While every small business is suffering due to the coronavirus lockdown, Asheville’s boutique apparel stores face their own financial and operational challenges.
In an industry that relies on foot traffic, they must adapt to remote operations to weather the state-mandated closure of their brick-and-mortar locations.
The downtown area – the crown jewel of Asheville’s tourism industry – is not only feeling the financial ramifications; it’s facing an identity crisis as well. Its image is quirky, independent and small. Of the 222 businesses that responded to a 2018 survey of the Asheville Downtown Association, 116 said they employed fewer than 10 staff members, according to Meghan Rogers, executive director.
“We are the foundation, we’re the image, we’re what you get, the mom and pop [shops],” said Judith Oster, the owner of Caravans on 1 Page Ave. in the Grove Arcade.