Firestorm Books & Coffee

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Firestorm Books & Coffee is a worker-owned and self-managed "anti-capitalist business"[1] in Asheville, North Carolina. Named after the firestorm, this infoshop operates with an eye on creating a sustainable, radical community event space.[2][3] Firestorm features regular events, such as film screenings, political and economic teach-ins, local and traveling musicians and community workshops.

Firestorm opened in May 2008, spearheaded by co-creators Libertie Valance and Neala Byrne (aka Kila Donovan),[3][4] and is run by an LGBTQ collective.[5][6]


In May 2010, Firestorm was named the "#2 Best Slow Money Business in America" by the Slow Money Alliance.[7] In December 2011, Firestorm was featured in a list of the "10 Coolest Independent Coffee Shops Across the US" surveyed by Zagat, a U.S. publisher of popular restaurant guides.[8]

In January 2014,[9] the Firestorm Collective announced that they would be closing the downtown space and looking for a new location in West Asheville. Firestorm was closed from March 2014 to July 2015. In July 2015, the collective officially opened the new space on Haywood Road in West Asheville, under the name Firestorm Books & Coffee. The name change reflected the expanded focus on operating as a bookstore.

In August 2018, Firestorm was cited by the City of Asheville for hosting a regular needle exchange event that included the distribution of clean syringes and naloxone. The city alleged that they were operating in violation of zoning code.[10] The violations were later dropped without disruption to the activities originally cited on conditions that the site maintained a medical personnel on site.[10][11]

Firestorm has hosted many notable speakers, including economist Thomas Greco,[12] gay activist Wayne Besen,[13] the Beehive Collective, environmental scholar Kirkpatrick Sale,[14] activist educator Bill Ayers,[15] and feminist organizer Jenny Brown.[16]


Firestorm is owned and operated by the Firestorm Collective, a cooperative body that uses formal consensus decision-making and job complexes to equitably distribute labor and responsibility.[4] In keeping with its identity as an anti-capitalist business, Firestorm is committed to operation without profit, returning 100% of would-be profits to the community.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kate (2008-11-10). "Store Profile: Firestorm Cafe". Retrieved 2010-02-06.
  2. ^ Kate
  3. ^ a b "A Project History".
  4. ^ a b Millard, Hal L (May 21, 2008). "Room with a viewpoint". Mountain Xpress. Retrieved Feb 4, 2010.
  5. ^ Ella Gilbert (2021-06-29). "Practice Pride: Shop at these Queer Owned Bookstores". The Collective Book Studio. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  6. ^ Michelle Hart (2021-06-21). "56 LGBTQ-Owned Bookstores You Can Be Proud to Support". Oprah Daily. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  7. ^ "Our Favorite Slow Money Business". Archived from the original on 2010-05-18. Retrieved 2010-06-03.
  8. ^ Zagat (2011-12-27). "The 10 Coolest Independent Coffee Shops Across The U.S." Retrieved 2011-12-29.
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b Bush, Matt (2018-03-02). "City Drops Violations Against West Asheville Bookstore, Needle Exchange Program". Blueridge Public Radio. Retrieved 2019-10-19.
  11. ^ Castillo, Tessie (2018-04-29). "Harm Reduction vs. Gentrification in Asheville, North Carolina". Retrieved 2019-10-19.
  12. ^ David Forbes (2009-09-23). "Asheville Currency project seeks alternative money". Retrieved 2010-02-06.
  13. ^ "Local gay advocates slam Exodus conference message | | Asheville Citizen-Times". 2008-07-16. Retrieved 2010-02-04.
  14. ^ Maryellen Lo Bosco (2010-04-07). "Kirkpatrick Sale on the secession of "Katuah"". Retrieved 2010-05-23.
  15. ^ Thomas Calder (2017-03-28). "Bill Ayers at Rainbow Community School Wednesday, April 5". Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  16. ^ "Feminist author Jenny Brown speaks at Firestorm Books & Coffee, May 7". 2019-04-30. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  17. ^ Members of Firestorm Cafe & Books (2010-05-12). "Sound-bite vandalism". Retrieved 2010-06-01.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°35′38.95″N 82°33′15.67″W / 35.5941528°N 82.5543528°W / 35.5941528; -82.5543528