Good morning and greetings from Boone, North Carolina.
My husband and I are here for our son’s graduation from Appalachian State University. I just couldn’t let the festivities begin without telling you a little about this charming place, where we’ve been coming a couple of times a year for the past four years.
Not everyone knows about Boone or Appalachian State. App State entered the national consciousness in 2007 when its then-two-time Division I-AA national championship football team beat the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in the season opener. It was the largest upset in college football history and landed the Mountaineers on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Later in the season, they won the championship for the third year in a row.
Appalachian State sits high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, in what’s known as the Ski Capital of the South. The student population is about 15,000. One of the institution’s most famous alumni is Steven J. Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics.
Boone itself is artsy and bohemian. It’s surrounded by a number of elite resorts, so there’s a cultural dichotomy that sometimes causes friction on the local political scene.
I think what stands out most about downtown Boone is the absence of chain stores and restaurants. Up and down King Street, Boone’s main avenue, you’ll find one character-filled small business after another.
On King Street, you’ll find no Gap; just The Jean Pool. There’s no Abercrombie; there’s the Mast General Store. I was sad to see that the second-hand store, Love Me Two Times, has closed its doors. There’s no CVS; just Boone Drug, which still has a lunch counter. There’s no Panera; it’s Our Daily Bread. There’s no Hair Cuttery; there’s Split Endz. No Starbucks, only Higher Grounds and The Beanstalk. No Chipotle; only Black Cat Burrito. The closest Chili’s is an hour away, which is fine because there’s the The Boone Saloon. And if are you are looking for a cheap place to stay on King Street, you’ll find no Days Inn; only a nondescript motel with a sign that reads: 2 people 1 bed $29.
What more can I say?