Hardware returns to downtown Asheville

The opening of a new hardware store in downtown Asheville would be news enough, since big-box stores such as North Carolina-based Lowe’s and Home Depot have all but decimated the Mom-and-Pop shops that once littered the American landscape. But a new store, Asheville Hardware, aims to go beyond just the traditional nuts and bolts and become a haven for local woodworkers, who may have found their access to special tools, supplies and materials somewhat lacking.

Keys to the city: Blayne Johnston, an employee at the recently opened Asheville Hardware, on the job. Photo By Jon Elliston

Western North Carolina is home to a sizable number of woodworkers, notes store owner Tom Gholson. Prior to the opening of Asheville Hardware, commercial and artisan woodworkers had no local source for many of their supplies, he says.

“I decided to open a woodworking supply store because I learned that I wasn’t the only one wishing that I didn’t have to travel or use mail order to get what I thought was the best product,” says Gholson, who worked as a restoration contractor for nine years before opening his business.

“I decided on a downtown location because our area gets 8 million tourists per year, and I know some are not looking for another gift shop or gallery, but rather a place to explore and learn about woodworking. We keep plenty of staff here all the time so that gives customers the chance to discuss their projects,” he adds.

Billing itself as a “convenience” hardware store, Asheville Hardware carries the usual light bulbs, locks, fasteners, painting supplies and the like, in addition to services such as key making and tool assembly. But the main lure may be woodworking: Shoppers can purchase slabs of local hardwood, veneers, wood for turning and carving, woodworking hardware, finishing products, apparel, instructional materials, specialty hand tools, work benches and more.

“Early settlers of WNC established their own styles of furniture-making, which eventually led to the development of the furniture industry in our state,” Gholson says. “Woodworking is part of the heritage of WNC.” Asheville Hardware is located at 91 Biltmore Ave . Call the store at 252-8088.

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