Shopping in Asheville: 18 Local Asheville Brands You Must Try!
If you’re visiting Asheville or even moving here, you’re likely to be impressed with our many beverage options. From beer and coffee to kombucha and ginger beer, we have plenty for those who want to partake in the local drinks.
An interesting fact, however, is that we’re also a place that is fiercely local and loyal to our other brands, and if you know you’ve got a need for a gift basket coming up, you’ll do well to check out the options here.
While this is far from an exhaustive list of local Asheville brands, finding a way to try some of these can be a fun little scavenger hunt as you explore all the shops in Asheville, both downtown and beyond.
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1. Crunch Into Some Poppy Popcorn
In Asheville, seeing the bright-colored packaging of a Poppy bag is a sign that you’re about to have an amazing snack. Poppy Popcorn makes high-quality, delightfully flavored popcorn in flavors you probably haven’t had before: on the sweet side of things, bite down on some Chai Masala corn or some Spring Confetti, or some Dark Chocolate Cherry.
When it comes to the savory options, try a Pimento Cheese, Dill Pickle, or Carolina BBQ popcorn, or the simple and wonderful Parmesan and Black Pepper. My personal favorite is the Asheville Mix, which is both the salted caramel corn and the white cheddar corn, all jumbled in one bag – this salty-sweet mix is addictive if you give it a try!
Reviewers comment that every piece of popcorn has a good amount of flavoring and that it is an overall delicious luxury.
2. Take a Minute to Relax in an ENO Hammock
ENO, or Eagles Nest Outfitters, is a local company in Asheville that offers a variety of hammocks and chairs, bug nets, and rain tarps that are well suited to camping but also to any other day you want to spend outside.
The reason why their hammocks have become ubiquitous, dotting the trees on college campuses and campsites all over the country, is the incredible materials they use. Their thin and strong ripstop fabrics and heavy-duty, ultra-strong cords help these hammocks hold one or more people.
They rarely, if ever, rip and are easy to secure to a variety of strong supports, like trees, without damaging the tree or having the hammock fall down. They are also incredibly lightweight – the lightest available hammock is only 5.8 ounces, even with a large total area of fabric and sturdy aluminum toggles.
If you love open-air sleeping or relaxing, an ENO hammock or other accessory might just be the perfect fit for you.
3. Give in to the Temptation for Lusty Monk Mustard
You might recognize Lusty Monk Mustard from the fact that they are used in many different restaurants in town – the name is memorable, and the flavors even more so! These whole-grain mustards make even people who generally turn down the yellow squeeze bottle opt in for a little mustard.
From the Temptation Honey Mustard to the Burn in Hell Chipotle Mustard to the original, the flavors are just way more complex and delicious than the standard mustard. Visit the Lusty Monk website for a bunch of fun recipes that pop so much more with a high-quality whole-grain mustard blend.
Reviewers talk about how the depth of flavor is stronger than many other mustards.
4. Heat Things Up With Better Thymes Hot Sauce
Better Thymes aspires to make truly top-notch products: they use locally sourced, plant-based, and organic ingredients, particularly focusing on using unrefined sugars when their products need them and offering clearly designated gluten-free items.
Their current line-up includes their various hot sauces, plant-based trail bars, and gluten-free granola. Try their Roasted Cayenne hot sauce, their Strawberry Jalapeño, their Pineapple Habanero, or the Smokey Chipotle – or make it a fun evening with a gift set or mini-bottle set that lets you sample each one.
Like many other brands in Asheville, they’re committed to making products that source every ingredient wisely, so you can be proud to serve this spicy condiment with any dish. Every flavor becomes a favorite when it’s created with such love!
As far as Asheville shops that carry them, I’ve personally seen them at the downtown Asheville Saturday farmer’s market, and I’d imagine you can find them at other markets around town. Having great gluten-free and vegan options makes them even more well-suited to the Asheville scene.
5. Taste the Journey at French Broad Chocolates
If you’re a coffee drinker, you’ve probably run into the ideas of Fair Trade before. Coffee purchasers will get to know the original farmers who are growing the coffee and create agreements that keep more money in the hands of the farmers and help tell a story of the way these beans came to be.
French Broad Chocolates has aspired to the same level of supply chain transparency and knowledge with their wide collection of “Bean-to-Bar” chocolates. When doing a little Asheville shopping for gifts, this is one of the best spots to go.
They source chocolate themselves, make single-origin bars that highlight just how varied and complex chocolate can be, and then make incredible bonbon collections full of caramels, truffles, and other filled confections that highlight the incredible flavors of the chocolate itself.
They are also packaged in a classy and lovely way that ships well, so you’ve got lots of options for trying their sweets. French Broad Chocolates gets high marks for being a wonderful place for desserts, but you’ll really taste the difference compared to many other brands when you delve into their single-origin chocolates – truly unique and complex flavors!
6. Make It a Memory with Plum Print
This local Asheville company isn’t a walk-in storefront, but it solves a major problem for parents, both local and anywhere. Years of preschool and elementary school can yield hundreds of adorable artwork items, but they take up space and are prone to wrinkling or damage when they are just stored in stacks around the house.
Enter Plum Print, which sends you a special box to fill with art, and then they professionally photograph and digitize the art, making it into a beautiful coffee-table book that saves space and is honestly much easier to enjoy than loose pieces of art.
Children will be thrilled to see their art immortalized, and parents and grandparents both love getting to see the progression in their child or grandchild’s creative output. Plum Print puts a smile on the faces of busy families and fills children with pride.
It’s well worth supporting this local brand if you end up finding yourself in need of such a service. Many customers mention in their reviews how wonderful the customer service is, making it a real step up from having to DIY a scrapbook or digitize a bunch of art yourself.
7. Take Home the Spicy Goodness of AppalaChai Tea Concentrate
You’ll find coffee shops and restaurants all around town featuring a chai drink that comes from the AppalaChai company. The company focuses on the thing they do best: an Appalachia-inspired rendition of Indian chai, brewed and spiced and prepared as a concentrate that can be purchased at local stores or ordered at coffee shops and restaurants (some restaurants even mix it with alcohol for various cocktails!).
The flavor profile is clearly rather pleasing, as you can find them all over town. Sample this amazing mix and take some home to share. At least one reviewer loves the notes of ginger in this chai mix particularly, but you’ll have to taste it to see what element of its spicy flavor is best to you!
8. Plant Local with Sow True Seed
One of the coolest ways to support local is to plant some of the many GMO-free varieties of seed that Sow True Seed cultivates right here in Western NC. They offer over 500 types of seeds, from vegetables and fruits to herbs and flowers.
They want you to have access to heirloom and open-pollinated organic seeds, which make it possible to collect seeds from your crops and sow year after year. While some of the seeds will be a little more expensive than the ones at the home improvement store, they keep on giving for years afterward.
This company sees seed saving as a path to a resilient food system and seed diversity! If you don’t remember to save some seeds, though, they’ll happily sell you a few more of their top-notch varieties, and you’re likely to be so happy with the advice on using the seeds and with the final products that you’ll be back for more next year.
Reviewers mention that the seeds are very fresh and that the customer service representatives really want gardeners to be successful, bringing their substantial knowledge of plants to bear.
9. Taste Your Way Through the Asheville Bee Charmer
One of my favorite and most unique shops in Asheville is the Asheville Bee Charmer. While I’ll always be a fan of local honey bought directly from the farmer, there’s something delightful about finding so many different varieties of honey and infusions of honey in one place.
This spot is perfect for aesthetically pleasing and delicious gifts, including the various local flavors of honey – Wildflower, Tupelo, Sourwood, Clover, and Orange Blossom, for example. The pure honey isn’t all they have, though: they infuse honey with everything from chai, cocoa, hot spices, and Tulsi rose to whiskey, coffee, vanilla, and mint.
With honey useful in so many kinds of cooking as well as a sweetener for coffee, tea, and cocktails, picking any one of these options can yield a truly unique flavor experience. Tiny bottles can make for a fun sample pack for your loved ones, and you can sample before you buy at the fun honey bar.
People tend to find something that they would enjoy when shopping at the Asheville Bee Charmer, even skincare and beauty products made with beeswax!
10. Steep In the Flavor with Asheville Tea Company Teas
Asheville Tea Company combines the kinds of tea that you have to source from around the world with a variety of herbals and botanicals that can be grown locally, including hibiscus, ginger, turmeric, rosemary, chamomile, calendula, echinacea, elderflower, and blackberry leaf.
Dried and blended in a way that allows them to make flavorful, rich cups of tea, these teas are prepared to be consumed while still fresh, making them a great gift or a great fit for a souvenir. When you’re looking at various options for where to shop in Asheville, you’ll find that many gift shops offer Asheville Tea Company products.
11. Spice Up Life With Spicewalla Blends
I received my first Spicewalla spices from my real estate agent after we closed on the house, a little housewarming gift, and now I’m such a fan that I give housewarming gifts the same way. By using well-sourced, high-quality, often organic spices and mixing them in ways that make food simply pop with flavor, Spicewalla packs a ton of value into each signature little tin.
Just a little of any of the seasonings can make meals that have grown ordinary into something special, all without adding a bunch of extra time or cooking technique. Spicewalla is great about local partnerships too, partnering, for instance, with award-winning restaurant Chai Pani to create Indian food essentials spice containers that help you recreate some of your favorite Indian dishes at home with chef-approved spices.
Their shop in the Grove Arcade is a fun place to stop by, smell the freshness, and walk out with unique gifts, all while also exploring the many other options for shopping in Asheville’s Grove Arcade.
12. Make Your Movie Night Great with Asheville Pretzel Company
If you aren’t in the mood for that Poppy Popcorn, another incredible Asheville snack comes from the Asheville Pretzel Company. I first tried these pretzels because I saw them at the counter at a local grocery store, Ingles, and my family polished them off immediately during an afternoon hangout with aunts and uncles.
Since then, it’s pretty much standard practice to pick up a couple bags when we see them for sale. Their goofy slogan, “Creating a Need For Beer,” is a perfect representation of their charming and irreverent brand style.
With flavors like Mountain Ranch, Mustard (made with Lusty Monk Mustard!), and Original with Sea Salt, these crispy mini pretzels are a great addition to any gift or to the car for the road trip home.
13. Make Home Barbecue Pop With 12 Bones Barbecue Sauce
I first tried 12 Bones when it was in an unassuming and small property in the early River Arts District, but even then, people knew about 12 Bones. The food drew a long line out the door during their very limited hours, and even the President of the United States at the time stopped by when in Asheville!
If you can’t come to their now larger locations for a drink of their locally brewed beer and an amazing meal, you can still sample the glory with their tasty sauces, which are available in to-go bottles.
I personally live for the Blueberry Chipotle – it’s the sweet and spicy combo that works for me. However, plenty of other people are bigger fans of their Spicy Vinegar, Sweet Tomato, Hot Jalapeño, or Pineapple Habanero. Find your favorite the delicious way (by sampling at the source), and then take that one home.
14. Make It a Sweet Day with Imladris Farm Jam
I first encountered Imladris Farm jam at Early Girl Eatery, and there’s a reason the name stuck with me: it’s delicious! I learned, however, that the roots of this farm are deep. It’s situated in a farming community where multiple generations of farmers have tilled the soil – they now count seven generations who have had a presence on the farmland!
They want to grow with organically approved products and to keep the land healthy so that the soil can be used for many years to come. As their jams have grown in popularity, they’ve worked with other local berry farms to source more fruit for the preserves, all of which are still in the area and care about the same priorities.
On their website, you can find blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry jams, as well as apple butter and their Berry Best Jam, a mixed berry combo you have to taste to believe. Top-notch options for your homemade bread for breakfast!
15. Discover Lotion Candles at Element Tree Skincare
In the heart of downtown is an Asheville shop selling a cool product for any gift or gift basket: lotion candles! These delightfully scented candles melt into a warm oil/wax that works great as lotion.
When the owner of Element Tree realized how much people loved her candles with their soft and pleasant scents and excellent quality, she created a whole line of items and has shops in multiple locations now.
In addition to the beautiful and functional candles, you’ll find scented hair mists, essential oil blends, cleaning products, balms, and massage oils. There are bath salts, clay masks, and even natural bug repellent! What they all have in common is that they are locally and lovingly crafted and are inspired by our beautiful mountains.
16. Launch Your Sourdough Efforts with Sourhouse
While many of the products on this list are consumables, I like to mention Sourhouse because what they are doing actually enables people to buy less products. They make high-quality equipment that helps you grow and maintain a sourdough starter at home and keep it happy so that you can make bread yourself – they even give out sourdough starter for free!
They see this fermented bread as a great way to make something yourself at home that will give you pride and be delicious. If you have a baker in your family, their cool climate-control products keep sourdough starter at the ideal temperature and reduce the mess and fuss of keeping it happy.
17. Try the Extraordinary at the Gourmet Chip Company
In downtown Asheville, one sandwich shop, the Gourmet Chip Company, stands out because they offer made-to-order potato chips. I had to try it because I love even the most mass-produced chips! They offer a variety of to-go bags that include proprietary spice blends on excellent potato chips, but if you get the chance, you’ve gotta get in-house, prepared-to-order chips.
I got an insanely delicious Italiano Modena chip dish; it’s kettle-style potato chips covered in cheese, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, herbs, and a tasty balsamic reduction. It felt like the potato chip had been elevated to an art form!
While some of the fresh ingredients don’t translate to the to-go bags of chips, the same care is shown in creating fresh, flavorful spicing mixes that mean every one of these chips is worth the indulgence. I recommend it for the potato chip lover in any group.
18. Farmers’ Market Brands: You Can’t Go Wrong!
The farmers’ markets of Asheville are a wonderful way to sample local brands that are thriving but aren’t choosing to invest in brick-and-mortar. Make no mistake, by the time a brand is thriving enough to be featured in the River Arts District Market or the North Asheville Tailgate Market, they have perfected a variety of produce or products, so if you want local brands, you’ll find them in abundance. It’s a great place to start when figuring out where to shop in Asheville.
Even better is that they keep more of the profits to pour into their business when they don’t have to staff, light, and rent a storefront – not bad! From local goat cheese and homemade hummus to flavors of pickles you’ve never seen before and locally made ice pops, you’ll find a wide variety of prepared items that are recognizable names among Asheville regulars.
This is also often a great place to get soaps and bath bombs: these items are also sold through various local stores in downtown, but again, if you can buy them from the soapmaker herself or himself, you might end up supporting them with more of the total cost of the product.
When I visit, I particularly like to find a great local farm to support by buying honey: sweeteners are a staple of most kitchens, and using the local stuff is sometimes associated with less allergies!