Two weekends ago, EJ and I wisked ourselves away from the hustle and bustle of Colatown and spent the weekend in the mountain oasis that is Asheville, North Carolina. This Burlington/Boulder-eque town is THE mountain retreat of the area.
There's no need for me to give you in-depth descriptions about the sights and eats that can be experienced, because the NYTimes does such a great job with its Travel section feature, 36 Hours in Asheville (yes, we ate at Table and it was awesome. So is Tupelo Honey and Salsas). But I would like to - surprise! - highlight the shopping to be done there.
If you have serious cash to burn there are a number of galleries where original, local art can be purchased. My favorite exhibits were at Blue Spiral 1 which is right across the street from Mast General Store (a store which gets a lot of press, but is rather touristy IMHO). There are also a lot of jewelry shops with a style of jewelry that I only know how to describe as mountainy. It's not hippie, because it's not cheap, but it's very arty.
The clothing shops, in general, are indeed hippie. Chunky sweaters, lots of embroidery, and funky cloth handbags. But when you're in the mountains, people, you embrace your inner hippie. Paul Taylor makes custom sandals and belts. Here's a shot of its window display - and yes, EJ was contemplating a belt.
On the outside, Tops for Shoes looks like a place your parents would shop for shoes (even the website looks like something your parents designed - dang, am I beating up on your parents or what?). But a gander on the inside reveals brands like Marc by Marc Jacobs and Pink Studio. In fact, the Tops Outlet section is the business! There are a couple pairs I spied that I am kicking myself for not purchasing, but that's what the next trip is for. Anyway, I was saving my duckets for a store that we finally found on Sunday - Moda.
Moda is located in Gerber Village, a 15-minute drive away from downtown Asheville. If you're driving away from the downtown area on Biltmore Avenue, it's a shopping center that's just off Hendersonville Road after the turn-off to Biltmore Estate (Biltmore Avenue basically becomes Hendersonville Road).
Moda is owned by a mother and daughter so the photos near the register are of fashionable family members. Lauren is the daughter whom we met when we went in. They carry fabulous, different looks that satisfy both people in their 20s/30s and those in their 40s/50s. It was nice to see that diversity - from all the stores in Asheville, really. Coming from a college town, the general theme of the stores here is decidedly 20s. The reason I was so hell-bent on getting to this store was because it was listed on the jeweler Emily Amey's website as a retailer of the line. Jewelry is one of those things that is tricky to buy online. Indeed Moda had a whole bunch of Emily Amey jewelry; I got the ring in the photo below, but there were actually a lot of cool pieces by a bunch of other designers to choose from as well. Other brands carried included Coclico shoes and Lilla P tops. Lauren's mother worked in retail for a number of years and you can tell with the pieces they sell. The moral of this story? Fashion can be found in Asheville, you just need to investigate slightly off of the beaten path.