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    North Carolina C-Store's Beer Cave Designed by Students

    Art majors get hands-on experience with beer cave fix-up.

    ASHVILLE, N.C. -- Citi Stop, a convenience store located here, has gotten a facelift for its beer cave by two senior art students at the University of North Carolina at Ashville. Jason Emory and Hayden Wilson were hired to design, fabricate and install a sculptural entrance for the store's walk-in cooler, the Citizen-Times reported.

    The beer cave wasn't seeing much traffic, the newspaper reported. Customer's thought it was for storage, not purchases. "I live around the corner, and I knew the space was there. But I wasn’t aware it was for the consumer. I thought it was for storage," Emory told the Citizen-Times.

    Station owner and Citizens Fuel Co.'s vice president, Scott Shealy, had gotten the idea to give the beer cave a new look after taking management classes at the university and seeing the student's work on display in Owen Hall. It first gave him the idea to landscape the area in front of the company's car wash with metal botanical sculptures in place of the live plants that were not thriving in the hot, soapy environment.

    Last spring, Shealy went to professor Dan Millspaugh to ask students to solve the beer cave problem. When the students were selected, he told them he wanted an attention-grabbing design that represented 'cold,' beyond that, the students were given artistic freedom. "They were the artists," Shealy told the newspaper. "I didn't want to try to affect their creative process."

    "Our first idea was to do concrete over wire mesh to make the whole cooler look like a cave," Wilson told the paper. "Our brains were taking off." But budgets and functionality intervened, and a free-form metal shape around the cave's entrance was finally decided upon.

    Emory likens the cave to a "giant steel arbor with aluminum stalactites hanging down," the newspaper reported. The aluminum, being silver-colored and shiny, gives the stalactites an icy effect, Wilson told the paper.

    The project took more than 400 hours of labor and was assembled and disassembled three times before the final installation in July.

    "We've gotten a lot of very favorable reaction," Shealy told the Citizen-Times. "A lot of the UNCA community became aware of what Hayden and Jason were doing, and they've all given it a big thumbs up. I think most people are a little surprised to find that in a convenience store. That's part of what's fun about it."

    Shealy has begun discussions with the artists for an additional cave entrance in his Biltmore store.

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