Have you ever thought of a dollar as a vote? The average American will spend $800 on gifts this holiday season, and with each dollar, consumers have the choice to cast their vote for businesses that care about their communities and the environment.
Appalachia is home to thousands of locally-owned businesses that have been sustaining the region for decades. Step into one of these businesses, and all the certificates and thank you letters on the wall from local organizations are a testament to how much these businesses give back to their communities. From feed stores to book stores, from greasy spoons to vegetarian restaurants, these businesses are a critical part of life in the southern mountains.
One of the most direct benefits these businesses provide is that they keep money in our communities. One study in Maine found that locally-owned businesses kept 45% of their money in the community and another 9% in the state, while only 14% of the money from big chain stores stayed in the local and state economy. In-state spending by local businesses included purchasing from local suppliers, investing money in local banks, making charitable contributions, and generating profits for local owners, while the big stores sent their bulk of their income out to distant suppliers and corporate headquarters.
Because the owners of local businesses live in the mountains, they also care about our environment and quality of life. Almost 1,000 businesses have demonstrated their commitment to the environment by joining the Appalachian Voices Business League and advertising in the Appalachian Voice. These businesses’ owners know that a healthy environment is good for business, bringing billions of dollars to our region every year.
For shoppers looking for holiday gifts, there are plenty of community-minded, locally-owned businesses to choose from in the mountains. In North Carolina alone, over 400 businesses are members of the Appalachian Voices Business League. They include the Mast General Store, which originated outside Boone, North Carolina, and now has six locations in the Carolinas that carry a mix of old-timey mercantile items, traditional clothing, and rugged outdoor wear.
For the outdoor enthusiasts on your list, the southern mountains are blessed with numerous top-quality, locally-owned outfitters, including Footsloggers in Boone and Diamond Brand Outdoors in Asheville and Arden. Their staffs are trained specifically to provide you with what you need to get out and enjoy the mountains, even if you are new to the outdoors.
Find gifts for bicycle enthusiasts at one of our region’s great bike shops, like Sycamore Cycles in Pisgah Forest and Biowheels in Asheville. Both of these stores have donated mountain bikes to Appalachian Voices for our annual raffle, helping us to raise thousands of dollars to protect the places where their customers ride.
When shopping for the kids on your list, locally-owned toy stores are the best places to find truly special, quality gifts. Dancing Bear Toys in Asheville has a selection of toys from around the world and prides itself on selling “toys that tickle the imagination”.
For a special gift for mom or dad, our region’s many galleries offer gifts that will be treasured for a lifetime. The Seven Sisters Gallery in Black Mountain and the New Morning Gallery in Asheville are known throughout the southern mountains for their one-of-a-kind fine art and crafts, including pottery, jewelry, sculpture, paintings, glassware, and metalwork. The Wildwoods Gallery in Boone offers a collection of fine, handcrafted Old Hickory Furniture. In the gallery, you can purchase furniture off the showroom floor or create pieces that fit your personal style.
This is just a sample of the many outstanding community-based businesses in the Appalachian region. For a full list of businesses who have confirmed their commitment to the environment by joining the Appalachian Voices Business League go to
Vote for these businesses with your dollar this holiday season, and when you do, you will be casting a vote for strong communities, clean air, and healthy forests in the southern mountains.
Some Holiday Gift Ideas
From the Appalachian Voice Staff
Ok, we’ll be honest – we’re spotlighting some great businesses here, not just because they are great businesses, but because they helped us make this issue of the Appalachian Voice possible. We hope you will support these businesses when you do your holiday shopping, as well as our advertisers and all of the business partners of Appalachian Voices. For a complete list of Appalachian Voices Business Members, visit www.appvoices.org/bmembers.asp.
American’s Who Tell The Truth
A simple Google search for a picture of Wendell Berry yielded the wholly unexpected and very pleasant surprise found on the cover of this issue of the Appalachian Voice. That portrait of Wendell Berry painted by Maine artist, Rob Shetterly, is part of a collection of more than 60 Americans who had the courage and integrity to speak the truth in difficult times. In addition to Wendell Berry, the collection includes portraits – as well as quotations - of American heroes from Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks to Mother Jones and Cesar Chavez.
The “Americans Who Tell the Truth” project grew out of artist Rob Shetterly’s anger and grief in the days after 9/11, as well as his hope that something good might come in the wake of that terrible day. With the first 60 portraits complete, he has now created a traveling exhibit with venues set up by volunteers across America. If you’re wondering how you can support this excellent enterprise, purchasing card sets for yourself or as gifts through the website is one great way to do just that. You can also help to schedule the traveling exhibit in your community or make tax-deductible donations to help keep the exhibit on the road. Information on purchasing cards and supporting the exhibit is available on their website at
Editor’s note: there are no upcoming showings of this traveling exhibit scheduled for the Appalachian region – though Maine and New York seem to be doing quite well. Somehow I’m convinced that there are a few enterprising Appalachian Voice readers out there with the spirit and wherewithal to correct that unfortunate situation.
Raven Maps and Images
The most prominent piece of art in Appalachian Voices’ main office is not something one would normally consider to be “art”. But the 10’ by 3’ map of North Carolina, designed by Oregon-based Raven Maps and Images, is so beautiful that it’s hard to think of it as anything other than art. A small portion of that map is printed on page 10, but that small portion really doesn’t do the cartographers and designers at Raven Maps justice – you have to see the entirety to really appreciate the skill and aesthetic sense of its designers.
If any of your loved ones are map lovers like us, then a gift from Raven Maps could be just what you’re looking for. The staff at Raven Maps and Images can help you select the map that is best suited for your recipient, and they will even include a personal message to the recipient. You can place an order over the phone (800-237-0798) or on their website at www.ravenmaps.com. You can even fax a gift list to them with your message for each person at 541-773-6834, or mail your list to: Raven Maps & Images, P.O. Box 850, Medford, OR 97501. Samples of the complete inventory of maps are available on Raven’s website.
The more scholarly readers of the Appalachian Voice will almost certainly love a subscription to the Appalachian Journal, a cross-disciplinary, peer-reviewed quarterly published out of Appalachian State University. In fact, the interview with Wendell Berry in this issue of the Voice is reprinted from that journal. In addition to interviews, the Appalachian Journal features scholarly studies of history, politics, economics, culture, folklore, literature, music, and ecology, as well as poetry and reviews of books, films, and recordings dealing with the region of the Appalachian Mountains.
To subscribe to APPALACHIAN JOURNAL (4 issues), send $24.00 to APPALACHIAN JOURNAL, Belk Library, ASU Box 32026, Boone, NC 28608. For more information about gift subscriptions and back issues, visit the website: