Candidates and elected officials who would bar chain stores from Asheville are endangering the revitalization process downtown. Local retailers would benefit from the shoppers brought to downtown by chain advertising that [local stores] cannot afford. Every successful retail project in the country has a mix of local and chain merchants; the alternative is worse.
We saw the same debate take place [regarding] Lincoln Road in Miami Beach: “Keep out the evil chains, who destroy local retailers.” Well, we were a local retailer on Lincoln Road that did not see success until the chains came in. Sure, some locals who could not make it were replaced by nationals, but now there is a healthy mix of both doing very well, thank you.
The constitutional equal-protection issue of treating chain stores differently than nonchains is another problem. By all means, every retailer must meet building codes, size and signage requirements; chains can modify their branding needs to comply.
Finally, I wonder how many of the people who think downtown Asheville is too good for chain stores shop at the Asheville Mall?
— Howard Talesnick