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Dillsboro Merchants Association and the West Carolina Internet Café

By Sarah Hardy and Kristin Smith

On the picturesque avenue of historic Dillsboro, North Carolina, the smell of coffee floats on the air, inviting you in to the sweet little café perched on the mountain. Operated in a building which William Dills built for his daughter many years ago, the structure has served many functions over the years, becoming first a home, then a parsonage, then an antique mall before Teresa Dowd turned it into her home and an Internet café.

Teresa Dowd, who operates the café, also designs the web site for the Dillsboro Merchants Association. Its motto is "Yesterdays village....Today!"  According to the Merchant Association's web site, "A visit to Dillsboro is like stepping back in time. Its five square blocks of century-old stores, restaurants, galleries and inns are a nostalgic reminder of small town America, the way our grandparents knew it. Dillsboro has an interesting array of mom-and-pop businesses specializing in delightful merchandise. The way to experience Dillsboro is on foot, strolling from shop to shop. Along the way, you may wander into an artisan’s studio to watch the creation of one-of-a-kind, hand-made works of fibers, clay, glass, metal or precious gems." The Merchant's Association sponsors Saturday Night Live, the June Arts and Music Festival, The Dillsboro Pottery Festival, and many other events.

Coffee and services

Located off Route 441, the West Carolina Internet Café invites everyone, tourists and locals alike, to come in and try their award-winning coffee brew. Technology meets refreshment in this quaint shop where everyone is welcome to sit down for a drink in this chic and inviting environment. There is an impressive selection of drinks (Italian sodas, lattes, fine teas and 100 percent fruit smoothies) served by the barista at the front counter, as well as baked cookies, bagels, scones and many other treats. Dowd, the barista and owner, is friendly and outgoing. Her café duties vary from serving coffees, smoothies and other drinks to baking treats, providing directions, transmitting faxes and helping customers get online.

For volunteers

The West Carolina Internet Café is a full service business center designed to meet the needs of residents, students, tourists and travelers. From surfing the web to troubleshooting mischievous computers, Teresa Dowd and her staff are knowledgeable enough to help with any particular need. Printing, copying, faxing, scanning and newly provided shipping and notary services – the café offers all these services to customers. The West Carolina Internet Café works with other businesses in the area to organize events and even features a special reading room that can be reserved by businesses, clubs, study groups and others for any meetings, trainings and gatherings.

The customers

We had a moment to sit down with Dowd, the owner of the Internet café, and asked what she liked about the area. “The Internet café is open to a lot of people, and we get many different personalities coming in here. The tourists are grand …but it is my regular or local customers that give me the most pleasure. There is something about the mountains that helps you relax.” Families return to the café year after year when they vacation in the area, and it’s no wonder; the café is a great glimpse into high-tech southern hospitality.

For more information, contact www.westcarolinacafe.com or www.visitdillsboro.org.

These profiles were created by the students in Mary Adams's English 303 (spring 2010) class