Latest victim of the killer economy: Old North State Clothing Company

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.

Old North State Clothing Company

Old North State Clothing Company

Old North State Clothing Company

Old North State Clothing Company

Old North State Clothing Company

Photos by Jake Frankel

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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14 thoughts on “Latest victim of the killer economy: Old North State Clothing Company

  1. bill smith

    [b]”Nobody could’ve seen the future.”[/b]
    Yeah, who knew the massive surge in housing prices in the early oughts was some sort of bubble? That sure came outta nowhere!

  2. Kim

    I think we will be seeing more stores empty in the months to come.

  3. When Andy and Lucy opened The Old North State, they hired me to be their graphic designer – they were they best clients I could have hoped for! The logo I designed for them is still one of my favorites.

    I was so proud of them when they decided to only sell clothing that was made in America.

    Sadly, they are but one of many of my former clients who have folded up shop in the past few years.

    We should all follow Andy and Lucy’s lead, and demand that stores carry only American-made goods from now on. (And we should restrict our purchases to American products, the more locally produced, the better!) We can’t restore our economy any other way.

  4. chops

    That “nothing made in china” thing was always a disincentive for me to shop there.

    It made me imagine that the proprietor was a racist, or a wacko nationalist.

    To be honest, I still don’t quite understand the meaning. Is it supposed to be political or something? Like, he’s trying to say we need higher tarriffs on Chinese imports?

  5. Chops, anyone who oppose an organization that is encouraging Americans to buy American goods and services is, in my opinion, a traitor to this country.

    We need to reinstate a tariff system in order to restore our manufacturing base. (Didn’t you know that China levies a tariff on goods we export to them? Why aren’t we doing the same?)

    As it stands, we import materials we need for our own national defense. Countless reports have concluded that the loss of our domestic manufacturing base has compromised our national security, as well as our quality of life.

    I’m hoping that you’re simply ignorant of the facts, because otherwise, you’re part of the problem.

  6. Dionysis

    It’s hard to see how the charge of racism should attach to someone’s desire to purchase American-made goods. Perhaps I’m just naive, but my take on this desire is that people genuinely feel that purchasing goods made in this country (what few that still are) would translate into increasing the manufacturing infrastructure within this country. Domestic job creation, in other words.

    Of course, cheap labor and preferential tax considerations (i.e. more profit) are the primary motivators of businesses going to China or anywhere else. Aside from the effect on domestic manufacturing this strategy brings, it also poses potentially harmful effects on national security, as many corporations are giving up proprietary technological secrets to the Chinese in exchange for their short-term profiteering.

  7. Chops I agree the “nothing made in china” did seem racist to me. So nothing was made in China what about Indonesia or South Korea the sign indicated it was anything but China. I do know that they meant American Made, but the tag line seemed to carry the wrong tone, maybe the tried and true “Made In America” would have been more representative. David I totally agree that we should all be striving to buy American, and it is unfortunate that there is not a mechanism to level the playing field when competing with countries that have lax environmental regulations and a zero respect for workers wages.

    I personally thought the prices at the store seemed a little insulting, which may have contributed to the demise.

  8. Libby Sparks

    It was a cool store, but in the end it was just another one of those places where, if you are to be a righteous consumer, you have to make six figures, have a trust fund or be willing to just blow money. Unfortunately, most of us can’t afford to pay $80 for a pair of pants made in the USA, bought in a downtown boutique. Most people who buy goods from China or other Asian countries aren’t doing so out of choice, but out of budgetary necessity. I never visit these types of stores because they, much like a grocery store in the mold of Greenlife, make you feel like doing the right thing as a consumer is reserved only for the well-off.

  9. Jeff

    It was very nice clothes, but the overall vibe of the style was old preppy folk. Like for people who were adult preppies in the 80’s and had not progressed or adjusted their style. Except to pay more for the same style.

    The last time I was in The Old North State was 2 locations ago on Biltmore. I’ve walked past the store literally hundreds of times through their next 2 locations and never felt like I was missing seeing something inside. A more modern or individualistic style or approach to merchandising might have helped?

    I wore that style of clothes in the 80’s but I don’t wear anything now that looks like that today.

    Sad to hear about this business closing. I’d see them coming & going and would say hello. They seemed like nice folk. But blaming the economy is not the whole story here.

  10. We moved Broadway Video in 2007 because I just didn’t see any foot traffic in that two block area. Sure, some places do fine like Mellow Mushroom but I really think that this particular area of Broadway is a challenge if you are doing retail.

    I wish them luck with any future endeavors.

  11. They had moved to a much smaller store on Battery Park Avenue after Broadway. Lots of foot traffic there. But it wasn’t enough, apparently.

  12. sanna

    I’m Chinese (born in the US), and I wasn’t offended at all by “nothing made in china,” nor do I see it as racist. Every American knows just about all our goods are imported from China. Obviously this was a statement regarding manufacturing locale and not the skin color of who makes our stuff.

  13. LamontCranston

    It always saddens me when I hear or read about someone’s dream and livelihood that has to shut his or her doors due to economic issues. In this case, the clothing was very nice, yet pricey, but the majority of people in this country these days, and especially here in the Western North Carolina area, cannot afford to purchase such clothing due to the economic conditions. North Carolina and it’s job market and the labor laws on the books also contribute to the economic troubles as everyone here in these “Right To Work” states seem to think that a living wage is $10.00 or less an hour. Obviously it is not, and anyone who thinks that working within a state, or states (as here in the South) with mandated laws on the books that create an artificial wage suppression of around 10% – 20% less for the same job elsewhere is only kidding themselves in thinking that this is job creation and good for the majority of the population. We reap what we sow. It’s long overdue for all wage earners to get off the floor and start fighting for their right for a quality of life that is proportionate to their input of labor. In other words, start complaining to Raleigh and let’s fight to get rid of the “Plantation Mentality” labor frame of mind. We don’t work have to work for the “Boss man” anymore, and haven’t had to for some time now.

    Wake up folks, and smell the coffee of a better quality of life that we all deserve from our collective contributions of hard work that had made this country great some time ago: It’s all about the majority, and not the 1% “overlords”.

  14. hot dog

    he is just a lousy businessmen – nothing to do with the economy!

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