The Biz

Solar-powered: While it may look like your average mobile retail station, this Spiritex cart is a green machine under the hood (or the roof, really). photo courtesy of Spiritex

At first glance, the Spiritex pushcart looks fairly unremarkable. Parked on the corner of Patton and Biltmore avenues most weekends, the cart displays the company's locally designed and manufactured organic cotton T-shirts and other apparel.

But behind its T-shirt-hawking façade, it's a green machine.

Conceived and designed by Spiritex employee Derek Sanders, the cart sports a rooftop solar setup that charges a battery for powering its evening lights and a small fan that keeps staff cool during the day. The system also powers a charging station for the iPhone-based device that lets customers swipe their debit and credit cards to buy Spiritex products.

The system features three self-contained solar cells built by local artist and designer John Seefeldt. The cells operate independently, each one providing power for a different function.

The custom-built cart also is composed of more than 60 percent recycled and salvaged materials, most of which came from the Trash Inc. Creative Reuse Center at 95 Thompson St. Trash Inc. takes materials that would have otherwise found their way to the landfill and sells them to people looking for “found” materials to use in art, education, craft and DIY projects. The Spiritex cart features wheels that once spun on a mountain bike, and aluminum siding and shelving all once destined for the trash bin.

The cart was built by Alex Kramer, owner of Full Circle Design-Build in Green Mountain.

Sanders says that the Spiritex cart was the logical step in expanding the company’s brand in Asheville without incurring the expense of opening another shop. “The city of Asheville has a great permitting program where they have multiple spots around the city. They license you a permit spot for the entire year,” reports Sanders. The company operates a store at 14 Haywood St. as well as a sister store, the M.I.A. Gallery, at 61 1/2 N. Lexington Ave. Spiritex sells a variety of T-shirts at the cart, from more offbeat prints like one of inventor Nikola Tesla with the question, “What would Tesla do?” to tourist-friendly options like one with a picture of the city’s skyline with the phrase “Kiss my Asheville.”

Sanders says the cart will be out every weekend as well as every Monday, and on select days throughout the summer.

Advanced Manufacturing Solutions announces operations in Buncombe County

Thirty-six jobs are coming to the Asheville area over the next three years, according to an announcement by the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County. Specializing in precision-machining and fabricated parts, the Candler-based Advanced Manufacturing Solutions Inc. is investing $1.1 million in its Rutherford Road facility and bringing 36 new jobs to the area over the next three years. Up to 10 of those new jobs are slated to start this summer.

Founded almost a year ago by Robby and Carolyn Johannessen, the manufacturer serves a diverse client base, including mass transit, defense, consumer packaging, aerospace, health care and the USPS. The firm currently employs 11.

“We appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit of the Johannessens,” said David Gantt, chairman of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. “Companies like Advanced Manufacturing Solutions embody the confidence and momentum that will continue to lead our county and our economy toward better days.”

— Christopher George can be reached at 251-1333, ext. 140, or at


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