In a nutshell, the political climate in Asheville/Buncombe County in the early ’90s was quite polarized. We had the good ol’ boy network in place and a growing progressive arts-and-political community wanting to assert itself.
I served as the director of advertising for the Green Line newspaper in its last year before it morphed into Mountain Xpress. While we expected a certain degree of resistance to a weekly political/arts magazine, we found out quickly that we would not be accepted readily by the mainstream business community, and certain buzzwords like lesbian, gay and environmentalist (in the Xpress news and commentary sections) would bring us virtually NO advertising dollars from many existing Asheville businesses. It quickly became apparent that the path to survival would be to rely on forward-thinking, sympathetic businesses, along with the financial support of Asheville benefactors like the late great Julian Price.
How times have changed. Every time I hear an Ingles ad touting “Organics in every aisle,” I think of how Xpress’ Director of Advertising Carey Watson and I were politely shown the door in 1994 by an old-school Ingles executive in response to our request for ads for organic products. To their credit, a younger generation of Ingles execs now sees the importance of a broad marketing reach and advertises frequently in Xpress!
Robert Feirstein is a sales/marketing veteran working at Kimmel and Associates. He specializes in recruiting for mechanical/electrical construction industries.