Friday, August 28, 2009

Big Changes at K-Mart

Recently I stopped into a Kmart and couldn't help but notice some significant renovations underway and yesterday all four Asheville Kmarts rejoined the Chamber. So when I saw someone mingling at the Business After Hours last night with a Kmart name tag on, I immediately sought him out to learn what is happening. I talked with Randy, a senior management leader with Kmart corporate / Sears, for quite a while about a "Rediscover Kmart" program.

To summarize Kmart in Asheville is:
  1. Remodeling stores with wider aisles and new fixtures, resulting in greater “shopability.”
  2. Expanding Home and Apparel items
  3. Lower prices on many items, thousands of items he said
The most interesting change is a program called mygofer:
Place an order online at or call them. They collect your order and notify you via text, email, or phone when your order is ready for pickup. If you want something that Kmart doesn't stock, they will get it from another store and have it waiting for you. No extra charge!

The mygofer program sounded really interesting and I plan on trying it out sometime soon!

United Way Day of Caring - Coming Soon

Press Release from United Way:


In response to increased needs at local non-profit organizations, Hands On Asheville-Buncombe has added a number of community projects to this year’s annual Day of Caring on Sept. 3.

Now in its 18th year, Day of Caring engages volunteers from local businesses in service to the community and acts as a kick-off to United Way’s annual campaign. Hands On Asheville-Buncombe, a program of United Way, connects individuals and small groups with flexible volunteer opportunities to meet critical needs at multiple nonprofits within the community.

Individuals who haven't already signed up for a Day of Caring project with their employer are invited to sign up for a project on their own. Space is limited and must be done by Aug. 31.

Some Day of Caring facts:
  • This year more than 1,300 volunteers from 55 companies as well as the public as at large will give their time at more than 70 nonprofits and schools
  • Last year during Day of Caring, volunteers donated more than 5,500 hours of service, saving community organizations more than $107,480.
  • In connection with Day of Caring, Hands On Asheville-Buncombe also held its annual School Supply drive with United Way’s Highlands Circle, Leadership Givers under age 40. This year, thanks to the support of the community, more than 500 children served by Children First, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Salvation Army will receive fully stocked backpacks.
United Way’s Campaign Kickoff
Join United Way as it kicks off its 2009 campaign and send the Day of Caring volunteers off in style on the morning of Sept. 3rd from 7:45-8:45 a.m. with a pep rally at Stephen's-Lee Center (30 George Washington Carver Ave).

This is a free event. RSVP at or call 255-0696.

Just Ducky on the move

Just Ducky Originals, LTD, an Asheville-based children’s clothing manufacturer with stores in Asheville and Waynesville announced today that it will be relocating its Asheville store from 100 Charlotte Street to 10 All Souls Crescent in Biltmore Village. The new location has a planned opening date of Friday, September 4th – Labor Day weekend.

“We are excited to become a part of Historic Biltmore Village and its quaint shopping atmosphere,” said Sallie Broach, owner of Just Ducky Originals. “The location at the entrance to the Biltmore Estate with its large tourist draw for Asheville is what helped convince us to move.”

Sallie started Just Ducky nearly 30 years ago in the attic of her Asheville home. The company has grown to a multi-million dollar venture with over 300 women selling the children’s line in home shows across the country. Two Just Ducky retail locations specialize in classic fashions for boys and girls, where you’ll find the Just Ducky line at 30%-50% off, as well as other beautiful children’s lines, unique baby gifts, and a large selection of accessories.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Llamas Invade Maggie Valley Club!

Maggie Valley Club receives some huge publicity, NBC Nightly News, for the new Llama Caddy program that recently started.

Here is the press release:
Starting next Thursday, August 20th , golfers will be able to have a llama be their caddy at Maggie Valley Club. Llamas and their handlers from will be available for afternoon tee times with golfers. Golfers will walk the course with their llama caddy. Each llama will have a handler with it who will attend to any needs of the llama throughout the 18 holes.

Llamas are South American animals related to camels that have been used as pack animals as far back as the Incan empire. Llamas are great on the golf course because instead of regular hooves, llamas have soft pads on their feet which do not tear up the delicate grass on the course. The llamas can each carry 2 sets of golf clubs. is located in Brevard, NC. The llamas of are currently working with Sherwood Forest Country Club and now Maggie Valley Club. has been featured on BBC News and this past Sunday was seen on the NBC Nightly News after the PGA Championship. In addition to golf caddies, also books special events and children’s parties.

The llama rounds will happen every Thursday at 5 pm now through October 29th. Rounds of golf will include 9 holes and cost $70 plus tax. The number of llamas is limited and they will ONLY be available on Thursday afternoons. Please call the Maggie Valley Club Pro Shop at 828-926-6013 to schedule your round!

Friday, August 14, 2009

YWCA Neighborhood Appreciation Day

The YWCA is one of many community organizations that really impress me. They do great work for our community and they do a great job communicating that work. If you don't know about or haven't been to their blog lately it is full of great stories that will inspire anyone to get involved!

They have a great community event coming up soon:

The YWCA of Asheville, located at 185 S. French Broad Ave., will hold “Neighborhood Appreciation Day” on Saturday, August 29th from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm. The YWCA encourages neighbors to stop by for snacks, tours, and coupons for free swim lessons. Visitors will be able to try out fitness equipment and classes including Yoga and Cardio Circuit. Water Aerobics and family swim will be offered in the YWCA’s solar-heated pool. In addition, the joining fee for Club W: The YWCA Health & Fitness Center will be waived for Neighborhood Appreciation Day. The mission of the YWCA is eliminating racism and empowering women. The YWCA offers a wide variety of programs aimed at bridging gaps in health care, childcare, earning power and education.

For more information visit the YWCA website,

Monday, August 10, 2009

Asheville Area Chamber's Health Insurance Pilot Program Passes NC House and Senate

The Health Insurance Pilot Program or H.B. 212 passed the North Carolina General Assembly on August 6, 2009 and was delivered to Governor Perdue on Friday, August 7, 2009 where it awaits her signature of approval.

The Health Insurance Pilot Program aims to allow the pooling of small and large businesses with hopes to demonstrate an affordable employer based health insurance plan for businesses. The pilot program could help to insure as many as 25,000 workers in the Asheville area.

The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Business Healthcare Roundtable have been working on a plan to provide affordable health insurance for local employees and employers for the past six years. The process has involved discussion with and input from large and small business in Buncombe County, physician groups, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and United Healthcare. “Asheville is comprised of many great small businesses. We have long recognized the rising cost of health insurance and the inability of many of our small businesses to afford insurance for their employees. We are excited that Asheville can lead in the attempt to help bring affordable health insurance to North Carolina,” said Richard J. Lutovsky the President & CEO of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber employees and leaders from Western North Carolina are now working diligently to put the pilot program into practice. Many of Buncombe County’s largest employers will be participating in the final design of the product. H.B. 212 received unanimous support of all the members of the Western North Carolina delegation. The bill’s primary sponsors are Representatives Bruce Goforth, Susan Fisher, Ray Rapp and Jane Whilden. “This is a great opportunity for Western North Carolina to be the first pilot program in the state that allows employers to work together to reduce health insurance costs and make it easier for our companies to provide the insurance that so many residents need today,” said Representative Bruce Goforth. Senator Martin Nesbitt led the efforts in the North Carolina Senate.

Click here to read the full legislation!

Divvy for Life Launches from Asheville

In case you missed the story in the Asheville Citizen-Times on Sunday, a new board game has been launched by some Asheville based parents called: Divvy for Life. The game aims to teach children the basics of money management so that they can learn healthy financial habits early in life.

Read the Citizen-Times story on Divvy here.

TEACHING YOUR KIDS BASIC BUDGET HABITS: New Product Empowers Children with Financial Knowledge

Three concerned parents from the Asheville area have created a simple but effective interactive product dedicated to helping other parents teach their children how to save, spend, invest, and donate money, more relevant than ever in today’s lagging economy.

Divvy for Life, its name based on “divvying up your money,” is a tool for parents and a game for children ages four and older. Inventor Jon Corbin of Weaverville recently developed the concept for his own youngsters, Walker, age 6, and Lauren, age 3, so they would have a solid understanding of how to manage budgets at an early age. Walker is now proud to say, “I know as much about money as my Dad.”

The Divvy program has been endorsed by the CPA Association of North Carolina and is featured on their website – This comprehensive effort to promote financial literacy with children is also supported by State Senator Josh Stein of Wake, NC.

“My wish,” said Corbin, “is simply that my children become well balanced and understand money enough that they might avoid all the stress that is caused by making poor financial choices.”

Maureen Scullin, Managing Partner of Asheville’s MarketImpact Marketing & Promotion, enthusiastically endorsed the concept on behalf of her own twin daughters, Maddie and Brooke, age 9, and became a partner in Divvy for Life in 2007. Scullin is one of the marketing innovators for Mission Hospitals’ award-winning Lighten-Up 4 Life program.

“Divvy will help all our children make good financial decisions throughout their lives,” said Scullin, “and insure a happier, healthier financial future.”

Tony Delia, president and creative director of The Delia Design Co., is the third Divvy partner. In partnering with Corbin and Scullin, Delia was equally concerned about his six-year-old daughter’s financial literacy and says that now Sydney has learned the basics of how to intelligently divide up her funds, she’s on her way to solid lifelong money habits.

Delia created the colorful Divvy box design, contents and all graphic materials for promotion, which will be launched in July.

Details are available on the website at The suggested retail price is $25 for the entire boxed kit, plus shipping. For ordering information, call 828.768.3025.

Ultimately, the partners plan to seek financial support from corporate sponsors to launch a nation-wide program that will deliver this important message to youngsters, their parents, schools, websites, organizations, and financial institutions throughout the country.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Best Boomer Town: Asheville, NC

The internet radio show Best Boomer Towns hosted by Nancy Shonka recently featured Asheville, NC as one of the best towns for the boomer generation to retire to. The Chamber's own Jane Anderson, VP of Member Services, was a guest on the show. They covered all things Asheville: climate, arts, food, and retirement.

Check it out here or download your own MP3 file:

Unted Way Fundraising Event: Mystery in the Mountains

This sounds like a fun event that raises funds for The United Way of Asheville & Buncombe County. It is at the new Grand Bohemian Hotel in Biltmore Village on August 27. The evening includes a seated dinner and an interactive show for only $60 per person, pretty reasonable considering the entertainment and quality of food you will receive.

Hope to see you all there.