My roots run deep here in Appalachia. I was raised on cast iron skillet cooking, floating on the French Broad, and southern graciousness in our home. While I don’t think that hospitality is confined to the south, I strongly believe in the inheritance of southern graciousness and that it is part of my DNA.
When designing Provisions Mercantile, I had my grandmother’s original West Asheville community store in my mind. My family has told me stories about their experiences there for as long as I can remember. Anecdotes ranged from my uncle working in the store after his classes as a senior at Lee Edwards school, to the candy treats my aunt used to sneak, and all the staple food items and household essentials I was told about that filled the shelves.
I’ve heard about the customers who frequented the shop and the commodities they relied on. I’ve learned that my grandmother’s store served as more than a shop; it was a place for community and conversation. It had no formal name and was simply known as “the community store.” The staples on the shelves weren’t the only things bringing customers back, it was my grandmother’s good nature and hospitality. Though the mercantile was in her basement, she was still inviting people into her home.
From the beginning, Provisions Mercantile needed to serve the same purpose. It wasn’t intended to be just a store for gifts and small treasures. The goal has always been for it to be a neighborhood gathering spot where everyone feels welcome coming in regardless of whether you were making a purchase.
In the construction plans, we included a lounge area and knew we wanted a coffee purveyor. We also created a workspace for events and maker demonstrations. I believed, if the intention was cozy and comfortable from the initial design, it would translate into a welcoming, hospitable environment.
Once you’re in our store, I hope you feel like you’re in my home—or at least an extension of my family room! Inside you’ll find intriguing, fun, inventive, and curious gifts that you can touch, experience, smell, hold, hopefully fall in love with, and purchase for someone or yourself. The apparel, jewelry, and bags are indeed reflective of my own personal style. I appreciate quality craftsmanship and desire wearable fashion pieces. I find inspiration in the places we have traveled over the years and the products in our store reflect a variety of artists crafting different items with unique stories to tell. When something catches my eye, I imagine what it would be like for others to own it. We carry these items in hopes they make their way to delighting someone else down the line.
If you don’t find the perfect something for yourself or a friend or loved one, that’s OK. You’ll hear us say, “Thank you for coming by,” or, more than likely, “Come back, even if it’s to say ‘hi.’” Believe us when we say that. I really do want you to come back, even if it’s just to poke your head in the door and say, “How’re y’all doing?” That’s what hospitality is for me. It’s caring about your neighbors, reciprocating pleasantries, and genuinely meaning it.
- Heather Wright