Stepping into the large two-story building that is Village Antiques at Biltmore, the curious and familiar alike are always in for a surprise. The showcase floors are filled wall-to-wall with wondrous items that tell the stories of both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, from the southeast United States to the south of France.
“It’s really kind of like a museum when you walk in here,” said Terry Powell, co-owner of Village Antiques at Biltmore. “I love the hunt for these items, and I love watching the people coming in and responding to the pieces that we find. They get as excited as we are about these pieces.”
Powell and his wife, Zenda Addis, opened the business in 1989, the same year they relocated to Asheville from South Carolina. At that time, and even today, Powell was involved in real estate. But, he always had a side business dealing antiques.
“Back then, we had been coming to Asheville for a few years and just always loved the mountains,” Powell said. “So, really it was just a matter of choosing the mountains. We chose this building because it was so close to Biltmore Village, but also near the downtown corridor. It was an old building, but it’s a beautiful building and had so much potential.”
Powell got into antiques at an early age. He grew up on a tobacco farm and wasn’t necessarily exposed to antiques as a child. But he discovered his a love for antiques during his time in the Marine Corps (1969–1972).
“I just think it’s in your blood,” Powell said.
“There was a gunnery sergeant that was buying and selling antiques. And I bought something from him with the idea that I could sell it at some point and make some money. Then, after I got out of the Marines, I went back to Chapel Hill and was buying antiques at an auction on Saturday nights, selling the items to professors. It became something I really enjoyed.”
Throughout the early years of Village Antiques at Biltmore, Powell would travel to England in search of antiques, only to ship back the items he found to the Asheville shop. Then, he started wandering around France looking for pieces, a trip he still takes often.
“We’ve had lots of unusual and unique pieces here,” Powell said. “It never ceases to amaze what comes through that door. You see so many fabulous things, these 18th and 19th century things that you may never find again.”
Powell noted he gets asked a lot when he’ll finally slow down and retire.
“It’s a love and a passion for me,” Powell smiled. “Why would I retire? Every day is a treasure hunt. I love what I do. We love this business and everything about it.”
With 2019 marking the 30th anniversary of Village Antiques at Biltmore, Powell marveled at how fast time has flown in his antique endeavors and time residing in Western North Carolina.
“Thirty years here has felt more like five because it just has gone so quickly,” Powell said. “There have been so many changes in Asheville. It’s just been so wonderful being here, being part of those changes, and seeing it all.”