Letter: Downtown advertising strikes sour chord

Graphic by Lori Deaton

My family and I were driving in downtown Asheville on [a recent] Saturday evening. Our windows were down and we were enjoying our conversation — until a full-size truck pulled alongside us, with music loud enough that we were forced to stop talking until the truck moved on. This truck was advertising for a local business, complete with a mannequin in the back. A block later, we encountered a convertible with another mannequin, advertising for the same business.

Downtown is already crowded with cars, and these two seemed to be circling incessantly, taking up space, using lots of gasoline and making unwanted noise.

I’m no marketing expert, but I think it’s best if your advertising doesn’t annoy the public. I won’t be patronizing this business until it finds a form of advertising that is less obnoxious and closer to carbon-neutral.

— Scott Paxon

Editor’s note: Although the letter writer didn’t identify the business by name, we guessed it to be Off the Wagon Dueling Piano Bar and contacted the business for a response to a critique of its advertising. General Manager Ben Reese offered the following statement: “We like our advertising and understand there are those out there who don’t care for it. We have no plans of changing what we do until it no longer becomes effective.” He added, “If you don’t like it, quit yelling at us, threatening us and spitting at us. We will defend ourselves if we are inclined to do so under a threat. We recommend ignoring us … if you don’t like our advertising.”


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

19 thoughts on “Letter: Downtown advertising strikes sour chord

  1. jason

    Pretty funny that you were driving around and now your complaining about other people driving around. Why didn’t you just roll up your windows and continue having your very important conversation? I’m more flabbergasted that you took the time to send in this piece of dribble. You could have at least named the business instead of letting Mountain Xpress do your work for you.

    • Not bright, no worries

      Hey Ben,
      Nice try but we know it’s you. Better luck next time.

  2. Johnny to the A

    Finally, an Asheville area resident and business owner worth knowing; Ben Reese.

    Thank you Ben for not caving to the overly sensitive residents of this town who complain about everything – as they have nothing else to do.

    I have friends coming in town for a visit. We be visiting Off the Wagon Dueling Piano Bar.

    Bravo, Ben! Bravo!

    • luther blissett

      The driver of that sad truck has the worst job in downtown.

      The second-worst is the doorman at Sovereign Remedies who has to stand outside and listen to the yowling from Off The Wall all night.

      • Lulz

        I doubt you’ve ever actually worked in a kitchen. But the perspective shown, what was written, and what the actually life experiences are is very telling. Blue collar labor is not what the left supports these days. Unless of course it’s some farce mass transit system that in the end will still lose money, still encompass empty buses, and still bewilder intellectuals as to why no one wants to ride on them. All for show.

        That driver has an easy job barring having to navigate around tourists.

        • luther blissett

          You’re full of assumptions and define blue-collar labor in very weird ways.

  3. SpareChange

    Wow – what an arrogant, needlessly hostile response from Off the Wagon’s General Manager Ben Reese. If he or his employees have been at the receiving end of the behavior he describes, I absolutely condemn that, but nothing of the sort was forthcoming from the letter writer, and to respond in the fashion he did shows an utter disregard for the public in general, and even more toward his fellow downtown businesses and residential neighbors.

    I once sympathized with the problems Mr. Reese had with the city over permitting and construction issues. While the advertising truck is obnoxious, I did generally do as he recommends and tried to ignore it. However, as a downtown resident who has patronized and taken guests to “Off The Wagon” many times, in the face of his obnoxious and contemptuous response, I won’t be patronizing or recommending the place to others any longer. There are too many other better choices for an evening’s entertainment.

    • luther blissett

      It’s a testament to how modern conservatism functions. Mr Reese vociferously defends his club’s policies because it’s his private business and he sets the rules, while blasting the entire block with noise and sending that sad truck crawling round downtown. He’s a polluter who thinks his taxes are more than enough to cover the cleanup.

      • Lulz

        Same can be said of every bar downtown. While not so in your face, the cost of public drunkeness, the cost of trash pick up, the cost of the tourist who patronize them is the same.

        Yet they are never mentioned. Except of course when taxes are to be raised to pay for it.

        • luther blissett

          “Same can be said of every bar downtown. ”

          Yet you insist you avoid downtown, so how do you know?

  4. Jason

    AVOID DOWNTOWN at ALL costs; except on weekdays/night from october to April…..
    Just trust me!

  5. Rx

    “quit yelling at us, threatening us and spitting at us. ” Are people…really doing this?

  6. luther blissett

    The Yelp reviews are a scream. Making patrons sign a waiver saying they don’t serve tap water, and “Benjamin R.” showing up to say “how dare you demand something for free”? No wonder it’s the downtown entertainment hub for the BCGOP.

    • Lulz

      LOL I wonder if Tupelo Honey does the same?

      If one had ever worked in the industry, one would surmise that you want to attract people to come in and this one is very important, spend money. You don’t suppose that they don’t give out free water to anyone who will just come in, spend no money, and use up their space do ya? Why how do they keep the lights on?

      The difference is apparent in one who actually ran a business and one who hasn’t.

      • luther blissett

        “You don’t suppose that they don’t give out free water to anyone who will just come in, spend no money, and use up their space do ya?”

        Name two other downtown private clubs that refuse to provide free tap water, oh actual-worked-in-the-industry-runner-of-a-business.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.