Friday, November 30, 2012

Men's boutique Silverfly to hold grand opening

A new menswear store in the Metropolitan complex outside of uptown, Silverfly, is having a grand opening celebration Saturday, Dec. 1.

The store opened its doors in early November. "offers a polished, edited and reinterpreted classic look," according to its description of itself. Silverfly carries menswear brands including DL1961, Joe's, Hudson Jeans, Silver Jeans, Chadburry, Alternative Apparel and Ben Sherman.

The company's grand opening celebration will feature food and drinks with a DJ from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., as well as promotional give-aways with purchases throughout the day.

Here's a link to a CLT Buzz story about the opening with a picture of the store's interior.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Chef'Store opening in former Wal-Mart location

Restaurant supply company US Foods is opening its first Chef'Store in east Charlotte, a new supply store concept for restaurant operators and other  food service professionals.

There's a video tour of the new store posted to the right. The store, at 3304 Eastway Drive, is holding a grand opening Thursday morning with a 10 a.m. ribbon cutting.

The store, open to chefs and other professionals, is 30,000 square feet, with 30 employees. The Chef'Store has foods such as seafood and meat, and restaurant supplies such as cookware and knives. Products will generally be available in individual or case sizes.

“There are many busy chefs and restaurant owners in Charlotte looking for an easier, more convenient way to get the products they need at competitive prices,” said Bob Stout, US Foods' southeast region president, in a statement. “Chef’Store is bright and clean with an intuitive layout and wide aisles for fast, easy maneuvering."

The store will be open seven days a week. Building permits filed earlier this year show US Foods spent more than $2.3 million renovating and refitting its space.

Privately-held US Foods has over $20 billion in annual revenue. The company also plans to open Chef'Store locations in Oklahoma City and Columbia, S.C.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gander Mountain to open Gastonia store

Firearms, hunting and outdoor supply store Gander Mountain is opening a new store in Gastonia, its sixth in North Carolina.

The store will be in the Franklin Square Shopping Center, on East Franklin Boulevard near I-85 and Cox Road. Gander Mountain said it's new store will be 43,000 square feet and will open in the late spring.

"Our newest North Carolina neighbors' passion for the outdoors and active performance living will be a perfect match with our ‘We Live Outdoors’ culture," said Gander Mountain CEO David Pratt, in a statement.

The store will carry new and used firearms, along with supplies for hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and archery, Gander Mountain said. It will also sell outdoor apparel from brands such as North Face, Under Armour, and Carhartt.

The St. Paul, Minn.-based company operates 119 stores in 24 states. In the Charlotte area, Gander Mountain has a store in Mooresville. Last year, Gander Mountain also opened new stores in Winston-Salem and Morrisville, N.C.

Note: Several months ago, a reader asked me if I knew what was going into this shopping center. Sorry the reply took so long, but here it is. Thanks, as always, for emailing me.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ilios Noche heading to Quail Corners

Ilios Noche, part of Xenia Hospitality group, is planning to open a second location in the Quail Corners Shopping Center.

According to an email sent to nearby residents, the restaurant will be located "at the pavilion, about where Nationwide and part of Mecklenburg Bridal was formerly located." Quail Corners is undergoing a multi-million redevelopment.

The message to neighbors also said that the shopping center broke ground on a new McDonald's, which should be open in mid to late February.

Xenia Hospitality also operates popular eateries including Nolen Kitchen, Big View Diner, and Maverick Rock Taco.

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Amelie's opens online store

Amelie's, the ever-popular French bakery in NoDa, has started an online store, where people can purchase edible goods, home decor, and gifts.

The Amelie's Emporium offers goods for sale either for delivery on in-person pickup. The edibles section includes a hot cocoa set, do-it-yourself twice-baked croissants, and salted caramel brownie balls. In the trinkets and gifts sections, you'll find things such as t-shirts and a gourmet coffee set, and seasonal section includes a gift card ornament.

The site is still under construction, with some sections, such as "About Us," still rather sparse. According to the site, all confirmed orders will be shipped within seven business days, although orders placed after 5 p.m. on Thursday won't be confirmed until Monday.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Uncle Maddio's Pizza coming to Overstreet Mall

Local website Restaurant Traffic is reporting that Uncle Maddio's Pizza Joint will soon open a location in uptown's Overstreet Mall.

Uncle Maddio's storefront, from Restaurant Traffic
This will be the company's first Charlotte location. Uncle Maddio's, a fast-casual pizza place where most of the pies are under $10, is on somewhat of a growth spurt, with 75 stores currently under development.

Their signature pizzas include offerings such as Cobb Salad, BBQ Chicken, The Greek, Jamaican Jerk and Portobello pesto.

Most of Uncle Maddio's existing locations are in the Atlanta area. The company is also planning to open stores soon in Jacksonville, Savannah and Columbia.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wolf Camera at Birkdale Village reopens

One of the three Wolf Camera stores shut down earlier this year as part of parent company Ritz Camera's liquidation has reopened under new management.

C&A Marketing Inc. bought some of the Ritz brands, including Wolf Camera, during the final phases of Ritz's bankruptcy proceedings. The Birkdale Village store is one of 18 bricks-and-mortar stores that C&A is bringing back.
Ritz's main website image
The company is also operating the RitzPix online imaging service, with prints, photo books, and other services on order. C&A is also continuing existing customer loyalty programs as an added incentive to Ritz and Wolf customers.

"We chose these eighteen stores to re-open because they are in key markets across the country that need a personal, knowledgeable photo speciality shop, which also serve as an integral part of their communities. Even though the photo industry continues to transform, we are dedicated to bringing a new, sustainable business model to the Ritz Camera stores and their customers," said C&A president Harry Klein, in a statement.

"Our strategic investment focuses on integrating our online sites with our retail locations, and to offer a one-stop photography resource where customers can purchase premium products and popular imaging gifts," said Klein.

The revived stores are staffed with their original employees, C&A said. Here's more on their plans for the Ritz, and Wolf, camera store brands: "The stores and websites will have fresh, current, and comprehensive inventory, and will continue to offer the full range of quality imaging products and services that consumers have come to expect of the Ritz Camera brand. In addition to the stores, C&A will grow the online imaging speciality business,, which provides high standard photography offerings including film processing, image restorations, premium gifts including custom book printing, and more at the retail locations and a full-service imaging lab."

C&A has some experience with faded imaging brands. The company is the official licensee for many Polaroid products. As the company notes: "C&A already plays a significant role in the resurgence of one iconic American imaging brand."

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Burger 21 heading to Ballantyne Village

Burger 21, a new fast-casual burger company, will open its first Charlotte store in Ballantyne Village.

The company is owned by Front Burner Brands, the same company that runs the Melting Pot restaurants. In Charlotte, Burger 21 will be developed by Todd Dennis and Brian Neel, who operate two Melting Pot franchises in the area.

Burger 21 interior
"We also know Charlotte inside and out and believe people will be really excited about this unique concept with its incredibly diverse menu of hand-crafted burgers and more," said Neel, in a statement. There's no opening date set yet.

As previously reported, Burger 21 has been looking at Charlotte as one of its expansion markets as the company moves beyond Florida. Burger 21 also signed deals to open four restaurants in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, the company said.

The restaurant features a chef-inspired menu, as the company puts it, with 21 burgers. Half are beef, half are other things, such as tuna and turkey, and one a month rotates to a different special.

The Ballantyne Village shopping center has been doing better since the depths of the recession, with higher occupancy rates. But the property was still turned over to its lender recently, to cancel a $50 million loan the owner couldn't pay off.

Burger 21 said it's still seeking franchisees in North Carolina. If you'd like to learn more, click here.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Designer Andy Stinson showcasing high-end clothes at Taylor Richards & Conger

Andy Stinson has an unconventional view of style, a mix of a throwback to Hollywood's most glamorous days and an ironclad expectation that the U.S. can once again be at the forefront of clothing design and production.

Friday and Saturday, he's showcasing his clothing lines for men and women at Taylor Richards & Conger, the upscale clothing store at Philips Place. He'll be showing off the clothes between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. both days, along with wines from his personal collection.

"I started it about pants," said Stinson, whose bespoke brand is only about 1 1/2 years old. "I have this point of view about pants that I really like. It's this 1940s view." Stinson's pants feature a Hollywood waistband, in which there is no separate piece of material sewn on to create the waistband. Think suits that you saw the

That leads to pants that ride high, with a full cut, that elongate a man's legs. The thin belt and high waist minimizes the man's waist, Stinson said - which is often not a man's most flattering feature.

"The cut of it was designed to make a man look somewhat like a Greek god," said Stinson. His clothes are also firmly in the "dandy" mode, with bright colors and bold designs.

"It's a throwback to those great looking things in the '40s when men almost had these flamboyant fashions," said Stinson. "It had fabulous colors. There was a daring sense of color, the pattern motifs were large."

The look eventually faded after it became exaggerated and turned into a zoot suit, Stinson said.

TRC Style, Taylor Richards & Conger's blog, says Stinson's clothes have a uniquely old-school atmosphere: "A range of unique details such as exterior brace buttons, Hollywood waistbands and D-ring side tabs give his collection a nostalgic feel not to be found elsewhere."

The price tag on his made-in-America pants, Stinson's signature item, ranges from $650 to $2,000. He also has alligator belts handmade by an artisan in Florida, and hand-enameled cuff links made by a mother-daughter team in Atlantic City. The collection also includes shirts, ties, and pocket squares.

Made-in-America products are central to Stinson's vision. "Americans make great things," said Stinson. "Every bit as good as what comes out of Italy and Europe."

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Journeys Kidz opening at Carolina Place mall

Shoe retailer Journeys Kidz is opening a store at Carolina Place mall in Pineville on Saturday, Nov. 17.

The store is an offshoot of the Journeys footwear stores, targeting kids ages 5 to 12 with "trendy and aspirational" shoes. Journeys Kidz carries brands including Toms, UGG, DC, Hello Kitty, Sperry, Converse and Vans.

Journeys Kidz also carries accessories such as socks and backpacks, and plays kid-oriented music and cartoons on the in-store televisions. The new Journeys Kidz is located in Carolina Place's upper level, next to Build-A-Bear and The Limited.

There are some 150 Journeys Kidz locations in the U.S., including a new store at Concord Mills that opened in August.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Food Lion freshening up its produce offerings

Looking for crunchier lettuce or fewer brown bananas? Tired of cutting into avocados and finding them brown? Salisbury-based Food Lion is undertaking a major effort to ensure its produce is fresh, as well as expanding its selection, the company said Tuesday.

"We have made a new commitment to fresh produce," said Cathy Green Burns, Food Lion's president, in a statement. "We heard from our customers that they wanted fresher produce for their families. Today, we are taking additional steps to continually improve the quality and freshness of produce, and offer a wider selection."

The initiative is starting at 581 of Food Lion's stores, including those in and around Charlotte. The company expects to expand it next year.

Food Lion said the new program is a complete overhaul of its produce practices. The company is purchasing better produce, changing temperatures produce is stored at, and reducing the amount of time produce spends in distribution centers. Warehouse, transportation and in-store produce associates have had new training in better handling practices to improve produce freshness, the company said.

Food Lion is also adding more produce items, the company said, and starting a customer education program with tip cards on storing fresh produce. In-store signage in what the company calls its new "market" produce section includes tips such as storing potatoes in a perforated plastic bag in a cool, dark place to maintain freshness.

The grocer is also offering a double-money back guarantee on any produce customers are dissatisfied with.

Food Lion is owned by the Belgian supermarket conglomerate Delhaize, and the company operates 1,100 locations.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Carolina Beer Temple opening in Matthews

You might not have seen it at the end of my colleague Helen Schwab's excellent article about Charlotte's thriving craft beer scene, so I thought I'd highlight some of the news: A new craft beer store, the Carolina Beer Temple, is opening soon in Matthews.

The store is planned to open early next year. There will be 8 to 16 taps, the owners say, and half of those will be N.C. craft beers. Owners Rob and Megan Jacik don't know exactly how many different bottles they'll carry, but say they plan to focus on local beers, especially those that are hard to find in Charlotte.

Carolina Beer Temple will be in downtown Matthews, in the shopping center on Matthews Station Street.

Here's what the owners told Charlotte Beer: “With 70 breweries currently in operation in North Carolina we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fantastic if North Carolina embraced its beer industry in much the same way as Belgium?’” Rob said. “In an attempt to elevate the beer scene in North Carolina to a similar level as Belgium we felt our store should resonate with a similar reverence for the beers made here.”

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

What does Obama's reelection mean for retailers?

What will a second term for President Barack Obama mean for retailers in the US? The National Retail Federation's take on things is a little glum, foreseeing likely higher costs from health care reform and a greater emphasis on labor issues that could make it easier for workers to unionize.

"The top issue facing our nation the day after the election is the same as it was the day before the election – the economy," NRF chief executive Matthew Shay said Tuesday morning, in a statement. "The U.S. needs public policy that encourages economic growth and removes barriers to job creation."

 In the NRF's view, Obama's reelection is likely to lead to faster implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and eliminate the possibility of its repeal. That could raise the cost of doing business for retailers who employ lots of part-time workers.

On labor relations, the Obama administration is seen as more sympathetic to employees: "Reelection will likely mean a more active labor agenda ahead...Some of the more controversial approaches taken by the National Labor Relations Board on ambush elections, micro-unions and union access to the workplace are already under legal challenge."

One area many bricks-and-mortar retailers are concerned with is making online companies pay state sales tax. The retailers badly want to see online businesses charge the same taxes, which they think will help level the playing field. That legislation could move forward, the NRF said: "A new bipartisan sales tax fairness bill, granting states’ authority to require online sellers to collect sales tax on all sales if certain simplifications are adopted, is expected to be released by cosponsors reconciling differences between the current House and Senate versions. As lead cosponsor of the Senate bill, Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., will continue his push to pass the legislation while fiscal cliff negotiations continue." 

An Obama administration could mean higher taxes on small businesses and high earners, the NRF says, although those are not completely certain as fiscal cliff negotiations begin. "Most of the $500 billion in tax increases are as a result of the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for individuals, and could have a substantial impact on consumer spending," the NRF warns.

Two other issues might not be as prominent in consumers' minds, but could still have a big impact on retailers. Cyber-security and  consumer privacy are both likely to be areas the administration focuses on, the NRF says: "This includes the administration’s efforts on the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, examination of mobile app privacy policies by the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace. Privacy and data breach notification legislation will likely be reintroduced without many changes in both the House and Senate."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Family Dollar turns to 'sin items' for growth

There was an interesting story in Forbes on Tuesday about Matthews-based Family Dollar's increasing reliance on so-called "sin items," such as cigarettes, to sustain growth in the face of fiercer competition.

Family Dollar cigarette display
Since the recession, Family Dollar and its competitors, such as Dollar General and Dollar Tree, have enjoyed a major period of growth. Their sales have soared to record levels, they've added thousands of stores, and they're preparing to open thousands more over the coming years.

The reasons behind the dollar store boom are myriad. There are more people in poverty or struggling, and there are more people willing to "trade down" the stores they shop at to save money. The dollar stores have added better-quality items, and thousands of different items such as food, to drive repeat trips. Larger discount competitors, such as Wal-Mart, stumbled, and with more locations, dollar stores benefited from being closer to home in an era of rising gas prices.

But now, competition is heating up, especially from Wal-Mart. The world's largest retailer is opening more small-format stores, and that means dollar stores have to come up with more ways to lure customers. Enter alcohol and tobacco. As an analyst is quoted saying in the Forbes piece: “Any time you’re selling liquor or tobacco, it’s another reason to go into the store, (they're)...addictive repeat purchases.”

Monday, November 5, 2012

Steve Smith's sandwich debuts at Harris Teeter

Smith catching a delicious sub
"The Smitty" is coming to Charlotte-area Harris Teeter stores, and it's being billed as Steve Smith's "personally designed Signature Sub Sandwich which is guaranteed to fill even the largest appetite."

Designed in conjunction with Harris Teeter, the sub will cost $3.99, Harris Teeter said. It will include: "Pastrami and Genoa Salami with cheddar cheese, mayonnaise and a light brushing of mustard on toasted sourdough bread."

On Election Day (Tuesday Nov. 6), Smith will be at the Morrocroft Harris Teeter promoting his new sub. He'll be there during the lunch hour, from noon to 1 p.m. He'll be signing autographs, although presumably not on the subs themselves. Harris Teeter is likely glad Smith didn't get traded this year.

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Survey's in: Men plan to spend more on holiday shopping

A new survey from shows some interesting trends in holiday shopping: Men plan to spend more, on average, but women plan to start earlier.

Men surveyed plan to spend &775.78, while women in the survey plan to spend $724.23 on gifts. Out of that total spending, men said they plan to spend slightly less on gifts for family members ($416) than women do ($427), but more on gifts for friends ($89 v. $62) and co-workers ($30 v. $17).

Part of the reason for the discrepancy could be that women are simply thriftier. Of those surveyed, 60.7 percent of men said they planned to shop in discount stores, compared with 69.7 percent of women. Men are also more likely to shop at electronics stores (38.7 percent v. 25.4 percent), which could lead to more big ticket purchases by men.

Another could be that women start their shopping earlier, on average, than men. By November, 46.4 percent of women have already started their shopping, compared with 35.9 percent of men. And almost twice as many men, 4.6 percent, plan to wait until the last two weeks of December. Just 2.5 percent of women say they're going to wait that long.

How about you? Have you started shopping yet? If you're a guy, do you think you'll spend more than the women in your life on the holidays (or vice versa)?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tax holiday for Energy Star this weekend

Energy-efficient appliances will be sales-tax free this weekend, from Friday, Nov. 2 through Sunday, Nov. 4.

In Mecklenburg County, that means saving 7.25 percent in taxes on Energy Star-rated appliances. That equates to $72.5 on a $1,000 purchase, which isn't too shabby. The sales tax holiday covers washing machines, freezers, refrigerators, central air conditioners, room air conditioners, air-source heat pumps, ceiling fans, dehumidifiers and programmable thermostats

A few conditions to note:
  •  There is no price floor or ceiling for qualifying purchases. 
  • Appliance rentals are not covered.
  • Appliance deliveries that are delayed due to stocking issues are still covered, but not if the customer requests delayed delivery. From the Department of revenue: "An item is eligible for the exemption if the customer pays for it during the holiday period and the retailer accepts the order and takes an action to fill the order for immediate delivery."
  • Purchases by businesses aren't exempt. The sales tax holiday covers only individuals.