Written by Jennifer Fitzgerald | Photos by Anthony Harden
Asheville’s Bruce Tompkins doesn’t wait until the first week of November to start putting up the holiday decorations in his retail store…
Christmas carols serenade you as you walk in the front door. A salutation of “Merry Christmas” is directed at you with a friendly smile. A countdown with the number of days to Christmas is prominently posted. And these are the greetings you receive very day of the year at The Olde World Christmas Shoppe.
Bruce Tompkins is the owner of the store that offers “everything you ever wanted for Christmas.” Ornaments and collectibles in a wide range of price points are showcased in the circa early-1900 house located at 5 Boston Way in Asheville’s Historic Biltmore Village.
Tompkins was born in South Georgia in the little town of Thomasville, Georgia, also the birthplace of actress Joanne Woodward. He likes to tell young people that he is from the same town as Paul Newman’s wife. Oftentimes, they look at him at ask, “Who’s Paul Newman?”
Tompkins, who attended Emory University in Atlanta, previously had a career in marketing with Southern Bell that kept him in Atlanta until they offered him an early retirement.
“We bought several of these buildings [in Biltmore Village] in Asheville about a year before I retired,” remembers Tompkins. “We didn’t move up here until 1992. We bought these buildings in 1989 and opened the Christmas Shoppe in 1989. And then decided—why don’t we move up there? Our six children had basically left home. Two were still in college at the time. It worked out well. I’m so glad I’m not in Atlanta right now. It’s a great place for young people to find jobs, but it’s miserable as far as traffic is concerned.”
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