Jimmy and Keller Anne Knight were having a burger in Myrtle Beach one day when Keller had an idea.
“I said to him, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I worked someplace where I could wear my smart-alecky T-shirts every day?’”
Jimmy agreed that it would. Long story short, the conversation led to the Knights’ store, A Sense of Humor, located on Asheville’s Walnut Street. It opened Nov. 3.
True to its name, A Sense of Humor is well appointed with novelties, gags, puns and one-liners: A toy gun, for instance, that hurls tiny rubber chickens at enemies (or spouses). A whole line of baby shirts tucked inside cloth bags marked “Let Mysterioso Decide the Fate of Your Baby.” Pull out the shirt, and voilà, your baby’s future is sealed; they’ll grow up to be a game-show host, mafia accountant, flamenco dancer, conspiracy nut or hog-calling champion.
A good portion of the store’s inventory is office-themed, including plastic-cubicle play sets where corporate zombies and sensitivity trainers prowl.
The Knights got help in getting their store started from the A-B Tech Business Incubator, Mountain BizWorks and Public Interest Projects, whose Harry Weiss pointed them to the Walnut Street space, situated below the home-furnishings store Mobilia.
“Asheville is a great town for entrepreneurs,” says Keller. “We had plenty of help.”
Even with all the help, it took a while getting to the punch line. At first, the Knights say, downtown’s powers-that-be were resistant to have A Sense of Humor included in the retail gumbo. “I don’t know if they thought we were going to sell a bunch or whoopee cushions or what,” says Keller.
But the store fills a niche, the couple insists. For all of Asheville’s commercial merits, too many of the stores “are full of really fragile things that fidgety fingers do not need to go near,” notes Jimmy. Kids will find plenty to delight in at A Sense of Humor, including a “spring-loaded grisly finger” and piles of life-size rubber chickens. Adults will be equally thrilled with the store’s “Life is Crap” T-shirts, which answer a more sanguine line of clothing that’s popular with Asheville’s outdoor set.
And for those whose tastes run in a more highbrow direction, A Sense of Humor sells its share of elevated merchandise, too, including a coffee mug emblazoned with insults drawn from Shakespeare. (“Thou are a boil, a plague-sore.” King Lear.)
“It’s a place where you can forget about everything that’s going on in the world for a minute and just laugh,” says Keller.
“And the laughs are free,” notes Jimmy.
A Sense of Humor is located at 84 W. Walnut Street, Unit B. Call 225-5666 for hours.