It looks like there are a few entrepreneurs in Asheboro area trying to give Raleigh a run for the money as the startup capital of North Carolina!
Recently we spoke with Four Saints Brewing Company: a budding craft microbrewery in Asheboro. Joel McClosky and Andrew Deming brought their project to Kickstarter to raise $45,000 to pay for larger equipment, to secure a location, and to handle the licensing fees. Their campaign was a success and they managed to raise over $52,000. We had a chance to speak to Joel McClosky about the brewery and the community that has supported it.
1) From the point of view of your potential customers, what problem are you trying to solve?
Joel: For the immediate Asheboro/Randolph County Four Saints Brewing Company provides the local residents, economy, and culture its first craft microbrewery…ever. This is significant because of the current trend of Asheboro’s downtown revitalization and rejuvenation projects and efforts. Gone are the days of manufacturing and hourly wage work in this downtown area. Buildings that were lying dormant are getting full facelifts and being repurposed into retail and living spaces. The burgeoning arts scene in Asheboro is also finding solid footing in this downtown area and in Asheboro on a whole. So where does craft beer come in?
Craft beer is a culture with mores and values in line with the direction of what many small and mid-size communities are coming back to in the recent recession’s (attempted) recovery. Consumers have been reminded that it is small business that makes a community thrive. Buying local matters. Buying local is usually better for the individual, family, and community on emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual levels. Local microbreweries, like Four Saints Brewing Company, provide the consumers this opportunity in the beer world.
Four Saints provides the local residents of Asheboro and Randolph County the opportunity to practice the Buy Local mentality in a different context, one they’ve never had the option to do before. It has instilled a sense of pride that this community, once deemed a dying city by Forbes magazine in 2008, is taking strides to fight against that moniker and be a Piedmont phoenix. The concentration of Four Saints to open in Asheboro has kindled and rekindled an innovative spirit in many. Asheboro is more than the NC Zoo and its Fall Festival.
The beer itself demonstrates that settling for what is made available is almost disrespectful to one’s self, family, and community. We work hard for our incomes, and we should be finicky about where and how we spend it. A recent report claims the minimum wage in the 1960s was worth about $10 in today’s money; today’s minimum wage is $7.25. We shouldn’t be spending our money on products that are less than wonderful or in places that have little to no concern for the local community. Four Saints Brewing Company adheres to these principles, and by providing great beer to the great people of the local community we hope to demonstrate that Asheboro deserves more, is capable of more, and is willing to work for more.
2) For whom do you try to solve this problem? Who will be your first customers?
Joel: Our first customers will be the Asheboro/Randolph County communities, businesses, and individuals. They have been the backbone of our limited success so far, and it will be through them we find greater success. The claim in our seal, “Great Beer for Great People”, is not just a catchy slogan. It is our motivator, our mission statement. When appropriate, feasible, and purposeful we intend to move past the Asheboro/Randolph County area and into the Triad regions, the Piedmont, and then the state. All the while, never losing focus on our home community and the support it gave and gives to us.
3) What sort of work did you do before starting your business?
Joel: Before Four Saints Brewing Company started the main foundation of the work was talking. No joke. Discussions regarding the vision and mission of the company stole many hours and emails. Pondering the overall concept of the brewery was debated and decided between work schedules. Conversations with local leaders and individuals of interest took place to determine if there was an interest in a microbrewery for the Asheboro/Randolph County area. Yes, lots of talking and primary source research. Some of this was also done via private tastings to get the name of the company out there, and to put the beers out for genuine, immediate market research and feedback. Needless to say, these private tastings were the harbingers of the public events we did to spread the news and beers of Four Saints Brewing.
Andrew’s background is mainly as a retail manager for the better part of a decade, with experience in horticulture. I have been a teacher and instructional coach for the past ten years, with experience in retail and wholesale sales.
4) How long have you lived in the Asheboro area, and what are your favorite places here that only locals know about?
Joel: I have lived in the Asheboro area going on nine years. I moved to Asheboro from Pittsburgh for a teaching job. Andrew has lived in the area for four years, and moved to Randleman from New York, near the NY/PA border. Some of our favorite Asheboro places are:
- Lumina Wine & Beer – currently the place to get craft beer and a tremendous supporter of Four Saints
- D’lishi Frozen Yogurt – can’t get enough
- Gingerbread House – unrivaled pastries and goodness
- Bistro 42 – great food and decent beer selection
- Circa Gallery – local artists and artisans gallery
- Fresh Cuts Butcher and Seafood – fresh, mostly raised by the butcher meats and local foods
5) How do you feel about being an entrepreneur in the Asheboro area?
Joel: Tremendous. The area is in a revival. The leaders of the city and interested individuals/groups are moving forward with a vision to make Asheboro a destination, rather than a waypoint. The creative energy and vigor is reaching a point of synergy with the traditional and standard. The support from the community as a whole has been nothing short of overwhelming, in a good way. People are excited about the future of this city, and I cannot say that has always been the case. When I moved here near nine years ago, the downtown was dead. There was no talk about new businesses. People left Asheboro every weekend, escaping to Greensboro for ‘something to do’.
This is changing. Trips to Greensboro, and other destination cities, still take place; Asheboro doesn’t have everything yet. Infrequent would be the appropriate adjective to describe these trips now. People are staying local more and more because of the options they have for things to do. This gives more credence to the opening of Four Saints Brewing Company in Asheboro. There is constantly something going on, and the Asheboro/Randolph County Chamber of Commerce keeps a pretty good calendar on their site noting each of the events. There’s not something for everyone every day, but there is something for someone most days. Knowing there is so much happening, and seeing the connection between most of them with craft beer, having a brewery in town seems to be a no brainer.
Plus, the community sees the strength of Asheboro increasing as they support local art, music, and business. This is giving rise to new ideas and options. For example, for the first time ever (I think) a group of actors will be performing Shakespeare in the Park in Bicentennial Park later this summer – something inconceivable even four years ago. The culture of Asheboro is changing, opening up, and welcoming to these creative endeavors. Asheboro/Randolph County understands the importance of what is known as the creative class. Just ask the potters of the area.
Keep your eyes on the center of the state, on Asheboro. Big things are coming – maybe not tomorrow, but very soon. Four Saints Brewing Company will be one of them.
For more information about the Four Saints Brewing Company, you can visit their website: http://www.foursaintsbrewing.com/