There are lots of places to shop in the Asheville area but right now we’re looking at a few that I consider under-appreciated. They may have fewer stores, may be older or may be out of the way. They may not be worth a trip but you should visit them. If we don’t they’ll soon be gone. Do you want more retail choices or less? Also, as this week’s selection will show, their increased space or lower rents may allow a more eclectic selection of local businesses to take the place of the national big-box cookie cutter chains. The shopping venues I am highlighting are a great place to get a taste of local culture.

1. Biltmore Square Mall, West Asheville

DIRECTIONS: Exit 33 off I-26, then South on Highway 191(Brevard Road).

WHY I LIKE IT: Biltmore Square Mall is an older shopper venue but its worn its age well. I may be going out a limb but I’m going to say it is our area’s most elaborate and beautiful shopping mall. It has palm trees inside, it has a beautiful fountain and stunning sculptures. It has skylights that look down on a spacious food court.

RiverRidge is as close as Asheville has to an outlet mall. Its got about six outlet shops in it, plus two craft shops. There are three clothing stores, a bookstore, a Dollar General, a music store and several restaurants. Within sight are a Home Depot, Bi-Lo, Babys R Us and the Wal Mart Shopping Center is right down the hill.

WHY I MENTION IT: Time has not been kind to the Biltmore Square Mall and I don’t know why. The Asheville Mall, even with its renovation, is not nearly as beautiful as Biltmore Square. The Mall feels like a place to go luxury shopping. I really would like to keep Biltmore Square on the west side of town. I’m pleased to report that the Health Adventure will be moving to the Biltmore Square Mall. I’ve heard rumors of other new anchor clients considering it. To me this is great news.


First, its very accessible. The mall is located literally just off I-26 with an incredible traffic pattern. Or you can take Brevard Road and run parallel to I-26. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a few miles south. There are no less than four entrances to the mall parking lot.

Second, there are three huge parking lots. Third, since there are three entrances into the mall and access through at least four stores you can take advantage of this parking for easy access.

Fourth, the feel of the place. It is like walking into a fantasy world of shopping. The arches, skylight, marble, fountain and metalwork are truly magical.

Fifth, the mall has lost many nationwide chains. The upside of this is it makes room for lots of local business. You will find an amazing mix of national chains(yes, there are still some) and local shops. They offer a variety of merchandise that you won’t find across town at the Asheville Mall. The prices and variety will surprise and please you.

Sixth, it is the only mall in the Asheville area that still has a movie theater in it. Cinebarre is a value theater with three dollar movies.

Seventh, Biltmore Square is located in a growing area of the county. The immediate area itself is home to several smaller boutique shops and a variety of fine dining. If you get bored with Biltmore Square you can hop on I-26 and be at the area’s most appreciated shopping venues —literally–right off the next two exits on I-26.

Eighth,the mall is well connected online. It has an incredible web-site that features a shopping directory, events and links to store websites. You can follow it on Twitter and Facebook. They’ve got a blog and even list employment opportunities. So, even if you can’t visit the mall today hit their website and check it out.

THE STORES: Biltmore Square has a huge selection of stores. What I’m mentioning are only the highlights.To view them all click here to visit their directory. The ones I think you need to know about are Appalachian Naturals, Belk, Chick-Fil-A, CinebarreDillard’s Clearance Center(this one is a real treat), Little Asheville Raceway and Virtual Ambush arcade. Little Asheville Raceway and Virtual Ambush are two examples of what you won’t find anywhere else. Little Asheville Raceway is literally a miniature car race track(they also have video arcade games). Virtual Ambush is like a video arcade on steroids. And I don’t think the Asheville Mall has either of these.

Next time I’ll discuss the Westgate Shopping Center.

Of course,  these are my personal observations so I will miss a few. If there’s a shopping venue you like and feel I’ve missed let me know. This is why I use WordPress.com. You don’t have to register to comment.

If you are a business owner/competitor and feel I left you out let me know. I welcome input from everyone and anyone.



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