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