ft. dance floor plus DJ and adult beverages.

>  shagging at

hopey ’s gastropub Hosted by the Mountain Shag Club Tuesday nights 6:30-9PM. 45 South French Broad Ave., Asheville mountainshagclub.com

>  smoky mountain dance club

Shag, cha-cha, two-step, swing, waltz, and round dancing every 2nd and 4th Saturday 7-10PM. Francis Asbury Methodist Church, 725 Asbury Rd., Candler smokymountaindanceclub.com

175 Biltmore Ave., Asheville roomtodanceavl.com February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 69


Business Succession Planning 101 Your business started with a plan. It grew and became successful with a plan. Shouldn’t your exit be as well planned, too?


HEN I FIRST ASK SUCCESSFUL business owners their plan for leaving their business, they often look at me quizzically and say, “Why should I plan on leaving my business, it’s going along great right now!”

M michael palermo

is an Asheville business lawyer with over 25 years’ experience.


Then I ask them if they know the odds of their leaving the business one day. After a second they realize that there is a 100 percent certainty that at some point they will no longer own their business. “Well, I guess I’ll leave it to my kids,” they often come back with. “Great,” I respond, according to script. “Do your kids want to own the business, is there enough profit in your business to split with all your children, can all of your children get along well enough to run the business?” The conversation goes like this every time, seeing on their faces the realization of what the effects of their lack of succession planning might look like. At this point we can have a conversation about real succession planning: That is, how

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can a business owner transfer ownership of their business while monetizing the transaction, providing economic surety and predictability for their family, loyal employees and customers, and ensuring that their legacy of success continues. True succession planning should start as early as the founding of the business. Your business has value, whether you own it or someone else does. That value can disappear, however, if the transition from your ownership to the next is mishandled. In this article I’ll detail the reasons why you should have a formal succession plan. In a subsequent article I’ll set out the various ways to finance the sale of the business under your plan.

M Why Make A Formal Succession Plan? Business owners should seek the maximum economic benefit of any transaction, including their exit from the business. When it’s time for you to leave, it’s also time to cash out the equity you’ve built over the years. Owners should plan not only for voluntary exits like retiring, but involuntary departures such as death or disability. Your exit needs to be planned well in advance to avoid that loss of value in the transition. Before even looking for a buyer, the business’ finances need to be put in order to be attractive to a purchaser. A business to be sold on the open market looks better to a buyer if it can immediately turn over its financials and pass a due diligence and on-site inspection. Being prepared shows that you’ve professionally run your business’ operations and that the business is “turn key” ready for a new owner. Assembling clear and accurate P&Ls, cash flow statements, and proper corporate documents, such as bylaws, are all part of the pre-transfer planning. “Optional” expenses need to be cleaned from the books. For example, is your luxury car a necessary expense of the business? When I bring this up in seminars, it always gets a chuckle because everyone does it. But a $750 expensed car payment is $9,000 a year in potential profit that you’re not showing to a purchaser. You should have a handle on inventory, get the facility and equipment clean and in good repair, and there should be strong current contracts and work in the pipeline. This all takes time. On the other hand, if a co-owner, key employee, vendor, or customer have expressed interest in buying your business, the preparation and structure of the sale might look completely different. They’ll already be familiar with the finances, facilities, sales, and customers. That doesn’t mean there’s less planning for this transition, though—just different.

Like painting a house before you put it on the market to get competing bids, good succession planning starts long before you find a buyer. Now let’s look at three kinds of succession transitions: the unplanned exit, voluntary, and involuntary exits.

The Unplanned Exit. Dying at your desk and letting your heirs fight it out is not a succession plan. The effects of not planning will rattle through your business for as long as it may continue operating, which often is not much longer. First, your ownership will pass through North Carolina’s probate system. This gets complicated when your surviving spouse, children, and parents all show up claiming their share. It takes months for the probate process to be completed, during which there’s no one running your business. Employees and customers will abandon ship. There’s that value lost in the transition. Second, your heirs may not want to own any part of your business. Your kids are likely out living their own lives. There may also be an unpredictable estate tax on the inheritance. Either one of these will result in them selling the business anyway. Last, your surviving business partners don’t want your heirs peeling your share of profits off the business without contributing the long hours necessary to earn those profits. The partners will have to make up your missing work, for no additional gain. A surviving owner might just shut down the business and reopen under a new name without the legacy ownership. If this happens, your heirs lose the benefit of the equity you had built up. More lost value from a poorly planned transition. True story: I had a client whose b u s i ne s s p a r t ner d ie d f r om a recurrence of cancer. He owned 33% of the business, she the other 67%; plus, the work was engineering so it could only be done by a licensed engineer— him or her. In between her first and

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predictable second bout, they never figured out what would happen to her share of the business on her death. When she died without a will, her 67% of the business passed to her husband and two children.

FOR THIS REASON, SUCCESSION AGREEMENTS IN MULTI-OWNER BUSINESSES OFTEN HAVE A RESTRICTION ON TO WHOM AN OWNERSHIP INTEREST CAN BE TRANSFERRED, That meant two things for my client. First, he now had to perform 100% of the work to make up for her lost labor. Second, he got to ship 67% of the profits from this extra work to his deceased partner’s heirs. He decided to close the business. Everyone got nothing. This is what a lack of succession planning looks like.

Voluntary Succession. Retiring at the peak of running a successful business is everyone’s goal. Sometimes, too, an owner will voluntarily depart for other reasons—burn out, illness, a desire to pursue a new interest. In a single-owner business the exit process is simple: Find a willing buyer and sell. The most common person in my experience is the “valued employee,” who has worked at the business for years, and has expressed a desire to one day take over. Vendors and competitors are also a good sea in which to fish for buyers. They’re already familiar with your industry, operations, and your business’ goodwill. Add one or more co-owners to this mix, though, and the exit plan gets more complicated. Non-departing partners don’t want your share to be sold to a stranger, just like you wouldn’t want it done to you if your partner retires. You’ll be forcing the remaining owners to be co-owners with someone they don’t know anything about, including their ability to do the work to keep the business running successfully, and their ability to get along with the remaining owners. For this reason, succession agreements in multi-owner businesses often have a restriction on to whom an ownership


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| February 2020

interest can be transferred, usually giving remaining owners a right to purchase the departing owner’s share. This right of first refusal is just what it sounds like: When a departing owner wants to transfer their share of the business to an outside person, the current owners have the right to purchase those shares themselves over the intended purchaser. Businesses with a few owners want this so they can control who they have to work and share profits with. Similarly, businesses with dozens of owners benefit from a right of first refusal provision because some owners might want to increase their ownership in, and thus control over, the business.

Involuntary Succession. Involuntary succession occurs when co-owners force an owner to sell their share of the business to them when they might not want to sell it. Business owners want this option so that they won’t be forced to own a business with someone who is incapacitated and can no longer provide their share of the labor necessary for the success of the business (e.g., infirmity, disability, substance abuse); where there is a potential forced transfer of the owners’ share to a third party (bankruptcy, divorce); or where the owner has demonstrated

fiscal irresponsibility such that their business judgment might be questioned (bankruptcy, loan defaults). The owners should work their succession plan early, preferably when the business is formed. When a partner is in the hospital, bankruptcy, or the middle of a divorce, the chances of negotiating buyout terms quickly go to zero. And again, there’s that loss of value in the transition from failure to plan.

*** In the second part of this series, I’ll detail how to finance a business transition in these various situations, including seller financing, private and bank loans, and using insurance proceeds to buy out a departing owner’s share. Michael Palermo has worked with global corporations and small, two-person shops. He often presents seminars on succession planning, risk management, and nonprofit fiduciary topics.

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THE BROTHERS' businesses are side by side in downtown Asheville.

Brotherly Love

written by emily gl aser photos by anthony harden


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Thanks to a pair of immigrant brothers— Hashim and Farouk Badr—two of downtown Asheville’s anchor establishments remain beacons of karma, kindness, and balance. February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 75




he idea of destiny has been debunked. No longer do we see ourselves as mere feathers on a breeze of circumstances, but rather foremen consciously dictating the paths of our lives—which makes it all the more deliciously serendipitous when our paths do tread the lines of stereotype.

Hence the charm of Asheville’s Badr brothers, who fit as snugly into their roles of big brother-little brother as engine pistons or rubber gloves. Hashim, the dignified elder draped in blazers and airs of the studious professor, acts with slow intention and carefully planted words, steps, and smiles. Farouk, aka Frank, sports a baseball cap that seems to befit his name; he speaks quickly, sincerely, and frenetically, and proffers a roguish grin at whim. Even their professions align with providence: Hashim, the pharmacist; Frank, the restaurateur; careers that feel almost fictional in their aptness. Their seemingly predestined adherence to their roles as siblings is all the more compelling because it stands in such stark contrast to the rest of their respective stories, in which both brothers have repeatedly defied the presumptions of fate. Both left their native Jerusalem to seek a different life in the United States, then left the Southeast’s larger metropolises for ‘70s era Asheville, and, in the greatest gauntlet-drop against fate of all, both opened businesses in a then-derelict downtown that have since grown into local


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institutions. Throughout their lives, when the path diverged, both chose to take the road less traveled with the type of defiant dedication that would have made Frost proud. As the entrepreneurs behind Asheville Discount Pharmacy (established 1982) and Jerusalem Garden (1993, when it was known as Superette), Hashim and Frank, respectively, were forebears of a new downtown and are now, as the neighborhood enters its next era, prudent and cautionary elders and cornerstones of the community. To weather the changing tides of Asheville, the Badr brothers, despite their differences, lean across the table to declare firmly the same secret to success: dedication to community. In an era when immigration is so contested, the Badr brothers stand as a testament to the positive impact diversity can have upon a community. As some of Asheville’s earliest immigrant business owners, Hashim and Frank brought new perspectives, culture, and flavor to a little mountain town. But perhaps more importantly, they brought compassion and connection to a community when we needed (and still need) it most.

The Past The immigration story of the Badr family is a string of pearls. Hashim still has a ‘40s-era letter from an uncle in Boston addressed to his father in what was then Palestine. It was this uncle who sponsored the Badrs’ father to emigrate in 1949. Hashim followed in 1963, and Frank and their other siblings—Seham, Nohal, and Sam—around 1970. Once they arrived in the States, the brothers set tender roots in the Southeast. Hashim found work as a quality control lab tech at Cryovac (now part of Sealed Air Corporation) in Simpsonville, near Greenville, South Carolina. The company encouraged him to attend college, and he took classes at Clemson University while working full-time. When Hashim became less interested in the competitive chemical engineering field, he decided to pursue pharmacy instead. Cryovac granted him a leave of absence while he undertook his doctor of pharmacy at the University of Georgia. Meanwhile, Frank had settled in Greenville, too, and was working at a cousin’s clothing store. In 1974 the cousin decided to open a second location of Breakaway Boutique at the new Asheville Mall, and Frank became the manager—and the first of the Badrs in Asheville. Hashim followed in 1976 when he landed an internship, and then full-time employment, with the drugstore chain Eckerd. In 1981 he February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 77

Old family photos of the start of the Pharmacy.


was tapped to manage the pharmacy’s downtown location at 31 Patton Avenue. It may have been the Asheville Mall that first brought the Badrs to Western North Carolina, but it was also the mall that indirectly influenced their first venture into local entrepreneurship. As was the case in so many small cities of the early ‘80s, the mall drew customers and traffic away from downtown and into its more suburban centers, causing old school mainstays—including Eckerd, which had been at its Patton Avenue location for 50 years—to shutter operations. Despite the inauspicious outlook of downtown Asheville’s business district—and 78

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arguably, the pull of fate—the close of one pharmacy prompted Hashim to open his own. “When they closed in ‘82, I said, ‘I want to open a pharmacy,’” he says, recalling how Eckerd’s customers, many of whom were second or third generation patrons, bemoaned the loss of the downtown institution. “[My boss] said, ‘You have two children and a good salary.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but by the time they grow, if my business is successful, I could take care of them better than just this salary.’ He said, ‘Good luck!’” Hashim presents this decades old send-off with a raise of his hands, conveying his boss’ skepticism across the years. But that skepticism, it turns out, was favorably misplaced. Hashim, with a baby at home and another on the way, opened Asheville Discount Pharmacy at 57 Haywood Street in 1982. When he did so, he joined a small rank of dewy business owners just crazy enough to set up shop downtown, including his new neighbors at Malaprops, Bloomin’ Art, and Gentleman’s Gallery. Downtown rents were nominal (Hashim’s was just $400), which neutralized the neighborhood’s tumbleweed-quiet traffic—and actually helped establish what are some of the area’s most long-standing and beloved businesses. When rents rose at the Asheville Mall (a common theme for the Badrs), Frank closed the boutique and joined his brother downtown at the pharmacy. But, true to that little brother tableau, he craved his own opportunity—which came in the early ‘90s, when he was given the chance to rent a space, 78 Patton Avenue, for just $350. Frank considered opening a beauty salon (“I didn’t know anything about the beauty salons!” he laughs), but landed, instead, on a simple sandwich shop modeled after the delis of New York.

“I used to travel to New York, and I saw their delis and good food and the reuben and rye bread. So, really, I was impressed at that time, but I never had any idea how to open [my own],” he remembers. That didn’t stop him from doing it. In 1994 Frank, with the help of his sister, Nohal, and Hashim’s wife, Kathy, opened Superette, selling sandwiches like those northern delis and preparing traditional Middle

As might be expected, the brothers have taken different measures to counter the latest challenges posed by the maturation and burgeoning growth of downtown. Eastern dishes like tabbouleh, hummus, and baba ghanoush, as well as selling imported spices, rugs, and jewelry. The business quickly adapted and evolved to suit its customers. “The hippie people would pass by, seriously…” Kathy pauses to nod against a laugh as she describes the early days of Superette and explains the diners’ unique requests: “I never knew there was a hummus and tabbouleh

sandwich!” She learned to put hummus on sandwiches and deli meats in pita pockets, and the local community learned to love these new flavors that were foreign to Asheville palates. Nohal returned to the Holy Land and Kathy transitioned to work with Hashim at the pharmacy, but the business continued to grow. By the early 2000s, both Asheville Discount Pharmacy and Superette were downtown mainstays with foundations strong enough to weather transitions. In 2001 Hashim moved the pharmacy to a new location with high ceilings and historic charm at 76 Patton Avenue. Yes, right next door to Frank. Soon thereafter, Frank decided to turn the deli into a full-fledged restaurant, and Jerusalem Garden was born. With an expansive menu of refashioned Middle Eastern dishes and a stunning, crimson tent imported from Egypt, Frank’s updated concept continued to bring new flavors to Asheville—and more work. “Then you have to have dishwashers, waitstaff, host. And really the headache started, to be honest with you,” he says, smiling, as he leans back in his chair. The problems that the Badrs faced upon first opening their businesses downtown decades ago have paradoxically reversed: Where before there was too little traffic, today there is too much. In the past, Asheville’s palates craved Americanized adaptations; nowadays, they hunger for authentic dishes. Rents are rising downtown, pushing businesses back out to those suburban February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 79

peripheries, as corporate chains compete for real estate in the desirable neighborhood. As might be expected, the brothers have taken different measures to counter the latest challenges posed by the maturation and burgeoning growth of downtown: Hashim, steady consistency; Frank, adaptive evolution.

The Present: Asheville Discount Pharmacy Asheville Discount Pharmacy is a family business in every sense of the word, and it is in this that their continued success lies. It is still owned and managed by the Badr family: Hashim, Kathy, and their youngest daughter, Nur Edwards, who became the business’ second pharmacist in 2015 and is set to take over the business when Hashim someday retires. The employees are like family, too, receiving guidance and the occasional meal from their bosses. “We don’t have a lot of turnover, and that speaks for itself. We look out for each other,” Nur says. “You don’t have that big work environment where we have some fancy Christmas party, but someone’s always feeding us. My mom and dad really are the parents to everyone.” And then there are the customers, who get greeted almost invariably with recognition and genuineness. It feels clichéd to claim that a store’s customers are like family, but here, it rings true. Hashim recognizes most clients, greeting them by name and with his signature slow smile. “Some of my dad’s first customers that [we] have known since I was a baby have been our customers long enough to meet my kids. And I feel like you just don’t get to make lifelong connections at most jobs, so it’s pretty special to me,” Nur attests. 80

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The Badrs actually care for their customers like family, exhibiting the type of compassion that, in 2020, can seem increasingly abandoned by the American medical establishment and the insurance industry. Hashim recalls a recent customer who couldn’t afford her medication: “She walked in, dressed up, you could say she was upper middle class, and she’s crying… looks [are] deceiving,” he says. When she came to pick up her prescription, Hashim waived her payment. “Do I regret it? No. If I saved her life, God bless her.” In part because of the business’ location in the heart of downtown, Asheville Discount Pharmacy also caters frequently to homeless and mental health populations, and here, their genuine generosity is once again evident. Sometimes these customers have Medicaid or Medicare, or use other local systems for help, but oftentimes, even with assistance, they don’t have enough money for their co-pay. “Their co-pays can be under $8, but sometimes when you’re homeless, you don’t have $8,” Nur says. “We’re required to bill them for their medications. So if they don’t have money, we still put it on an account, and then we request for a certain amount of time that they make a payment on that account. But if they don’t have money, then we do our best to provide it to them.” Because they’re a family-owned business as opposed to a piece of a corporate enterprise, the Badrs have the flexibility to choose this path, which is restricted to most pharmacists. “It’s hard, because a lot of times you’re not in any position to make that decision, especially if you’re in a corporate setting, or even if you’re not, but you don’t have that level of responsibility,” Nur explains. “It seems like a silly barrier when someone’s copay is $1.25. So many people have come together to get you to this point: You’ve received medical care,


February 2020 | capitalatplay.com


you’ve gotten to the pharmacy, and so in that situation, it’s kind of hard to just say, ‘No.’” And so, they say, “Yes,” providing medications to a population that, while they truly need the prescriptions, would otherwise not be in a position to receive them. In the spirit of karma and kindness, Hashim attributes much of the business’ success to this benevolence. “I preach this because what you do comes back to you,” he explains, palms open, his smile playing at the corners of his lips. “If you go and be nice to people, I think almighty God will help you. Maybe it’s not coming to you directly or the same day, but you can eventually see it.” Whereas the majority of businesses downtown, particularly breweries and restaurants, pay penance to the fickle dictates of tourists, Asheville Discount Pharmacy continues to build on their longstanding customer base instead. “We have good walk-in traffic, like we sell something they need, especially the tourists. But most of our business comes from the local community—the steady customers we have,” says Hashim, noting that while profits may vacillate nominally from month to month, the big picture doesn’t really fluctuate. “We have a stable business and we appeal to everyone: social services, walk-in traffic, local community downtown. We sometimes even draw people from Fletcher, Arden, [and] Candler.” That’s not to say tourism hasn’t impacted the business at all; the lack of parking, for example, has proved to be a particularly

Delivering superior customer service and reliable consistency across the decades have proved (and still prove) fruitful. frustrating challenge as parking decks and metered spots fill up daily. Convenience and efficiency are increasingly important to customers, and that’s an area where the Badrs find it hard to compete. “Some stores, like the chains, have turned pharmacy into fast food. If you can just go through a drive-thru, why would you come fight for parking if we’re not going to offer something?” says Nur. That “something” is old-fashioned service, but it’s also competitive pricing. When it comes to insurance, Asheville Discount Pharmacy can’t compete with the big guys (even the big guys can’t compete with the big guys, Hashim points out, using the CVS buyout of Target’s pharmacies as an example). In fact, it’s the red tape and endless tasks required by insurance companies that are the greatest plague on the Badrs. But for the uninsured, the business offers a welcome reprieve from soaring pharmaceutical prices. “We could save people money who don’t have insurance, sometimes a big savings, 20 percent or more,” Hashim says. “We have a small store, so we have less overhead than the big stores, the anchor 82

| February 2020

KATHY STOCKING shelves in the pharmacy.

THEY CONSIDER their employees as like family.

HAVING THE BUSINESSES beside each other means crossover. Here Hashim speaks with diners at the restaurant.

stores. That helps us to give a lower price.” That discount, along with know-your-name level service, woos customers to the pharmacy. Since 1982, this tactic has promised Hashim success, and it’s Nur’s approach, too. The pharmacy has adapted to evolutions of the industry, of course—they recently began offering immunizations and medication management, such as consultations and blister packing, and Hashim’s long considered adding veterinary compounding to their services (installation would be expensive and regulations abound, but since it’s all uninsured, it could be a profitable venture). But the business operates largely the same today as it did when downtown’s landscape was drastically different. Delivering superior customer service and reliable consistency across the decades have proved (and still prove) fruitful. “Mostly you have to stick to it and be nice, treat people with kindess, and they’ll continue to support you,” Hashim smiles.

The Present: Jerusalem Garden In Japan, where chronic earthquakes are a dangerous nuisance, engineers have developed so-called “levitating foundations.” When the earth moves, the foundation holds firm even as it allows the superstructure above to shake, move, and adapt to the sudden shifts in physics. It’s an apt metaphor for Frank Badr’s Jerusalem Garden.

Where Hashim has built a sturdy foundation of constancy, Frank’s business is fleet-footed and adaptive. That’s largely because of the capricious nature of restauranteering; eateries, concepts, and even ingredients are hot, then they’re not, the epicures’ passions cooling faster than a skewered kabob. To stay au courant, restaurants have to adapt, and fast. In Asheville it’s not just that the restaurant scene has changed since Frank opened Superette in the ‘90s—it’s that it was born. “It wasn’t much restaurants at the time, but now on every corner there is a restaurant,” Frank gesticulates. “And the culinary aspect, I believe we have good, good chefs, good people who are working.” Since he first opened his deli, and even since he transitioned to Jerusalem Garden nearly 20 years ago, Asheville has been flooded with James Beard-nominated chefs and adventurous cooks behind restaurants plating a wide spectrum of flavors that go far beyond Appalachian vittles. That’s increased the influx of epicurean tourists, particularly downtown, that has helped buoy businesses like Jerusalem Garden. While the city’s expansive culinary scene has undoubtedly brought a boom to the economy and proprietors like Frank, it has also brought with it a series of new challenges. Like so many restaurateurs, he laments the shortage of experienced and dedicated kitchen help: “Asheville is lacking the ones who could be assistants to the chefs, who could be line cooks, the prep people, who can take the chef’s ideas and apply them,” he says. Here, Frank does wish for consistency, where line February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 83

cooks and servers can implement the visions of the chefs and restaurateurs every time. “Honestly, I can say it: In my mind and in my heart, I believe every restaurant in downtown Asheville is suffering from the [shortage of] professional help. And it is not a secret to tell you that.” Coupled with the rise of expenses—not just rent, but the rising costs of food, supplies, salaries—and an increasingly competitive field as more and more restaurants open downtown, and everyone is faced with the near insurmountable challenge of offering the experience they pride while maintaining a living. At Jerusalem Garden, that experience is delivered via its dishes, ambiance, and its chummy approach to customers. Like his brother, Frank operates Jerusalem Garden as a distinctly family business, pouring his heart into his recipes, service, and his employees. “I don’t consider [that] the employees are working for me—they are working with me,” he says. “And I trust them and I believe in them. When somebody leaves, I am affected by that.” But unlike Hashim, Frank doesn’t plan to pass his business on to the next generation. “The restaurant profession, it is nice. You cook with your taste and you cook with your eyes. And sometimes you could make people happy when they eat their meal,” he says when asked why his sons, currently 12 and seven, aren’t necessarily in his business plan. “But it is a very, very 84

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draining, hard business. Mentally, physically, it is very tough to survive in business if you are a perfectionist.” And so, Frank adapts even while operating within the valued tenets of his family business. As always, the menu at Jerusalem Garden is a veritable melting pot in the truest sense of the word. The menu places Middle Eastern dishes alongside American classics, particularly at brunch, where you could order a plate of biscuits & gravy or shakshuka with pita, hummus, and poached eggs, drizzled with an herby tomato sauce. Everything is made from scratch and adheres to the demanding tastes of Frank, his wife Sonia (“Sonia is really good at recipes—not [just] because she’s my wife—and desserts. She is daaarn good,” Frank grins), and Chef Chris. While dedicated customers have developed favorites, Frank also recognizes that the menu needs to evolve, and he’ll unveil its latest iteration come this spring. The Middle Eastern dishes will remain, joined by new North African recipes served in clay tajines. Over the years, Frank’s business has been consistent only in his evolution, as he shifted the menu, added belly dancing, and shifted the menu again. “We’re trying every year to go a notch or a step higher. Hopefully, you’ll keep moving, you know what I mean? Just like in exercise. You exercise your physical

THE BACK ROOM of Jerusalem Garden features a tent from Egypt. February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 85

body to stay fit, and the restaurant, you gotta keep it moving,” he says, with a smile. And that’s what he plans to keep doing. “How do we know in 15, 20, years what will happen? Is food gonna be delivered to the homes? Is fast food gonna flourish and going to be mostly delivery? I really don’t know… But I think the smart person, he doesn’t have to be a scientist, but he’s gonna read and understand the trend and sort of vibe with it. Adapt. You must adapt to the trend. So here, I’m going to try to adapt.”

The Future: It’s All About Community As fun as it is to point to their predestined roles as brothers in explaining their approach to business, the truth is that both Hashim and Farouk Badr provide exactly what their customers need, the way they want it. In pharmacy, it’s medicine delivered without frills, but with genuine connection and compassion; in dining, it’s good food made fast and offered with a smile. The brothers are both well-suited for their industries, but it’s just as likely that their jobs made them as it is that they made their jobs. While their careers pose a chicken-or-egg style puzzle, their prioritization of community is instead of that path-less-taken


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ilk. In the midst of the 21st century’s hustle-bustle and hyper-connectivity, it feels a little wholesome to present an unwavering dedication to sincerity and service as the secret to success, but both brothers do just that. It’s an approach that’s increasingly against the grain, but in fact all the Badrs, including Kathy and Nur, pose community as their top priority. It’s how Hashim answers when asked about establishing the business, his marketing plans, why his daughters returned to Asheville (all three are recognizable figures in the Asheville business landscape), and even retaining the venture’s independence in the face of corporate buy-outs. When one of these corps called and asked to make Hashim an offer he couldn’t refuse, he refused to even hear it. “I said, ‘Community’s worth a lot more than you offer me. So I’m not going to even start.’ So up to this minute, I never have entertained an offer, and I have no interest. If we all cut and run, then we have no community.” And now the Badrs are turning to their beloved community to strike the chord of another concept on which they all agree: balance. Like so many local business owners, they recognize the perils of the unfettered growth of downtown. They’ve watched as family businesses like their own have collapsed under the rise of rents and real estate in the neighborhood. But the Badrs

don’t fear the arrival of corporate interests so much as unchecked greed, and they aren’t calling for regulation, just a reprioritization of harmony, and a commitment to cultivating conscious, mindful growth in Asheville.

“You have to give to the community. It doesn’t matter who you are or how much you make; you have to give to the community.” “We need balance. How do we do this? Maybe all the community needs to get involved,” says Hashim. They’re turning to the community they’ve helped cultivate to now help entrepreneurial businesses like theirs continue to survive in an ever-changing field. The Badrs have always acted against the presumptions of fate, most recently marked by their decision to continue to

operate in a marketplace that seems to be rapidly shifting against businesses like theirs. But, as always, their success lies in that narrowing path of prioritizing other people. “It’s good you have your own business because you don’t have a boss, and at the same time, you can contribute to the community without asking the permission of somebody else,” Hashim says, emphatically. “You have to give to the community. It doesn’t matter who you are or how much you make; you have to give to the community.” When asked of his secret to success, Frank’s answer is the same: “I believe success is how you understand and care for people.” Perhaps it’s a concept best explained with a simpler, monosyllabic notion: home. After traveling across continents and through the decades, the Badrs have vested their hearts and interests in the people and places of Western North Carolina. Hashim puts it this way: “I don’t think of any other place besides [Asheville] for home.” And that explains it all.


brick-stack.com / 828.545.4233 / asheville -


February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 87

People Play at









1. Yaselin Gonzalez & Kelly Foster 2. JaLisha Richmond & Garrett Bibbs 3. Kathi Peterson & Angie Chandler 4. Chris Grasinger & Audra Gaizunas


| February 2020

5. Boomer Sassman & Jill Sparks 6. David Bluth & Jill Kichefski 7. Jess Gupton, Ingrid Sander, Vanessa Garcia, Zurilma Anuel, Vanessa Corral, & Kareen Boncales

8. Danya Raker & Patrick Harper 9. Kareen Boncales, Anthony Thomas, & Moriah Heaney

Mountain BizWorks 30th Anniversary Celebration Center for Craft | Asheville, NC | December 18, 2019 Photos by Kareen Boncales 9







10. Incoming Exec. Director Matt Raker & Mark Sternal 11. Sophia Paulos 12. Megan Waldkoetter & Austin Tiller  


13. Vanessa Corral & Zurilma Anue 14. Eron Thiele, Christy Hemenway, & Rebecca Crandall 15. Outgoing Exec. Director Patrick

Fitzsimmons addresses the group. 16. Audra Gaizunas, Ralph Griffith, & Boomer Sassman

February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 89




insights on the history, symbolism, and techniques as you make your own. Some materials are BYO or available for an extra charge.

> Registration: Museum Member $80, Nonmember $90

> Registration: $25, or free by raising

> 828-253-3227 > ashevilleart.org

february 1

How to Value a Business

9AM-12PM A-B Tech Small Business Center 1465 Sand Hill Rd, Candler, NC

Attendees will learn at this free workshop one method of determining their business’ value and get ideas “beyond the obvious” for increasing it.

> 828-271-4786 > asheville.score.org february 1

Barn Quilts in Appalachia

10AM-3:30PM Asheville Art Museum 2 South Pack Square, Asheville, NC

Barn quilts are actually wood paintings that look like pieced-together cloth. Instructor Kourtney Yelton will share

Subtitled “Kids In the Creek” (it’s a benefit for that org’s environmental education programs), one can only imagine the immersion’s resulting shivers—from both the kids and their parents. Prizes awarded for the best costumes, too.


> 828-476-4667 > haywoodwaterways.org

february 1

Homer’s The Odyssey 8-9:30PM Wortham Center 18 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC The Aquila Theatre, praised for its iconoclastic energy, interprets the ancient adventurous tale of a hero battling gods and nature to return home.

>Tickets: Adult $40, Child $20 > 828-257-4530 > dwtheatre.com february 1

8th Annual Polar Plunge


Champion Credit Union Aquatic Center 77 Penland St, Canton, NC

february 3

First Mondays Concert Series


Brevard College – Porter Center 1 Brevard College Dr, Brevard, NC After the usual January hiatus, the free afternoon mini-concerts are back, starting with piano and oboe. Each program raises awareness for a local charity.

> 828-862-2100 > brevardmusic.org february 6

AM Foundations Business Planning Class

Field trips, workshops and general sessions focusing on flora of the southeast!


July 22-25, 2020 nativeplants.wcu.edu | February 2020

9AM-12PM Mountain BizWorks 153 South Lexington Ave, Asheville NC

10-11AM Mountain BizWorks Training Room 153 South Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC

Instructor Melody Isis Herman will provide an intuitive overview of financials and marketing. This is the first class in a seven-week commitment. Scholarships are available on a limited basis.

Learn what resources Mountain BizWorks makes available for entrepreneurs. Many of the areas most succesful small businesses got their start with Mountain BizWorks, see how they can help you. Free, but preregistration is required.

>Tuition: $375 > 828-253-2834 > mountainbizworks.org february 6

Omer String Quartet

7:30-9:30PM Tryon Fine Arts Center 34 Melrose Ave, Tryon, NC

The youthful artists present vibrant and interactive programming. Season subscriptions are $110, but single tickets may become available. Call for pricing.

> 828-859-8322 > tryonconcerts.org/season-2/ february 7

> 828-253-2834 > mountainbizworks.org/event february 7

Spring Awakening Reception 5-8PM Asheville Gallery of Art 82 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC

The works of Lisa Sousa, Terrilynn Dubreuil, and Alison Webb, all new to the gallery, evoke emotions of spring. The free show runs for the full month of February.

> 828-251-5796 > ashevillegallery-of-art.com

Mountain BizWorks Orientation

february 7

Pruning Workshop

1-2:30PM Bullington Gardens 95 Upper Red Oak Trl, Hendersonville, NC John Murphy will show how to maintain healthy ornamentals for an inviting and engaging storefront or your own quiet place. These classes get full quick, so sign up today!

> Reservations: $15 > 828-698-6104 > bullingtongardens.org february 7

Funny & Bare! Burlesque 8PM Magnetic Theatre 375 Depot St, Asheville, NC

Deb au Nare presents classic burlesque and comedy featuring headlining stars May Hemmer and Evelyn Vinyl and hosted by "The Glittering Guffaw.”

>Tickets: $30 > debaunare.com/funnyandbare

37th Annual Cullowhee Native Plant Conference Held annually on the campus of Western Carolina University, the purpose of the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference is to increase interest in and knowledge of propagating and preserving native southeastern plant species in the landscape. Featuring: • Small group field trips • Hands-on workshops • Plenary and concurrent sessions • More than a dozen plant vendors • On-campus accomodation and meal packages • Great food, fun and networking! Whether you are a professional landscaper or just want to learn more about native plants of the southeast, this conference has something for everyone! Visit nativeplants.wcu.edu or call 828-227-7397 for more information and to register.

February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 91


february 8

Homestead Dreams

10AM-5PM Creekside Farms Education Center 339 Avery Creek Rd, Arden, NC Whether you’re a full-blown homesteader or homesteading is just a twinkle in your eye, the instructors will share tips for living more self-sufficiently in any living arrangement, on any budget.

> Admission: $65 > 828-214-7833 > organicgrowersschool.org february 8

Katherine C Morosani


Financial Advisor

1185 Charlotte Highway Suite I Fairview, NC 28730 828-628-1546

edwardjones.com Member SIPC

Calexico/Iron & Wine

8PM Orange Peel: 101 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC This Tucson-Durham collaborative project brings together two internationally-acclaimed Americana groups; their Cold Mountain Music Festival appearance last June at Lake Logan was one of the event’s most-celebrated performances. Years to Burn is their current release.

>Tickets: $39.50-$45 > 828-398-1837 > theorangepeel.net february 10

Chopin Project Concert Series: An Evening of Chopin’s Rarities and Favorites

No other outdoor cooker can match the quality and versatility of a Big Green Egg. Grilling, Roasting, Baking or Smoking it truly is The Ultimate Cooking Experience!®

136 Weaver Blvd, Weaverville, NC 28787 ✆828.645.8811 1888 Hendersonville Rd, Asheville, NC 28803 ✆828.676.0047 3340 Boylston Hwy, Mills River, NC 28759 ✆828.891.4545 812 Merrimon Ave, Asheville, NC 28804 ✆828.505.3672 10 Westridge Market Pl, Candler, NC 28715 ✆828.527.6468


| February 2020

7:30-9PM Asheville First Presbyterian Church 40 Church St, Asheville, NC

The intense and internationally-celebrated Arthur Greene takes on the genius of challenging composition. A solo pianist performing many of Chopin’s best works.

>Tickets: $35 > 813-966-1966 > chopinproject.com february 11

Durand Jones & the Indications

8PM The Grey Eagle: 185 Clingman Avenue, Asheville, NC Jones, with his stellar pipes and band, is promoting 2019’s soul/funk epic American Love Call. Meet & Greet for VIP tickets beforehand features a brief private performance.

>Tickets: GA $15-$18, VIP $75 > 828-232-5800 > thegreyeagle.com february 12

Supper Series: Mangia Abruzzo!

6:30-8:30PM Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen: 1854 Brevard Rd, Arden, NC Chefs Jill Wasilewski and Susie Sharples cook authentic, homestyle Italian with homemade pasta and ricotta and whole fish. This continues their Family Meal series, where diners enjoy 4 courses paired with wine, cider, or beer.

> Reservations: Dinner $45, Dinner & Wine $65 > 828-676-3870 > ivoryroadavl.com february 14 -17

Presidents’ Day Family Weekend

"A company with integrity and dedicated to its customers' satisfaction." -Angela P., Real SCW Customer!

Appalachian Ski Mountain 940 Ski Mountain Rd, Blowing Rock, NC

Days off are a great excuse to spend quality time with the family. Do it right with snow and ice, 2-for-1 deals, extended hours, and more.

> 828-295-7828 > appskimtn.com february 14 & 15

Flamenco Vivo avec Carlota Santana 8-10PM Wortham Center: 18 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC

Santana is celebrated for her authenticity and precision in the passionate art form. A community master class and a pre-show will be held February 14 on-premises.

>Tickets: VIP $65, Adult $48, Student $43, Child $20 > 828-257-4530 > dwtheatre.com

828-604-6172 www.getscw.com scwcameras

February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 93


february 14 & 15

Umphrey’s McGee

8PM Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville 87 Haywood St, Asheville, NC

After 20 years together, and 11 albums, this band plays like a unpredictable set. A variation of blues, acoustic, guitar forward, drum focused, and everything in between. Expect a mix of their newer hits and old time favorites.

>Ticket prices fluctuate, and two-day passes are available. > 828-259-5736 > harrahscherokeecenterasheville.com

february 16

The 28th Annual Frostbite Races

Beech Mountain Retro ’80s Weekend

With races at 5k, 10k, and 1-mile there is something for all levels. Not a runner? There will be a family fun event at the center with music, games, and other booths. Races start at 1:45PM. Register before February 10th, receive a finishing medal.

Hair was big, skiwear was dayglo, music was loud but still melodic, and life was fun. Throw back in the snowy mountains with friends.

12:30 - 4:30 PM Lelia Patterson Center, 1111 Howard Gap Rd, Fletcher, NC

> Registration: $45 and below > runsignup.com/FrostbiteRaces

Asheville Celtic Festival

10AM-10PM WNC Agricultural Center 1301 Fanning Bridge Rd, Fletcher NC Characters and attendees in period dress return to the 1700s, with kilts, pipes, jousting, turkey legs, and who knows what. Special packages are available.

>Tickets: Advance $12.50, Door $20 > 704-737-0109 > wncagcenter.org

Beech Mountain Resort 1007 Beech Mountain Pwy, Beech Mountain, NC

> 800-438-2093 > beechmountainresort.com/event/retro80s-weekend/

february 21-23

february 17

february 15

february 21-24

Gordon Lightfoot: 80 Years Strong Tour

8-9:30PM Thomas Wolfe Auditorium 87 Haywood St, Asheville, NC

Rescheduled from October, the voice of 20th-century Gold, like “If You Could Read My Mind” and “Rainy Day People,” apparently still has it.

>Tickets: $27-$97 > 828-259-5736 > harrahscherokeecenterasheville.com

The 33rd National Arts & Crafts Conference Omni Grove Park Inn 290 Macon Ave, Asheville, NC

You can attend 6 seminars, daily discussions, demonstrations, special education exhibits, and more. Workshops in coppersmithing, print making, metal art, and embroidery will be available. By Friday afternoon there will be 115 exhibitors ranging from art dealers to antiques set up for visiting.

> arts-craftsconference.com february 21

february 16

4 Seasons Orchestra performs Winter: Compassion 3-5PM Grace Lutheran Church 1245 6th Ave West, Hendersonville, NC The concert, with selections like a fantasia on a theme by Tallis, shares the stage with a fundraiser for Four Seasons Hospice Care.

> Admission: $10 > 828-490-7119 > 4seasonsorchestra.org 94

| February 2020

february 19

Energy Efficiency for Everyone

1-3:30PM Lenoir-Rhyne, Asheville campus 36 Montford Av, Asheville, NC The Green Built Alliance presents its 2020 free workshop with support from the Blue Horizons Project and LenoirRhyne University. Topics include how to make homes more energy-efficient and how to pay for it all.

> 828-254-1995 > greenbuilt.org

Eric Gales Live in High Gravity

7-8:30PM Sierra Nevada Brewery 100 Sierra Nevada Way, Mills River, NC The widely-acclaimed, big-label, lefthanded (and therefore upside-down) guitarist plays the blues, mesmerizing even Mick Jagger and BB King.

>Tickets: Advance $20, Door $25 > 828-681-5300 > sierranevada.com

For Those Who Seek The Exceptional Life. february 22

New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players

7:30-9:30PM Tryon Fine Arts Center 34 Melrose Avenue, Tryon

The award-winning repertory company pays tribute with “I’ve Got a Little Twist.”

> Admission: Standard $35,

Premium $40 > 828-859-8322 > tryonarts.org/gilbert-sullivan/

february 23

Asheville Mardi Gras 2020 Parade and Queen’s Ball

3:05PM South Slope, Asheville, NC

A fun family friendly event, Asheville’s Mardi Gras Parade is a specticle of costume, music, and fun. This year’s theme is “Supersition”. The parade will be marching all through Slouth Slope with the Ball to be held at Funkatorium afterwards.

> ashevillemardigras.org/parade-andqueens-ball

25 Sheep Pasture Lane, Fletcher NC - ID 3538585 - $2,100,000

february 24 & 25

Yamato: The Drummers of Japan 7-8:30PM Wortham Center 18 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC

They’ve got rhythm, tradition, costumes, choreography, and lighting effects. Performing this high energy drumming in the Taiko tradition, this group travels all around the world, to share their art.

Marilyn Wright, CLHMS Global Real Estate Advisor 2018 Top Producer Premier Sotheby’s Asheville Agent Top Ten Agent in Asheville

>Tickets: Adult $48, Student $43, Child $20

10 Brooks Street Suite 130 Asheville NC 28803 828.279.3980 | Ashevillerealtormwright@gmail.com February 2020 | capitalatplay.com



> 828-257-4530 > dwtheatre.com

february 29

Business Model Canvas Workshop

february 25

Matthew Manwarren Plays Schubert

7:30PM Bo Thomas Auditorium, BRCC 180 W Campus Dr, Flat Rock, Nc As part of the Blue Ridge Community College Concert Series, the celebrated pianist will perform an all-Schubert program, featuring the “Four Impromptus,” “Op. 90,” and the “B-flat Major Sonata, D. 960.”

>Tickets: $10 (Students: $5) > 828-694-1742 > blueridge.edu

– march 1 NRC Glacier Breaker february 29

Nantahala Outdoor Center 13077 West Hwy 19, Bryson City, NC The Nantahala Racing Club hosts slalom and downriver races for people of all ages and abilities. Races start at noon.

> Registration: $30 > 828-785-5082 > noc.com/events/nrc-glacier-breaker/ february 29

Open Doors Art Affair 2020 6:30PM The Venue Asheville 21 North Market St, Asheville, NC At least 25 fine artists are donating pieces to raise funds for children growing up in multigenerational poverty. Last year’s gala raised $210,000.

> 828-239-8811 > opendoorsasheville.org 96

| February 2020

9AM-12PM A-B Tech Small Business Center 1465 Sand Hill Rd, Candler, NC

Students will learn the latest technique for effectively evaluating new ideas, as well as existing paradigms and protocols. Free, but registration is recommended.

> 828-271-4786 > asheville.score.org february 29

Brew Horizons Beer Fest 2-6PM Harrah’s Cherokee Center 87 Haywood St, Asheville, NC

Winter craft beer fest from nonprofit Green Built Alliance (fall’s CiderFest NC; benefits Blue Horizons Project community clean energy campaign. Food, arts, and crafts vendors, plus live music.

>Tickets: GA $46; VIT (Very

Important Tasters) $62; DD (Designated Driver): $18 > brewhorizonsbeerfest.com

march 6 - 8

Organic Growers School – Spring Conference

Mars Hill University 100 Athletic St, Mars Hill, NC

With over 150 classes, organizers strive to bring growers the ideas and training they need to take their game to the next level, regardless of niche and/or experience. Pre-registration is required for Saturday and Sunday workshops, but not for Friday activities.

> Price Varies: ($5-$195). > 828-680-0661 > organicgrowersschool.org march 7

Asheville Doll Show

9:30AM-3PM WNC Agricultural Center 1301 Fanning Bridge Rd, Fletcher, NC The show brings a broad collection, big and small, young and old, ancient and modern, cute and precocious, snazzy and frumpy, …

> Admission: $8 > 828-552-4604 > ashevilledollshow.com

march 3

Chamber Music Tuesdays Concert Series

12:30-1:30PM First United Methodist Church 204 Sixth Ave W, Hendersonville, NC The free series, brought to you by the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra and the Brevard Music Center, resumes with the Michael Dease Trio.

> 828-862-2120 > brevardmusic.org/about/ccs/

If your organization has any local press releases for our briefs section, or events that you would like to see here, feel free to email us at events@capitalatplay.com. Please submit your event at least six weeks in advance.

We Would Love To Make A Difference For You! • Help you articulate and formalize your goals

• Help keep you on track and feeling confident

• Prepare your retirement plan

• Guide you on how to be invested within your employer’s retirement plan

• Suggest ways to increase your income in retirement

828.274.7844 | info@wofm.us | www.WhiteOakFinancialManagement.com Every Investment Strategy Has The Potential For Profit Or Loss.

February 2020 | capitalatplay.com 97

Visit Now to Discover the Carolina Day School Advantage Independent ⁓ Co-ed PK3-12


• High academic standards with emphasis on critical thinking skills

• Close mentoring connection between faculty and students

• Co-educational exchange of ideas and intellectual perspectives

CarolinaDay.org ⁓ Asheville, North Carolina ⁓ A Tradition of Excellence Since 1908 | February 2020

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| February 2020

Profile for Capital at Play Magazine

Capital at Play February 2020  

Vol 10 | Ed 2 - Western North Carolina's Business Lifestyle Magazine - Featuring our 2019 Real Estate Report

Capital at Play February 2020  

Vol 10 | Ed 2 - Western North Carolina's Business Lifestyle Magazine - Featuring our 2019 Real Estate Report