The patron saint of variety stores

I’ve said it before, but this is my recurring soapbox: Downtown Asheville needs a variety store.

Yesterday afternoon I realized that what I really needed was a patron saint candle. St. Expedite, specifically, but my point is that after more than an hour searching downtown’s many gift and novelty shops, I came up empty handed.

People bemoan the passing of Vincent’s Ear; what I miss most is Dollar General. Vincent’s may have had ambiance, but when it came to flower pots, pot holders or patron saints, forget it.

Here’s what I did come across on my search:
• A magnetic dress-Jesus-in-drag kit
• Soy candles in every possible earthy-muted hue
• Arch-angel bracelets
• Carved African masks
• A grow-a-new-husband kit (not unlike Sea Monkeys)
• Enough Nag Champa to supply a small Indian village for a month

In Asheville you can get a Shiva or a Buddha statue as easy as snapping your fingers, but (despite the looming visage of the Basilica of Saint Lawrence) good luck finding a Papally approved deity.

Help me out. Where can I find a St. Expedite candle?  And (more importantly) what do you think downtown needs more than, say, another sushi bar?

—Alli Marshall, A&E reporter


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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall has lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. She 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

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11 thoughts on “The patron saint of variety stores

  1. Lynnora

    Did you try the Basilica’s gift shop? I seem to also recall some saint’s candles at French Broad Co-op. My philosophy is that if you can’t get it in downtown Asheville then you probably don’t need it to start with. Good luck with your search.

  2. Edythe

    Today, so many variety store items would have to be flown into the mountains that I can’t be certain it’s a worthy idea. So trendy! Perhaps you should propose it to the boutique hotel developers.

    Or when Staples closes….

  3. Dionysis

    “what do you think downtown needs more than, say, another sushi bar?”

    Many things come to mind that downtown needs, including portable showers for the many hygienically challenged that one encounters on a typical weekend.

  4. charles t

    i second that request for a Thunder-Dome. it would be a better tourist and local attraction than the Ellington, AND Tina Turner could fight with Brother christopher.

  5. sasquatch

    I could use a good all night falafel stand with a surly proprietor. Or a place to get a slice of pizza for less than $25 or however much a slice costs in this town.

    Santaria supplies including the candles can be found at Ingles and a couple of the Latin markets on Patton Avenue.

    I wouldn’t mind having an all purpose five and dime downtown either… with a staircase tucked away around the back that leads to a rusted door which, if you provide the secret knock, will open to the world’s most wondrous underground falafel stand, complete with tongue-dissolving hot sauce, requisite fire hazard-causing vats of boiling oil and a fleet of sublime falafel that float to your lips upon wings of spun gold.

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