In photos: Firestorm Books & Coffee serves up some anarchy on Haywood Road

PENNIES FOR THE REVOLUTION: Firestorm Books & Coffee is back — operating out of a new West Asheville location. Photo by Hayley Benton

On Friday, July 3, Haywood Road got a new bookstore and café — with a little bit of West Asheville grit (in a good way).

Firestorm Books & Coffee is back. And though the doors are currently open — the coffee flowing and the pages turning, the 7-year-old cooperative will host its official grand opening celebration on Sunday, July 12.

Originally located downtown on Commerce Street, in the space now occupied by Addissae Ethiopian restaurant, Firestorm Books & Coffee closed in April 2014 to carry out a new vision for the alternative, cooperative bookstore. On Jan. 1, worker-owners announced the purchase of their new location: 610 Haywood Road, the former home of Pro Bikes.

A crowdfunding campaign over the next few months successfully backed the bookstore’s re-opening, raising $13,520 of the $13,000 goal and allowing worker-owners to transform their space from an edgy bike shop to a cozy coffee corner.

On the menu for the July 12 grand opening? Free coffee, giveaways and readings by local authors, starting at 5 p.m.

And, as always, Firestorm’s collective shows a dedication to their literature. “Curious readers will find not only the rich assortment of titles on gardening, green living and political radicalism, … but also an expanded inventory of children’s books, classics and speculative fiction,” reads a press release from Firestorm.

Seven months ago, worker-owners promised a revamped children’s section in their store — and Firestorm delivered. A corner of the new location is dedicated to children’s books, poems and short stories, coloring and activity books and a chalkboard beside a kiddie-sized table and chairs.

And, according to the press release, “The cooperative has plans to host regular author events, book groups and a bilingual story hour for kids.”

In a space to the left of the bookstore, Firestorm Books & Coffee stays true to its name, smelling of roasted beans and toasting bagels in its offbeat café. The vegan coffee and tea bar offers specialty beverages like a coconut cream breve and the spicy molotov macchiato, while also serving baked goods from Wadadli Dessert Oasis, Eden-Out Meals and Eat More Bakery.

Worker-owner Lauren Lockamy stood behind the café counter on Tuesday, July 7, taking orders and serving coffee to the small group of patrons already flipping pages and nestled into chairs around the well-lit space.

Lockamy explained that there are still a few finishing touches that the collaborative hopes to set up before the grand opening — a few more shelves, some additional art on the walls, their piano from the last space (currently in storage) — and most of their baked goods have yet to be delivered.

But it’s coming along — a completely different feel than the gutted, graffitied space they showed off in winter.

And to the worker-owners of Firestorm, it’s more than just a bookstore and café.

“Firestorm has always been a labor of love,” said worker-owner Libertie Valance in December of last year. “None of us are really doing it for the paycheck. We’re [here] for the right reasons.”

Lockamy added, “I didn’t go into Firestorm trying to find a place of fulfillment in my work, but that’s kind of what it became.”

For more news from Firestorm, check out their Facebook page and website.

On mobile? Click here to view the photos on your phone.


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About Hayley Benton
Current freelance journalist and artist. Former culture/entertainment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times and former news reporter at Mountain Xpress. Also a coffee drinker, bad photographer, teller of stupid jokes and maker-upper of words. I can be reached at hayleyebenton [at] Follow me @HayleyTweeet

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5 thoughts on “In photos: Firestorm Books & Coffee serves up some anarchy on Haywood Road

  1. Jaded Local

    “Stand tall for the proletariat against the evil bourgeoisie! I’ll have a $4.00 coconut creme breve espresso.”

    • Lillie Wallace

      Hey, ‘Jaded Local’, whatever the cost of your specialty drink, rest assured that Firestorm ain’t getting rich off your purchase. They are a WORKER-OWNED business which means there’s nobody sitting at the top of the business getting rich off the workers’ labor below. They buy local and the money you spend there goes back into our community. For that, they are unique in our town and deserve great applause. If you’re interested in lowering drink costs for their customers, consider applying to work there where you’ll have an equal say in how their business is run. Maybe you’ll figure out how to sell your cheap drink and stay in business, maybe not, but you’d get a better appreciation of who they are and what they stand for.

    • hauntedheadnc

      I actually did go in there one night and have a coconut-something or other latte.

      It tasted like fried ass, which is why I never went back. To this day I wonder if maybe I was dressed too well and they did it on purpose. Some friends of mine and I went in and we got the stink eye from the staff the entire time.

  2. Kayla Worden

    So glad that Firestorm is back!!! Simply LOVE them!!! Their food and drinks are truly spectacular and adore the business model! Good job, Firestorm!

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