Right in the heart of Downtown Asheville, tucked in the depths of the picturesque Grove Arcade building, is the Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar. It’s an escape hatch for when life may get a little too hectic. And when an urge arises from within to open a good book, you can sip on an adult beverage and simply unwind.
“The ambiance of downtown can be a whirlwind when it’s busy. But, you turn the corner and head for the Grove Arcade, and it’s a little quieter here. You can just kind of breathe out and relax,” said Donna Wright, co-owner of Battery Park Books.
Wright and her husband, Thomas, found themselves in Asheville 12 years ago. Thomas had a dream of someday opening a bookstore. He decided to go for it following his retirement and the couple’s relocation to Western North Carolina from the coast.
“We realized early on that we would need something other than books to make it sustainable. He’s a bibliophile and I’m the champagne girl. So, we decided to combine the two,” Donna laughed. “We love history and old buildings. The Grove Arcade is where we wanted to be—this beautiful space filled with all kinds of independent businesses.”
The labyrinthine space features over 30,000 books and a wide array of champagnes and sparkling wines (and a full wine list, too). It’s no wonder Battery Park has become a “go to” spot for locals and visitors to find a small slice of solitude in a wild and wondrous world. Last year, they also added an outdoor patio space to soak in the warmth and sunshine of Southern Appalachia.
“You come in here if you’ve been someplace that’s really rowdy and fun, and then you’re looking for something a little more subdued and tranquil. That’s what we hope to do here, anyways,” Donna said. “And the walls are covered with velvet curtains and all these books, which makes for great sound absorbers. Sometimes in a loud bar or restaurant you can’t hear anything. But in here, you can actually hear yourself.”
When asked why they would open their business in Downtown Asheville, Donna took a moment to ponder and reflect on the unique vibrancy in this part of a bustling metropolis.
“It’s just this European vibe that resides in downtown. Everybody is walking everywhere rather than driving everywhere,” she said. “All of these laid back people walking by and enjoying their day. And you’ll hear them say, ‘Let’s go in and just have a glass of champagne.’ We love that casual vibe where you can just stop and enjoy yourself rather than being in a hurry to get to somewhere else.”
Now in business over a decade, the Wrights still look forward to strolling into Battery Park Books and simply taking it all in. They have built a cozy atmosphere for any and all to enjoy and immerse themselves in.
“I like it when someone will say to us, ‘This is our favorite place in the city’ or ‘We’ve never been to a place like this.’ It’s exciting to see people embrace what we envisioned—people really understand what we’re going for,” Donna said. “Downtown Asheville is growing all the time, which also means all kinds of new businesses are coming in, too. And the fact we’re able to survive and grow as a business says a lot about what we set out to do, and how people continue to support what we’ve created.”