Letter writer: Do Ashevilleans really support local?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I was, and am, extremely saddened by the closing of Katuah [Market] and have the utmost respect and appreciation to [John] Swann for creating such a meaningful and healthy place. It is a great loss to see it go.

But I am not convinced that it’s due to people not willing to purchase locally, as Swann’s quote insinuated: “That’s all great, but if you want to support local, then really support it. That means not supporting multibillion-dollar, multinational corporations.”

Wasn’t this the same man who sold Greenlife to one of these corporations? Couldn’t he have refused to be a part of bringing in such a multibillion-dollar company?

The next article, concerning the expansion of the French Broad Food Co-op, tells a different story regarding locals supporting local businesses. They lost customers when Greenlife was locally run, and after the purchase by Whole Foods, those customers returned to the local co-op. Isn’t this the act of people putting their money where their mouth is … or where their bumper stickers are?

 — Kris Kramer
Black Mountain

Editor’s note: Swann told the Citizen-Times in March that he had been a minority partner in Greenlife and that the 2010 buyout by Whole Foods had been negotiated without his knowledge. In the October 2014 “Asheville Food Pioneers” story, Swann also told Xpress that the sale occurred without his consent.

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2 thoughts on “Letter writer: Do Ashevilleans really support local?

  1. abruceltd

    you should have done your target market research and realized your main customer base lives in West Asheville and you should have opened in that area not in Biltmore Village full of seasonal tourist

  2. Nathan Jones

    The letter from Kris, the response from the Xpress’, and the original article itself, were interesting and maybe even educational. I do not doubt that Swann did some market research, but it is very clear that either it wasn’t rigorous or courageous enough to explore a scenario that his location would sink him. It’s common for people to pressure themselves, their staff, or their hired consultants, to only tell them what they want to hear. As for Greenlife & Whole Foods, it seems curiously late to be saying now that one wasn’t told a sale was being negotiated without his knowledge, I mean, that really raises the question of how engaged or relevant a person was in the success of Greenlife, right? Beyond that, the sale of Green Life plus the entry of Whole Foods, are learning moments for many in Asheville who think their passions and beliefs will overcome and trump basic market forces of capital, liquidity and cash flow, marketing, location, access, inventory management, quality control, and effective training of staff. They Do Not Overcome Such Forces. That is a lesson appliable to every industry sector and is not aimed necessarily at Swann or Katuah. I do hope the F.B. Co-op keeps their financial “break-even” point low enough so that they can stay marginally profitable in the face of larger market forces they have no control over, passions be-danged.

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