Shop until you drop

Photo by Zen Sutherland

There’s more to a festival than rock bands, misting tents, funnel cakes and sunburns. There’s shopping! And Bele Chere doesn’t just have a few booths; it’s lined with vendors from end to end, selling everything from lawn art and broomstick skirts to paper hats and leather jewelry. Whether you’re planning to knock out your holiday shopping in July or just pick up a little souvenir for yourself, it’s likely that Bele Chere has the perfect thing. (It’s perhaps even more likely that the perfect thing will be something you never knew you needed.)

While you’re browsing, look for these local vendors who also run shops and boutiques, year-round, in downtown Asheville:

• A Far Away Place — Gifts from around the world, as well as spiritual and metaphysical items ranging from books and incense to clothing and decor.

• AD LIB — “Clothing for real women in the real world” with an emphasis on comfort and style. Much of the apparel is made with natural fibers.

• Bella's — This eclectic boutique carries an array of home decor items, jewelry and handmade gifts.

• Charmed — This newly opened accessories boutique stocks cute and affordable hats, jewelry, bags, belts and more.

• Chevron Trading Post & Bead Co. — This is the place to shop for beads (obviously), as well as bead-craft tools and books, ready-made jewelry and gift items.

Cornerstone Minerals — Love gems and crystals? Here’s where to find them, along with fossils, decor and jewelry.

• Cosmic Vision — Shop here for imported clothing, scarves, hats and jewelry, as well as books and art from other cultures. Store at 34 N. Lexington Ave., 285-0073.

• Featherheads Emporium — This is the place to find Native American arts and crafts (carved pipes, flutes and drums), including pieces by Cherokee tribal members.
• Gaea Gifts — Wind chimes, T-shirts and gifts (many with an eco slant) can be found in this Lexington Avenue boutique.  61 N. Lexington Ave., 255-5553.

• Garage 34 — Supporting cottage industries and giving local artists and crafters a platform to showcase their unique items, shop for clothing, cards, ceramics, accessories, toys, knickknacks and more.

• Gentlemen's Gallery — This is the place for menswear (and a well-edited womenswear collection, too), including an array of ties and eyeglasses frames.

• Himalayas Import — This shop always smells of incense and offers up gifts, jewelry, spiritual items and more from the Himalayan countries.

• Hip Replacements — A Lexington Avenue mainstay, Hip Replacements sells vintage and vintage-reproduction apparel along with locally made accessories.

• Indo Apparel & Gifts — Here’s where you’ll find your festival wear, from patchwork pants to gauzy sun dresses. Also find stickers, hats, hip scarves and more.

• Instant Karma — As the name implies, the place is full of hippy trappings: tie-dye, posters, bumper stickers and clothing from India and Africa.

• Jujubee Clothing Co. — Bele Chere marks the first anniversary for this mother-daughter designed and owned apparel collection and boutique. 70 College St. 225-2952.

• Kress Emporium — Browse the wares of more than 80 regional artists and crafters who work in glass, wood, metal, jewelry, paper, paint and more.

• La Magia — This boutique carries hand-woven rugs, alpaca wool clothing, hats and folk art selected in Peru and sent back to Asheville.

• Mast General Store — The Asheville-based store has been open since the 1940s, selling outdoors-minded clothing, camping and hiking goods and fun, old-timey gifts (including candy).

• Minx — Local fashionistas have been shopping Minx for a decade. The boutique stocks trend-savvy apparel, bags, jewelry and belts (including some local designs).

• On A Roll — Here’s where you go to get your custom tees, bags and totes. You dream it up, they’ll print it up.

• Southern Expressions — It’s worth a stop by the actual store location: This tiny boutique is housed in a former shoe shine stand. Find dresses, accessories and southern-themed gifts. 7 1/2 Biltmore Ave., 258-3742.

• Spiritex — This clothier is known for sassy T-shirts with Asheville flair and in-house designed apparel in organic fibers.

• Susan Marie Designs — Earrings, necklaces, pendants and rings are all featured at this jewelry design studio and boutique.

• The Costume Shoppe — The name kind of says it all: costumes for every occasion, from Halloween to theme parties. You can also find accessories, theatrical makeup, masks, wigs, buttons, embellishments, tiaras and more.

• The Laughing Mermaid Soap Co. — You might know this shop by its sign: “Nosey people wanted” (wanted to smell their pretty-looking/pretty-scented soaps). There’s also a “Sudz for Studz” line, guys.

• The Spice & Tea Exchange — You never know when you might need an adobo seasoning blend, a green-chili sugar or a Bonita peach rooibus tea mixture. It all awaits you at this shop.

• Third World Tienda — A trip to Ecquador inspired this business that sells small-scale, cottage-industry goods like sweaters, hats, storybooks and embroidery.

• Tops For Shoes — Asheville’s favorite (and only) downtown footwear store carries TOMS Shoes among its many brands. Each Bele Chere, Tops teams with TOMS for a festival booth.

• ZaPow! — An illustrated-art gallery and artist development center, ZaPow’s display space is filled with themes of super heroes, super powers and the supernatural.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.