After 10 years of doing business in downtown Asheville, The Old North State Clothing Company is closing its store at 2 Battery Park Ave. Owner Andy Archie blames the bad economy for increasingly sluggish sales.
“The past three years have just been brutal,” he reports. “We had expanded and bought a couple of buildings in 2007 and really never recovered from that. That was ill-timed. But who knew? At the time, it seemed like the safest investment we could’ve made. Nobody could’ve seen the future.”
The store’s former home — and those buildings at the old Sluder site on Broadway — have since been claimed and resold by the banks, Archie reports, adding: “We’ve been kind of hanging on ever since.”
The business specialized in high-end clothing produced in the U.S. The store actively promoted the fact that none of its products were made in China. After annual sales growth of 20 percent for the first six years of operations, Archie says business crashed by 75 percent since about 2008.
“We had a great business plan,” he maintains. “It was just a catastrophic time that no one could foresee.”
Archie adds that he has no regrets. “We had a good run of 10 years, which is about nine years longer than most small businesses last. I have no complaints. You take risks, and you move forward. We thank all our costumers for the years of support.”
He declined to reveal details on what his next steps are but says he has “lots of irons in the fire.” As for the future of the space at 2 Battery Park, Archie reports only that “local owners are planning to open a local business.”
As for his loyal longterm assistant –– Labrador retriever Dakota, who’s helped him at the counter since she was five months old – Archie says he thinks she’ll be OK with the change. “She wears a lot of hats. She’ll be just fine,” he says. “She’s happy wherever she is.”
The store is selling all its remaining merchandise at discounts of 40 to 70 percent and plans to stay open until at least Friday, Sept. 2.
Photos by Jake Frankel