A PERSONAL TOUCH: Local businesses around Asheville, such as Dancing Bear Toys (above), play an indispensible role in driving the area’s economy and lending the city its unique ambiance. Through a combination of hands on ingenuity, creative approaches and a strong sense of community, Asheville’s specialty shops and boutiques are a testament to the viability of independent, locally-owned businesses in a world of big box chains and internet megastores. Photo by Max Hunt.

Local businesses drive Asheville vibe

Walk any downtown Asheville street and you’re likely to encounter some quirky storefronts offering unusual products. Together, these “specialty shops” or boutiques, most of them locally owned businesses, are a key component of the city’s distinctive flavor, attracting thousands of tourists each year and helping fuel the economy.

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Asheville inches closer to police body camera rollout

The Asheville Police Department trails the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office in rolling out police body cameras — but the city is trying to catch up. Police Chief Tammy Hooper outlined a draft policy for the cameras at a recent panel discussion, and says the first cameras will be deployed by summer. We look into what needs to happen between now and then to make that schedule happen.

FOR THE LOVE OF BIKES: Asheville on Bikes' ninth annual Bike Love  event  Saturday will raise money for the nonprofit advocacy organization to work on bike-friendly policy changes. Above, a moment from last year's event. Photo by Pat Barcas

Asheville on Bikes rolls out Bike Love 2016

Who knew that heartbreak could be so good for the local cycling scene? Back in 2005, bike advocacy helped Mike Sule distract himself from the heartache of a tough breakup. Since then, however, Asheville on Bikes, the organization he subsequently founded, has become a well-known advocate on both local and state-level transportation issues. In support […]

FORWARD MARCH: Luella's Bar-B-Que co-owner Jeff Miller, pictured with wife and business partner Ashley Miller, says he's been scouting a second location since 2014. The new spot in Biltmore Park will replicate Luella's existing menu with a refreshed ambiance once it opens in March.

Small bites: Luella’s opens second location in South Asheville

Luella’s Bar-B-Que will duplicate its pork-purveying efforts with a new location in Biltmore Park; Asheville Wine & Food Festival has announced its first Asheville Cocktail Week; Local Provisions is serving Italian wines with the flavors of winter at a pairing dinner; and The Hop Ice Creamery is celebrating its first year with free kiddie scoops for all.