Welcome the tourists, even when they move here

My family and I were tourists for five years, pumping thousands of dollars into the economy, until we moved here in 2009. When a downtown restaurant owner asked me where we finally settled and I said south Asheville, there was an uncomfortable silence between us. Did I say something wrong?

Enjoying my Mountain Xpress from cover to cover every week, I came to realize that there is a mistaken stereotype that the "hip" and "open-minded" only live in north or West Asheville. Here's how cool we (my family and I) are, being "former tourists now moved here" residents:
• I am an Obama Mama, liberal, out of the closet "whole-istic" practitioner and professional.
• We lovingly donate money and time to help the less fortunate in the area.
• I excitedly relocated my independent (international) business to Asheville, immediately joined the Asheville Chamber of Commerce and contributed to the local economy.
• My gainfully employed (by an international company out of state) husband joyfully pays taxes to Asheville and North Carolina.
• I happily volunteer in our local schools.
• We frequently spend our money and time in downtown and south Asheville businesses to show our appreciation and support.

How about — instead of sporting (what has been ranked the top) bumper stickers recently in Mountain Xpress: "Don't Move Here" and "No Tourists" — we all consider, "Thanks for your Business" and "Thanks for Supporting Our Local Economy (instead of taking your business elsewhere)." For some it could even be: "Thanks for Helping Put Food on My Table" or "Thanks for Helping me Pay My Rent."

We have all decided to come together for a reason in the Asheville area. This is one of the few places where nearly everyone I meet came here because they want to be here. Since most of you reading this aren't originally from Asheville, what's the hazing period? Why the attitude?

I personally extend a warm welcome, as a south Asheville Newbie, to all tourists, "resident wannabes," and "just moved heres." We are happy to receive your business and to be your neighbor.

— Michelle Payton

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8 thoughts on “Welcome the tourists, even when they move here

  1. entopticon

    Asheville has been a tourist town, literally since its inception. It’s not just a coincidence that the baseball team is named the Tourists. Of course some tourists can be a bit annoying at times, but ranting about tourists in Asheville is about as ridiculous as going into an Italian restaurant and ranting about how much you can’t stand Italian food.

    I don’t think Michelle was patting herself on the back; I think she was just pointing out that she has clearly been a positive contributor to this community, and the reflexive hipster-wannabees who are so quick to judge tourism should think about that before mindlessly judging anyone else.

    Last week I was on my way to Taqueria Fast in Woodfin for a quick dinner with my wife, but it was closing as we got there. We started heading back towards town when we saw Curras Dom and decided to give it a try since it was a weekend night. The food was exceptional, and they featured local meats and vegetables. I had local rabbit that was braised for 12 hours in a guajillo chile and pear sauce. It is not cheap because they use good ingredients and make high-end dishes, but it is a great place for a night out.

    Sitting next to us was a table full of tourists from out of state, who in many ways fit the stereotype of the wealthy tourist. Turns out they were from Vegas (the real one;). It would have been easy to be judgmental, but the fact is that they were there supporting a small local business that supports small local farms. Not only that, they actually had a big shopping bag full of stuff from Minx (which they ended up showing us) so they had supported a wonderful small retailer downtown as well. Both are great local businesses to support.

  2. Stopthesillies!

    What??? Are you seriously so sensitive that you need to write a letter to the editor about your perception of an uncomfortable silence because you think you are being looked down on for living in South Asheville? Seriously? Thank You for your resume of why you should be invited in to Asheville with open arms.. I am sure your egocentric letter will allow the universe to poor new friends from all points in Asheville North,South,East,West. Just the fact that you felt compelled to put down the entire city and “assumed” tourists are not welcome is the reason for the bumper stickers in the first place! Get over yourself! Be from South Asheville, be hip,progressive,liberal, international whatever. Just do it! Live your live but do not pass judge ment on others just because you feel compelled to self market! Your letter shows your true colors in more ways then you will ever imagine! Malprop’s has a really great self-help self acceptance selection. I suggest you get to reading and stop fretting about how others see you. Oh and remember YOU invited the criticism by whining in the local paper!

  3. Pride

    Folks in North, East, and West Asheville have a lot of neighborhood pride, perhaps it was the tone you use when you said South. I myself smile really big when I say what part of the city I am from. I’m not really sure why you are letting the comments of a server get to you so much.

    By the way, where exactly is South Asheville? is that Arden or Biltmore forest?

  4. entopticon

    Yeah Michelle, how dare you be offended by the people ranting about tourists in a tourist town? And how dare you have your feelings hurt? You must be some kind of monster. And pointing out your contributions to our community, how incredibly hideous of you. You should just beg for forgiveness for offending the bumper sticker makers and hipster wannabes. That or hara-kiri.

  5. LawsonZ

    Maybe it’s not the South Asheville aspect that is off putting…maybe it’s your condescending sense of entitlement…just a thought.

  6. entopticon

    I couldn’t find any actual condescension or unreasonable sense of entitlement in the above letter, so I guess the trick is to read between the lines. I guess when Michelle talked about lovingly donating money, she was really saying “hey you dumb poor people, I am so much better than you.” When she talked about volunteering in local schools, she was really saying, “hey you dumbasses, I am so much smarter than you that you need my help.” And when she talked about bringing business to our local economy, she was really saying, “I am the queen of the Universe, so you should all bow before me and beg for mercy.” It’s all so clear now. How very sneaky of her.

  7. Ken

    The lady said she had moved to South Asheville, and an uncomfortable silence ensued. Therefore, she assumed that her entire character was being assaulted. I think it’s an overreaction.

    I’ll say this: I grew up here in Asheville, and I know exactly what “North Asheville” and “West Asheville” mean, but if someone told me that he lived in “South Asheville”, there would be an uncomfortable silence. I would be confused. Where is that? South of downtown, like near the Middle School? In the few disconnected residential sections near the hospitals? Near Biltmore Village? Shiloh? Overlook Road, which is near Lake Julian?

    Maybe this explains the silence.

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