Brittney Lofthouse — Staff Writer

After taking over Appalachian Ace Hardware on the west side of town, Cortney and Josh Patrick wanted to work with their fellow business owners to bring a unique event to that part of town to help shape the downtown area’s identity and let the community put faces behind the businesses serving the area. This Saturday will mark the third annual Westside Merchant Block Party and give businesses on the westside of Franklin an opportunity to thank customers for their continued support. 

The event is sponsored by Curtis TV, Appalachian Ace Hardware, Fox Mercantile, Macon Rental, and Lazy Hiker Brewing Company, with all Westside merchants encouraged to participate.

“We want to give back to our customers and let them know that we appreciate them choosing local businesses over box stores or internet ordering,” said Josh Patrick. “We are a close knit community which runs on us supporting them as much as them supporting us. As for Ace personally, we have continued remodeling our store, adding new products, and developing the garden center with local and organic options so we appreciate everyone being patient with us as we grow and remaining loyal customers.”

This year’s event will feature a bounce house, a T-shirt tie-dyeing booth, a planting project at Ace, and many other other children’s activities. For the adults there will be games such as corn hole and frisbee golf, product demos, free give-aways, and food.

Each year, the Westside merchants select a nonprofit to give back to during the block party. This year, merchants have selected the Nantahala Hiking Club, who are in their 50th year as an organization. Activities such as the t-shirt dyeing booth will have a small fee associated with them with 100% of the proceeds going to benefit the club. Food will also be provided and donations will be asked in return, also going to the hiking club. 

Lazy Hiker, along with the other Westside businesses have once again come together to brew a beer that not only supports the community but also raises awareness for what they have to offer. It is being called the “Westside Wit” and is a traditional style Belgian Wit with flavors of orange peel, coriander and a touch of spice.

The event will also feature food, and lots of give-a-ways donated by local businesses. For the second year, Tony Curtis, owner of RadioShack, will be the DJ for the day-long block party and will be playing music for everyone in attendance.

Chris and Amanda Shaw, owners of Macon Rental wanted to help host the event again this year to showcase all that Franklin has to offer.

“Chris and I, along with my parents, love our community and want to thank you for supporting our business and for those who don’t know Macon Rental Co., we love this chance to introduce ourselves,” said Amanda Shaw. “Outreach is not only an important thing for businesses to do for our community but it’s also important for our hearts. Being in small business is challenging at times and this helps us get back to the core of why we love Macon County, the people.”

For Nick Potts, owner of Fox Mercantile, the annual block party gives the town an identity and helps to bolster the economy and market the businesses involved.

“My hope is that West Franklin can be a smaller version of West Asheville,” said Potts. “When I was a boy, I remember people calling West Asheville ‘worst Asheville.’ It was kind of run down and behind the times, but people saw potential and revived it. I can see opportunity in old things as do many people, so that is my hope for West Franklin – a kind of a restoration – similar to restoring that old Camaro from 1967. “

The block party starts at noon and goes until 3 p.m. The event will take place in the parking lot of Appalachian Ace Hardware.