The Downtown Marketplace announces impending closure at September’s end

Photo via Downtown Market Facebook page
Photo via Downtown Market Facebook page

Asheville’s Downtown Market has announced that it will be closing shop at the end of September after five years of business under its current ownership. Originally opened at 45 South French Broad Avenue in 2008, DTM was taken over by Lance Hardcastle and Susanne Watson in 2011 after the building was foreclosed upon. Hardcastle and Watson also own the Sly Grog Lounge, located in the same building, and were two of DTM’s vendors under the original owners.

Since 2011, Downtown Market has undergone several changes, hosting up to 120 separate vendors at one point. In 2014, the building was purchased by new ownership, and DTM floor space was cut from 10,000 square feet to 5,000 square feet, while Sly Grog’s floor space, offerings and hours of operation were expanded.

Known for its wide range of available vintage and craft items and support of local artist vendors, DTM’s Hardcastle and Watson say that declining sales numbers since 2014, coupled with rising commercial rents, have hampered attempts to move DTM to a new location. While Downtown Marketplace will close at the end of September, the Sly Grog Lounge will continue on in a new, larger location, to be announced later this year.

FOND FAREWELL: Downtown Market owners Lance Hardcastle and Suzanne Watson thank their vendors and customers for supporting the Downtown Market over the past five years. DTM will close at the end of September. Photo courtesy of Suzanne Watson
FOND FAREWELL: Downtown Market owners Lance Hardcastle and Suzanne Watson thank their vendors and customers for supporting the Downtown Market over the past five years. DTM will close at the end of September. Photo courtesy of Suzanne Watson

See the full press release from Hardcastle and Watson on Downtown Market’s impending closure below:

Dear Asheville,

After an amazing five years, we will be closing The Downtown Market at the end of September. Sly Grog Lounge, our private club and music venue will be moving to a larger location that will allow us to expand our music capacity and continue being the fun local hangout it has become in the last year. Stay tuned for more info on that! For the remainder of the summer and into September we will be having amazing sales and super bargains, so come down and say so long for now to The DTM!

We had all hoped that with new neighbors and added traffic to the building, our sales would increase. Unfortunately our sales have actually declined since 2014. We have found for various reasons that The DTM is no longer sustainable. Even in the last months, with added businesses up and running in our building, it has not made a dramatic impact.

We applaud the new businesses in the building and are excited for them. We are very glad to see that the up-fit and many revitalizing changes that the Ball family have made to 45 South French Broad have brought new life and economy to our neighborhood and Asheville. They have done a great job.

We have been looking for some time now for a new home. The exploded commercial rent market has made this difficult. Finding a space that has the right traffic for our business, parking, affordable rates and a space that does not require a huge amount of up-fit has proven to be challenging. We had hoped to move the DTM with Sly Grog Lounge. This has proven to be a huge undertaking and we have found no place to adequately house both.

After a lot of soul searching, we feel that we need a break. It has been extremely hard to give up on this enterprise with all of our vendors. It has inspired us in many ways. But common sense and energetic reality have spoken to us. We feel that with all of our loyal customers and vendors we have created a community, a loving and supportive family, and a small but meaningful economic impact on our local community. We have co-created a place where most have felt welcomed, relaxed and found joyful creativity.

We have had a lot of fun! Every day we hear how magical and amazing our store is, like no other they have come across. We appreciate how everyone has contributed to this magical environment as well as bearing with us through our move and other struggles. We will never regret having gone on this journey with you all.

Our story is one that reflects our local, national and even global economy. Our type of market, like others around town, reflects the local scene and flavor of Asheville. It has provided a much needed economic injection for many people who, in order to survive in our economy, need multiple income streams to live here. For most, this is just one small part of multiple ways to create an income.  At times, we have housed over 100 micro economies under our roof. It used to be that doing this type of selling was for either the veteran picker, antique dealer, festival vendor, fine crafter or the weekend hobbyist who enjoyed finding, making and selling. Now, many people find that it is one of the ways to generate income in a country with almost no safety nets for people and in a town with very few job options, let alone career opportunities.

We have been able to provide unique, beautiful and useful things to our diverse customers, most of whom we know as friends and neighbors! More than anything we have enjoyed getting to know you all. Your patronage, your stories and appreciation for us is part of what has kept us going!

Our story is also one of hope and the spirit of collective strength in the face of difficult times. The model of a multi-vendor market is not unique, yet the mix and diversity we have been able to provide has been very unique. We support the other markets like ours and wish them well. We hope we have inspired you all a little because you all inspired us! The spirit of individuals coming together in co-creating coolness and working together is what our world needs now!

About Max Hunt
Max Hunt grew up in South (New) Jersey and graduated from Warren Wilson College in 2011. History nerd; art geek; connoisseur of swimming holes, hot peppers, and plaid clothing. Follow me @J_MaxHunt

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2 thoughts on “The Downtown Marketplace announces impending closure at September’s end

  1. Naomi

    We will miss you! Your unique store will go down in history as one of the most fun places in Asheville to find hidden treasures. Best of luck with Sly Grog!

  2. W3ndy

    I will miss everyone. Thanks for supporting my business at the Downtown Market.
    44% off booth #369
    Please continue to shop R3S33D. We will be relocating and are looking for a new space similar to the DTM.

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