Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jet's Pizza to expand in Charlotte

Charlotte is getting two new pizza stores, as Michigan-based Jet's Pizza plans to increase its presence in the region.

Jet's has two locations in the area now, one on Montford Drive and one in Huntersville. Both of them opened in 2010.

The chain's new locations are at 2712 West Mallard Creek Church Road in Charlotte and 920 Park Center Drive, in Matthews. Both new stores will open in December.

“North Carolina has been an excellent market for us,” said John Jetts, the chain's vice president of marketing, in a statement. “We’ve had an incredible response and we’re looking forward to further expansion in the state.”

Jet's signature dish is a deep-dish, square pizza. There are some 200 Jet's locations nationally, with sales of $163 million last year. The chain is also expanding in Raleigh and Cary.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Retailers hoping you log on for Cyber Monday

Had enough of named shopping days? Too bad. Following on the heels of Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, today is Cyber Monday, when stores are trying to lure shoppers online with perks such as web discounts and free shipping.

And like Black Friday, some retailers are turning what used to be a one-day event into a multi-day extravaganza. Wal-Mart, for example, is offering an entire "Cyber Week" of deals, with online-only deals such as a Fuji FinePix 14 megapixel camera with a 4 GB memory card for $59, and free home shipping on all orders over $45.

With record sales the day after Thanksgiving ($11.4 billion, up 6.6 percent), retailers are hoping to keep the positive momentum rolling. Last year's online sales rose about 16 percent the Monday after Thanksgiving, compared with 2009.

"I think you're going to see an even stronger number this year," said Beth Robertson, director of payments research at Javelin Strategy and Research. In a sign that consumers might be feeling more optimistic about the economic future, Robertson also said a greater share of online payments are expected to be made with credit rather than debit cards.

Online retail currently makes up about 7.2 percent of total retail sales, with $309 billion in sales expected for 2011. That share of sales is forecast to grow to 10.1 percent by 2016, according to Javelin Research, or $444 billion.

Originally a marketing strategy by the National Retail Federation-affiliated Shop.org, Cyber Monday was started in 2005 (read a New York Times story here for more details). Now, Shop.org is predicting 122 million Americans will shop on Monday (more than 1 in 3 people in this country), and 78 percent of retailers are offering special promotions for the day.

Local retailers are getting in on the action. Belk.com lists special deals such as 50 percent off men's topcoats and 50 percent off Rampage brand women's boots. Lowes.com is offering 42 percent off a Skil miter saw and 47 percent off a DeWalt cordless drill kit, for example.

And if you were really hoping we were done with named shopping days for the season, no such luck. Tomorrow is supposed to be "Green Tuesday," a day to promote eco-friendly purchases.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Black Friday sales jump 6.6 percent, set new record

Retailers' strategy of opening earlier than ever paid off big, with a record $11.4 billion in sales on the year's biggest shopping day, according to the firm ShopperTrak.

The firm, which tracks both sales and foot traffic, said the number of shoppers on Friday also increased 5.1 percent. Sales were up 6.6 percent from last year's $10.7 billion.

"Despite our sluggish economy, shoppers proved they are looking for value and ready to buy," said ShopperTrak's founder Bill Martin, in a statement. "Still, it's just one day. It remains to be seen whether consumers will sustain this behavior through the holiday season."

This year's increase in Black Friday sales was the largest since that between 2006 and 2007, before the recession began. Sales jumped more than 8 percent that year.

This year, with retailers offering more and more pre-Black Friday promotions, sales were also up 3.8 percent the week before Thanksgiving.

Customers turned out in droves this year, as Target, Macy's, Kohl's, Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Toys 'R' Us all announced their earliest openings ever, hoping to gain an edge on each other.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Black Friday: What's open when?

Black Friday is almost upon us, which means it's time for a big roundup of which stores are trying to part you with your money, and when they're opening.

Below is a list of when local chain stores and malls are opening their doors to shoppers, as well as some shopping tips. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it does cover pretty much everything I've accumulated from malls and stores over the past couple weeks.

Thursday and Friday, email any questions/observations/anecdotes/near-trampling incidents you feel like sharing with me at elyportillo@charlotteobserver.com, or call me at 704-358-5041. I get your emails on my cell phone, and I'd appreciate any feedback.

Local malls:

  • SouthPark will open at 7 a.m. Friday. The following individual stores at the mall will open at midnight: Macy's, Aeropostale, American Eagle, Teavana, Lids, Express, Guess, Urban Outfitters, Abercrombie & Fitch, Abercrombie and Hollister. Victoria's Secret and Belk will open at 3 a.m.
  • Northlake will open at 6 a.m. Abercrombie, Abercrombie & Fitch, Aerie, Aeropostale, American Eagle, Express, Finish Line, Footlocker, Forever 21, Guess, Hollister, Lids and Perfumania will open at midnight. Bakers Shoes and Starbucks will open at 4 a.m.
  • Carolina Place will open at 6 a.m. Abercrombie & Fitch, Aerie, AĆ©ropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Bath & Body Works, Bella Scarpa, Body Central, Bourbon Street Grill, Carolina Jewelry, Cellairis, Chick-fil-A, Children's Place, Claire's, Express, Hat Shack, Hershey's Ice Cream, Hickory Farms, Hollister Co., Hot Topic, Icing by Claire's, Express Men, Finish Line, Gamestop, Gap, The Limited, Macy's, McDonald's, Lane Bryant, New York & Company, P.S. from AĆ©ropostale, PacSun, Perfumania, Pro Image, Sbarro, Spencer's, Sports Fan Attic, Victoria's Secret, Wet Seal and XXI Forever will open at midnight. Authentik's and Belk will open at 3 a.m., Crazy 8, Gymboree, JCPenney, Rack Room Shoes and Sears will open at 4 a.m. and Dillard's will open at 8 a.m.
  • Concord Mills will open at midnight.
Other malls:
Monroe Mall will open at 3 a.m. Friday
Gaffney Outlets will open at midnight, with select stores open at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving

Individual stores:
Open on Thanksgiving: Old Navy, select Banana Republic and Gap stores, K-Mart, Wal-Mart supercenters
Open at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving: Toys 'R' Us
Black Friday sales starting at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving: Wal-Mart
Opening at midnight: Target, Macy's, Kohl's and Best Buy

Useful sites to look up Black Friday ads in one place:
http://www.2011blackfridayads.com and http://bfads.net/ 

Random tips and such:
So, have fun  whether you decide to shop till you drop or spend Friday morning sleeping off your turkey hangover. Follow us on Twitter @theobserver for shopping-related updates Thursday and Friday, and check out the main Charlotte Observer website too.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Group promoting 'Buy American Month' this holiday season

The next six weeks will see consumers pouring into malls, outlet stores and big-box retailers in search of bargains and gifts, and much of what they buy will be imported.

But a Seattle-based non-profit is hoping to bring more attention to American products and businesses this holiday season. TAP America is promoting "Buy American Month," a campaign to boycott products made overseas (and specifically those made in China), which the group says is the only way to revive our sickly economy.

Though it may be a worthy goal, buying American can be more expensive - and, as this LA Times story points out, practically impossible for some items. Some of the hottest gift items this holiday season, like Apple's products, are designed in America but assembled by workers in low-cost Asian countries.

TAP America acknowledges the difficulty of buying American-made products.

"Asking Americans to buy American is not an easy task,” said Richard Tso, the group's executive director, in a statement. “Today most all electronic, clothing and textile goods are manufactured in China and popular American companies like Apple, REI, Walmart, and GAP are sending manufacturing jobs overseas."

To get around that, the group suggests people buy experience-oriented gifts, such as massages and restaurant gift cards. Such services are impossible to offshore, and more likely to pump money into the local economy, TAP America says.

What do you think? Are you willing to spend more money on American-made goods, and is that something you're considering during your holiday gift shopping?

Also noted: A new Dell retail store is now open in Northlake Mall. Dell@Northlake is on the mall's first floor, near the children's play area. The store beefs up Northlake's options for computers and electronics, adding to the recently opened Apple store.

Monday, November 21, 2011

OSHA warns retailers to get ready for Black Friday

With retailers days away from the biggest shopping day of the year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is reminding stores to take steps to ensure no one gets hurt in the rush for bargains.

The stakes for retail workers are high. In 2008, a Wal-Mart employee was killed after being trampled, when a surging crowd broke through the door and stormed the store in search of bargains.

The latest OSHA guidelines, released late last week, include a lot of common-sense steps, such as "Set up barricades or rope lines for crowd management well in advance of customers arriving at the store" and "Make sure that all employees and crowd control personnel are aware that the doors are about to open."

But other bullet points make the danger clear. Stores are advised to "Position security or crowd managers to the sides of entering (or exiting) public, not in the center of their path" - a way to avoid potential trampling incidents. Retailers should also "Keep first-aid kits and Automated External Defibrillators" on-hand, to treat any injuries or cardiac incidents that occur. 

"Locate shopping carts and other potential obstacles or projectiles inside the store and away from the entrance, not in the parking lot," OSHA advises. And "Ensure that barricade lines have an adequate number of breaks and turns at regular intervals to reduce the risk of customers pushing from the rear and possibly crushing others, including workers."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Blakeney, Sharon Corners shopping centers add stores

Blakeney shopping center in south Charlotte has two new tenants, broker CNL Crosland Commercial Real Estate said.

Indoor cycling studio Flywheel Sports is headed to the center's second level, near the Banana Republic store. The 4,600-square-foot studio will open in January, CNL Crosland said.

Accessory store Bijuju opened in early November, Crosland said, next to the Talbots store. The store is about 1,400 square feet, and carries items such as handbags, cocktail rings, sunglasses, hats and scarves.

Bijuju moves into what was formerly the Creative by Nature HOME store. Creative by Nature relocated to a larger, nearly 2,700-square-foot space near Coldwater Creek. The home accessory and furniture retailer now has a larger showroom, CNL Crosland said.

The 270-acre Blakeney development is south of I-485, at Rea and Ardrey Kell Roads.

Over at Sharon Corners, near SouthPark at Fairview and Sharon Roads, Gigi's Cupcakes has signed for 1,200 square feet formerly occupied by shoe store Mephisto.

Mephisto is expanding and moving to the 2,500-square-foot store next to the Original Pancake House. The retailer is adding 10 new brands to its lineup with the added space, the store's owner said.

And Fibre Studio, a yarn store, is relocating to Sharon Corners from the Cotswold area. CNL Crosland said Fibre Studio's new location is about 1,800 square feet.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Whole Foods to give away 100 turkeys in Charlotte on Monday

High-end organic grocer Whole Foods is giving away 100 free turkeys on Monday, as the company seeks to generate buzz ahead of its Charlotte opening next year.

The contest is a sort of guerilla-marketing strategy. Interested shoppers will have to follow the Facebook page for Whole Foods Charlotte location for instructions. They'll have to find a turkey mascot and tell him the answer to a question ("What makes a Whole Foods turkey different?") to get the bird.

The turkeys will come in insulated cooler bags, spokeswoman Darrah Horgan said, along with tips for how to cook them.

Whole Foods has long been one of the most anticipated additions to the Charlotte retail scene, especially after scrapping earlier plans to build a store in the Elizabeth area years ago. (Here's an earlier story, for those hungry for more details).

The grocer broke ground on the 42,000-square-foot store at Fairview and Sharon roads in April, and the store is expected to be open in the spring. The location is diagonally across from SouthPark mall, and in a location already offering high-end grocery options, including EarthFare and Harris Teeter's Morrocroft location.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Concord Mills to open at midnight on Black Friday

Concord Mills, the mega-mall on I-85, will open at midnight on the Friday immediately after Thanksgiving, the mall said this week.

Many of the stores will be offering steep discounts, such as 50 percent off everything at the Banana Republic Factory Store, 20 percent of at the Nike Factory Store, and up to 70 percent off select items at the Gap.

Though there's been some anecdotal backlash among consumers and workers (such as this petition by a worker asking Target not to open at midnight), it hasn't deterred retailers from pushing hours earlier than ever this Black Friday.

Major retailers, including Target, Kohl's, Macy's and Best Buy are opening at midnight on Black Friday, Wal-Mart is starting deals at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving and Toys 'R' Us is opening at 9 p.m.

 "We are very focused on giving shoppers exactly what they want, which we see as the ‘more factor’ approach to shopping," said Holly Roberson, Concord Mills' director of marketing. And that includes more time to shop on Black Friday.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Toys 'R' Us to open at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving

Retailers seem bent on falling over each other to see who can have the earliest ever "Black Friday" opening this year, and now there's a new leader: Toys "R" Us will open its doors at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

Black Friday, traditionally the blockbuster shopping day after Thanksgiving, has been pushed earlier and earlier this year, finally biting firmly into Thanksgiving day. Best Buy, Macy's, Target and Kohl's all abandoned traditional 4 a.m. Friday openings earlier this month, and announced they'll open their doors right at midnight on Nov. 25.

Wal-Mart, the country's largest retailer, announced it would start offering doorbuster deals at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving, even earlier than the other stores. Gap, Inc. said about 1,000 of their Banana Republic, Old Navy, Gap and outlet stores would simply stay open on Thanksgiving, as they did last year.

Toys "R" Us had opened at 10 p.m. last year. Company officials said the decision was made with customers in mind.

Black Friday is truly the kickoff to the holiday shopping season, and we’re excited to welcome customers at Toys“R”Us stores across the country for what has become an annual tradition for many families after Thanksgiving dinner is finished," said chief marketing officer Greg Ahearn, in a statement.

Retailers are competing for every dollar this holiday season, at a time when the economy is shaky and holiday spending is forecast to rise somewhere around 2 to 3 percent, about half of last year's increase.

There may be backlash building, however. Despite the stores' insistence that customers like the earlier hours, emails and phone calls I've gotten certainly indicate a lot of consumers are fed up with Black Friday creep. And some retail employees, like this gentleman who's starting a petition against Target, are also saying enough is enough.

What do you think?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Family Dollar goes coast-to-coast, opens first CA stores

Matthews-based Family Dollar is set to open its first stores in California this week, completing the discount retailer's march west.

The chain was founded in Charlotte more than 50 years ago by entrepreneur Leon Levine. There are now more than 7,000 Family Dollar stores, as the company has ramped up expansion plans and taken advantage of an economy that's left more consumers looking for bargains.

I've written about Family Dollar's move into California before, but here's a story on the LA Times' website with a bit more detail. There's also a press release from Family Dollar today about the store's plans.

The company's first four stores in California will open this week, on Thursday, and plans to have 50 more open in the state by next fall. Family Dollar will target southern California first.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Retail events for Veterans Day

In addition to parades and other events, retailers are offering discounts and some services to military personnel to mark Veterans Day.

Here is a very limited, extremely far from comprehensive list of some of what's on tap:

Harris Teeter is offering an 11 percent discount (after coupons and other discounts have been applied) on groceries to service members on Friday, Nov. 11. A valid military ID card is required.

Also on Friday, Nov. 11, Food Lion is offering a 10 percent discount to service members. The company will also donate $134,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit that helps wounded veterans.

JCPenney is giving 6,000 veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan gift certificates for $200 worth of clothing. The winners will be randomly selected from veterans who sign up for a shot at the prize by Nov. 20. For more information, click here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wal-Mart to start Black Friday on Thanksgiving

If you thought Black Friday creep (the trend driving stores to open earlier and earlier the day after Thanksgiving) might be a passing fad, abandon hope: Wal-Mart is jumping into the ring.

Wal-Mart said Thursday that it will kick off its Black Friday sales at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving day, joining a host of other national retailers who are pushing shopping right up to - and even into - turkey day.

“Our customers told us they would rather stay up late to shop than get up early, so we’re going to hold special events on Thanksgiving and Black Friday,” said Duncan MacNaughton, Wal-Mart's chief merchandising officer, in a statement about the retailers earliest Black Friday ever.

The retail giant's sale will run in two waves. First, at 10 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 24, home goods, toys and apparel will be steeply discounted, followed by a midnight sale on electronics. Wal-Mart will also have online-only sales with free shipping on Thanksgiving, and continuing discounts through the holiday weekend.

Last year, Wal-Mart followed the early bird schedule of most retailers, starting its sale in the pre-dawn hours after Thanksgiving. But this year, Black Friday has been shifting relentlessly earlier: Kohl's, Target, Macy's and Best Buy have all announced their first ever midnight openings. Charlotte-based Belk has given an hour, announcing it will open at 3 a.m. instead of 4 a.m. this year.

Gap plans to have about 1,000 of its Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and outlet stores open on Thanksgiving day.

The race to open earlier comes as retail trade groups and analysts are mostly predicting lackluster gains in holiday spending, as the economy remains on rocky ground and it's not clear when steady improvement will begin. Black Friday is usually the biggest single shopping day of the year.

Wal-Mart has been turning the clock forward on the holiday season this year. The retailer rolled out some holiday merchandise in mid-September, its earliest yet, and held an extensive sale last weekend with discounts it said were close to Black Friday levels.

So, readers out there, what do you think? Do you buy MacNaughton's argument? Might it actually be saner to do your shopping right after Thanksgiving dinner and then fall into bed, exhausted but satisfied, at 3 a.m. or so? Or is this just one more example of creeping commercialism marching ever-deeper into once-sacred territory?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Feeling sick - go see Dr. ...Wal-Mart?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, wants to become the nation's largest primary health care provider.

The article, which actually originated with KaiserHealthNews.org, says that Wal-Mart is soliciting partner companies to help it provide low-cost primary health care.

According to the Journal's story: "Wal-Mart said in its proposal document that it is interested in offering services including clinical care such as monitoring for asthma, sleep apnea and osteoporosis; diagnostic services such as allergy and blood testing; and preventative services such as vaccinations and physical exams, as well as health and wellness products."

The retail giant has struggled domestically with declining sales and sluggish growth at it's 3,800 U.S. stores, even as it keeps growing overseas. Wal-Mart has shifted its merchandise mix to add back thousands of items taken out of stores in a de-cluttering effort a few years ago, in a bid to lure shoppers back.

Wal-Mart also has a successful line of financial services at its Money Centers, which offer low-cost check cashing and pre-paid debit cards to shoppers, many of whom lack bank accounts. Efforts such as that - and its potential medical services - lure more potential shoppers into the store, boosting traffic and sales.

So will you go to Dr. Wal-Mart? Or is the retail giant already big enough, in your opinion?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gap Inc. stores to open Thanksgiving day

Gap Inc., owner of the Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy brands, said Tuesday that some 1,000 of its stores will be open on Thanksgiving day this year.

This isn't a first for Gap, which has previously had stores open on Thanksgiving. The retailer has struggled with anemic sales and a flagging brand identity, and recently announced it will close about a fifth of Gap brand stores in the U.S.

But this Thanksgiving will be all about generating sales on a day when most Americans will be home gorging on football and turkey.

Gap said Tuesday that about 80 percent of its Old Navy stores will be open on Thanksgiving, with the rest opening at midnight on Black Friday. For Gap stores, 116 of them will be open during the day and about 200 will open at midnight Friday. Some 30 Gap Outlet and Banana Republic Factory stores will be open on Thanksgiving, and 250 will open at midnight Friday.

Company officials said their customers want the early openings - and want a place to go on Thanksgiving to get away from celebrations.

“Our customers have given us terrific feedback about the option of getting a head start on their shopping on Thanksgiving Day,” said Tom Wyatt, Old Navy's president, in a statement.  “It’s a fun environment for the whole family, and a welcome excursion for those looking to get ahead or take a break from the holiday festivities. This is a win-win for our brand and our shoppers alike.”

Black Friday ads being posted online

Retailers are starting to unveil specific ads for Black Friday, many of them on websites advertising so-called "leaked deals."

As in years past, the ads are popping up on sites like BlackFriday.info, GottaDeal and BFads.net. One of the most recently posted ones is a 72-page doozy from JCPenney, detailing discounts on everything from apparel to bedding, and the retailer's traditional snow globe giveaway.

Although some of these ads may in years past have actually been leaked prematurely, now it seems increasingly unlikely. As Consumerist puts it, "I'm not calling this ad a "leak" because I think by this point we all realize that pre-feeding the ads to online sources has now got to be part of retailers' marketing strategy."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Best Buy also to open at midnight on Black Friday

Add a fourth retail to the list of those falling before Black Friday Creep: Best Buy will join Target, Macy's and Kohl's in opening to shoppers the minute Thanksgiving ends, at midnight on Friday.

This year will be the first time any of these stores open that early. Last year, they mostly opened at around 4 a.m. - still very early, with thousands of shoppers lining up in the pre-dawn hours, but not midnight.

"Must-have holiday gifts will be available even earlier when Best Buy opens its doors at 12 midnight," the electronics retailer said in a press release Friday.

"At Best Buy, we're focused on creating an unparalleled shopping experience for our customers," said Barry Judge, Best Buy's chief marketing officer, in the same statement. "This commitment will come to life throughout the holiday season in a variety of offers and initiatives that give customers great values and the most convenient ways to shop for everyone on their list."

Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn sounded somewhat less enthusiastic about the earlier hours, according to this story in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. He said Best Buy was pushed into opening early by rival retailers who had already announced plans to do so.

"I feel terrible because it impacts, it'll change some Thanksgiving plans for some of our employees," Dunn said. "I know that the decision has been a bit controversial with some of our folks, but the truth of the matter is, the customers will be out there, lined up, for that midnight opening."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Carmel Commons getting $3.5 million facelift

My colleague Caroline McMillan has a good story about Carmel Commons shopping center posted online today. Since I've gotten reader inquiries about what's going on at the site, I thought I'd post a link to the story (click here).

Basically, owner Regency Centers is putting in a new roof, new sconces, fresh paint, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, new lighting and updated landscaping, among other changes.

Caroline's story also includes the owner's renderings of what the project, targeted for a March 2012 completion, will look like once the updates are complete. So check it out, and bon shop-etetit (Boy, that was corny).

New chain, Burgerfi, headed to town

Charlotte is in line to get another "better burger" chain, as a pair of local restaurant professionals have signed an agreement to open 20 Burgerfi locations in the Carolinas.

"We'll eventually have four to six in the Charlotte area," said Burley Moss, who has previously developed franchise locations for Outback Steakhouse and Bonefish Grill. "It takes you a while to get that first, one and they seem to roll pretty quickly after that."

Along with business partner Henry Harris, Moss said he's searching for sites in Charlotte and hopes to open the city's first Burgerfi in the second quarter next year.

North Palm Beach, Fla.-based Burgerfi currently has five locations. The chain focuses on humanely-raised, naturally-grown beef burgers, and features green touches such as chairs made from recycled materials.

Charlotte has seen fast-casual burger concept restaurants grow recently, with new market entrants such as Smashburger and American Roadside Burgers, and the expansion of Bad Daddy's Burger Bar and Five Guys. But Moss said he doesn't think the city's burgerscape is too crowded.

"I don't think so," Moss said. "It's definitely a growing segment."

Part of the reason he thinks the chains will have enough room to grow together is appeal that crosses income lines: Prices low enough to lure everyone, and menu offerings attractive enough to lure upper-income customers.

Said Moss: "The people who live in... $4 million houses will eat at our burger restaurant, and the people who cut their grass will too."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Blue Chameleon consignment opens in Matthews

Downtown Matthews has a new consignment store, as Karen Geisler and her husband Tom have opened The Blue Chameleon at John and Trade streets.

Geisler, a former textile design graphic artist, named the store for the exotic lizards she used to keep and breed. "They're very fragile creatures," she said. "I thought, I have to name a store after them. They're so beautiful."

And, like a chameleon's skin, Geisler said her merchandise is constantly shifting. The store, which opened four weeks ago, carries a mix of furniture, Victorian antiques, handmade and vintage jewelry, dishware, rugs, chandeliers and other goods. Three local artists have also consigned works to the store to sell, Geisler said.

Blue Chameleon is currently being run by Geisler, who lives in Wesley Chapel, and one of her friends. The store was years in the making, Geisler said.

"I've been wanting to do this for years. I just haven't been brave enough," she said. "I thought with the economy how it was, and people not buying new furnishings, we might get a pretty good start."

Geisler spent about five years planning for the store. Finding the 6,000-square-foot former rug shop in Matthews that would become her shop took about a year, Geisler said, and spent weeks painting and preparing the store after that.

"I had never started a business before, and didn't realize how much there is to do," Geisler said. "We spent many a night painting."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Four new stores, plastic surgery office to open soon at SouthPark

SouthPark mall announced on Tuesday evening a slew of new outlets set to open over the coming months, including House of Hoops by Foot Locker, Lily Pulitzer, Criswell & Criswell, Eye Candy, and Paul Simon for Women.

Here's a quick rundown of the new stores:

  • House of Hoops, 6,100 square feet. Set to open mid-November, this boutique-style store will sell player footwear, basketball shoes by Nike, Converse and Jordan Brand, customizable t-shirts and more. There will also be a "VIP area" to read magazines and watch player interviews.
  • Lily Pulitzer, 2,490 square feet. This store will open in February 2012, with its line of handbags, accessories, clothing and more featuring the brand's signature print designs.
  • Eye Candy, 1,500 square feet. The shop opening in the Village at SouthPark in March 2012 will be the Gastonia-based company's second boutique, selling labels such as Shaye Blue, Judith March and Savannah Rae.
  • Paul Simon for Women, 3,000 square feet. Set to open in summer 2012 in the Village at SouthPark, the store will sell "classic clothing with a twist."
  • Criswell & Criswell, 3,000 square feet. This plastic surgery office, also opening in the Village at SouthPark, will be the Charlotte practice's second location. The office will provide a "friendly and discreet environment," a SouthPark spokeswoman said in a press release.
So, there you have it. Shop till you drop, then settle in for a consultation for what to do about those pesky crow's feet.