Friday, May 30, 2014

Walmart Neighborhood Market stokes Rock Hill opposition

Walmart is opening mores Neighborhood Market grocery stores in the Charlotte area, but the Rock Hill Herald reports that one of the planned new stores is drawing concerted opposition from nearby residents.

The store, at Celanese and Ebinport roads in Rock Hill, would be 42,000 square feet, the size of a standard grocery store and about one quarter the size of a Walmart Supercenter. Nationwide, Walmart is expanding the concept to put more pressure on traditional supermarkets.

From the Herald: Some residents who live near the development site at the corner of Celanese and Ebinport roads have voiced concerns for several months about the potential impact the shopping center would have on property values and quality of life.
Many residents still want to fight the development but their chances are slim, said Kristen Kull, a resident of Swan Meadows – the closest neighborhood to the shopping center site.
Their last option, she said, is to convince the S.C. Department of Transportation to reject the developer’s request for some road projects to accommodate the development.

Read more here:

 In Charlotte, Walmart has one Neighborhood Market store open, at 7421 Independence Boulevard. The mega-retailer is expanding locally. There's a new Walmart Neighborhood Market planned for 8800 East W.T. Harris Boulevard (building permits for the $3.2 million store here, if you're curious) and more stores in the works for Pineville, Concord and Rock Hill.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Outlet mall still seeking job applicants

Charlotte Premium Outlets, set to open July 31, is still seeking workers to fill jobs at its stores, mall officials said this week.

When complete, the mall's 100 stores are expected to employ about 900 people.

"Stores including Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, The Body Shop, Fossil, Gap Outlet, and more are looking to fill a variety of open positions. If interested, job seekers should email for a full list of stores with openings and instructions on how to apply," wrote spokeswoman Chelsea McAnally.

The 400,000-square-foot mall, located in Steele Creek, just southwest of I-485, is the first outlet mall in Charlotte city limits. It's a joint venture of Tanger Factory Outlet Centers and Simon Property Group, owner of SouthPark and Concord Mills.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Burger 21 eyes Charlotte expansion

Fast-casual hamburger chain Burger 21 is looking to add four Charlotte-area franchises in addition to its Ballantyne location, the company said Wednesday.

The Tampa-based company opened its first local store in Ballantyne Village. The company said in 2012 that it was seeking more local franchisees, but has yet to open more locations.

Here's what the company had to say Wednesday:

"The brand aims to develop four or more new restaurants throughout the Charlotte metro area, as well as additional units across the state. To support this initiative, Burger 21 will be exhibiting at the Franchise Business Opportunities Expo in Charlotte, N.C., May 31 and June 1 at the Metrolina Tradeshow Expo. To date, Burger 21 has 12 open locations, including one location in Charlotte's Ballantyne area, and 20 franchised restaurants in development across the country."

The company was started by the owners of the Melting Pot fondue restaurants. Burger 21 requires franchisees to have a net worth of at least $500,000 and liquid assets of $200,000 per restaurant. Start-up costs are estimated at about $400,000 to $900,000 for each Burger 21.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

New Goodwill computer store coming to University area

Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont is opening a new "technology store concept" in the University City area called The Grid, and the store is expected to sell new goods such as the Oculus Rift virtual gaming headset in addition to refurbished electronics.

The 6,000-square-foot store, on North Tryon Street, has a grand opening set for May 31. In connection with the new store, Goodwill will close its current Computer Works store on Freedom Drive as of May 28. All employees will transfer to the Grid, Goodwill said.

Here's how Goodwill describes the concept:

"Tech-hungry shoppers and curiosity-seekers will find The Grid to be an exciting addition to Charlotte’s electronics scene,” said Michael Elder, CEO of Goodwill. “Its diverse mix of new, donated and refurbished products is unique, and will make the overall Goodwill brand relevant to new segments of the consumer market while furthering our mission of helping people find family-sustaining employment.” 

In addition to the current product assortment of desktop and laptop computers, printers, flat screen televisions and gaming systems sold at Goodwill’s Computer Works location, The Grid will feature new additions to its product line-up, such Raspberry Pi, the Oculus Rift experience, audio components, portable chargers, phone and tablet accessories, retro games, gaming consoles and controllers."

The store will also feature "sleek design, user-friendly displays and a lounge area where video game enthusiasts can try out the newest games."

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Charlotte Premium Outlets adds 12 more stores

Charlotte Premium Outlets has added another dozen stores to its lineup, as the 400,000-square-foot mall approaches its July 31 opening date.

The Steele Creek-area mall, a joint venture of Simon Property Group and Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, said the new stores include:
  • Michael Kors
  • Nike Factory Store
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • Famous Footwear
  • Hartstrings
  • Hot Topic
  • Torrid
  • Gymboree
  • New Balance
  • Tilly's
  • Crocs
  • Dressbarn
You can find a complete listing of the mall's stores online here. The mall is supposed to have more than 100 stores, anchored by an outlet version of Saks Fifth Avenue.

Simon owns SouthPark mall and Concord Mills, while Tanger owns eponymous outlets including malls in Mebane and Blowing Rock.

The new Charlotte outlet mall is expected to employ about 900 workers.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores opens in Monroe

Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores is having a grand opening for its new Monroe store May 29 through May 31, the company said.

The store is in the Monroe Crossing Mall, at 2115 West Roosevelt Boulevard. Here's what Jo-Ann has to say about its new location:

"Sewing and crafting enthusiasts in the Monroe area now have a new resource for shopping and saving on a wide selection of merchandise to inspire their creative endeavors. From sewing and quilting to knitting, jewelry-making, scrapbooking and more, this store offers an outstanding range of crafting, floral and seasonal accessories, an extensive selection of fabrics for apparel, quilting, and home decorating, as well as many home decor items."

Doors open at 10 a.m., and the grand opening prizes include a drawing for a $500 Jo-Ann gift card, gift cards ranging from $10 to $250 for the first 100 shoppers each day, a free tote bag and free demonstrations.

Jo-Ann operates more than 830 stores in the U.S.

Friday, May 16, 2014

New airport concessions coming soon

As Charlotte Douglas International Airport grows, there's more going on out there than traffic jams and full parking decks: The airport is also adding some new places to eat.

A Wolfgang Puck kiosk opened recently on Concourse C, with sandwiches, salads and fresh fruit for sale. Brioche Doree, a café and coffee chain, also recently opened on Concourse E, replacing Zia and Mrs. Fields.

This fall, three new concessions are slated to join the lineup at Concourse E. Whisky River (yup, the same one with a mechanical bull uptown), a pizza place called PZA and a new Starbucks are all scheduled to open then.

Whisky River, based at the EpiCentre, is owned by NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. The club's Jacksonville location closed in January without notice, according to local media reports.

Until the three new restaurants are finished, a Farmers Market snack stand and an attached bar are open in Concourse E. They're operated by HMS Host, the company that oversees food and beverage concessions for Charlotte Douglas, and will close once construction on the new restaurants is done, Charlotte Douglas said.

Here's a link to a map of the terminal to help orient you.

And in case you were curious, Starbucks at the airport bring in a lot of money. How much? Well, in 2009, the last year I could find revenue figures in public documents, the seven airport Starbucks cafes generated $8.5 million in sales - about $1.2 million each. That's a whole lot of coffee.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wentworth Gallery closed at SouthPark

Art retailer Wentworth Gallery has closed its SouthPark mall location, the company's only store in the Carolinas.

Wentworth was near the mall's main entrance, next to The Walking Company by the Maggiano's restaurant. The store closed last week, a company employee said.

Based in Florida, Wentworth operated 11 retail locations, including Charlotte. Here is the company's description of itself, in case you're not familiar:

"At Wentworth, we define selection not only by bringing you some of the most collected and heralded artists worldwide, but by travelling to the far reaches of the globe in order to introduce you to new artists whose works are sold exclusively through Wentworth Gallery. We carry artists such as Peter Max, Alexandra Nechita, Paul Stanley, Charles Fazzino, David Schluss and Grace Slick. We also carry artworks from masters such as Chagall, Picasso, Pissaro, Matisse, Renoir and Miro."

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

New retailer coming to Park Road Shopping Center

A new specialty retailer is set to open at Park Road Shopping Center this summer: Onward Reserve, which carries a wide variety of apparel, accessories and gifts.

The retailer sells everything from $24 Healgoods socks, $165 Smathers and Branson belts and $825 cowboy boots, as well as a selection of trucker hats and koozies.

The store is set to open in summer 2014 in a space between Brownlee Jewelers and Ski Country Sports. The company also has stores in Athens, Ga. and Atlanta.

Under owner EDENS, Park Road Shopping Center has shifted its retail mix, adding tenants such as three new upscale restaurants - Cantina 1511, RockSalt, and Va Da Vie - and makeup bar The LALA Girl. Older stores, including Rack Room Shoes, Roland's Salon and Piedmont Music Center, have closed or moved to new locations.

The new Onward Reserve store was first reported Monday by the Charlotte Business Journal.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Charlotte Premium Outlets announces nine new stores

Charlotte Premium Outlets has added nine new stores to its lineup, in advance of its planned July 31 opening.

Here's a list of the newly-announced retailers:

  • Under Armour
  • Movado
  • Cole Haan
  • Eddie Bauer
  • Aeropostale
  • Christopher & Banks
  • The Finish Line
  • Old Navy
  • Starbucks 
A complete list of all the retailers announced so far at Charlotte Premium Outlets is available here.

The 400,000-square-foot mall is the city's first outlets in Charlotte. The mall is a joint venture between Tanger Factory Outlet Centers and Simon Property Group, the company that owns SouthPark and Concord Mills.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Fresh Market signs lease for new Charlotte store

Specialty grocer The Fresh Market has signed a lease for new store in Charlotte, in a former Food Lion on Prosperity Church Road.

The new store is expected to open in the fall. The new Fresh Market is located in the Mallard Crossing Shopping Center, and it will be the 18th location in North Carolina. The store has three Charlotte-area stores.

The Fresh Market joins Whole Foods, Publix, Harris Teeter and Walmart Neighborhood Market as grocers opening new stores in the Charlotte region. Some of those, such as Publix, are opening in the shells of old supermarkets from other companies (BI-LO stores, in Publix's case).

The Fresh Market is based in Greensboro, and has 155 stores total in 26 states.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Athleta, Boston Proper to open at SouthPark

Two new retailers are set to join the lineup at SouthPark: Female athletic apparel store Athleta and upscale clothing boutique Boston Proper.

Athleta plans to open a 4,140-square-foot store near the mall's main entrance this fall. Gap, Inc., Athleta's parent company, acquired the brand in 2008.

Boston Proper plans to open in September, though the mall didn't say where the store will be located. The clothing designer began opening stores last year, and is opening its first North Carolina store in Raleigh's Crabtree Valley Mall later this week.

Here's a little about each store, from the mall's news release:

"Athleta is the premier fitness fashion brand for women who see being healthy and fit as vital to life. From studio sports and outdoor sports to outerwear and innerwear, Athleta offers incredibly-flattering, versatile pieces for the entire day.

Boston Proper will provide an unforgettable destination for shoppers featuring exclusive designs, exemplary service and innovative technology. Boston Proper is known for unique details, figure-flatting silhouettes and effortlessly sexy styles for the fearlessly feminine woman.

One of Boston Proper’s distinctive features is seamless in-boutique integration of technology. With innovative kiosk-style additions known as the “Proper” Trend Tables along with Proper Stylists’ iPads, shoppers have access to the brand’s entire online inventory with “endless aisles” of colors, sizes and styles."

Other new stores coming to SouthPark include Lush and Armani Collezioni.

New Harris Teeter, Publix half a mile apart

You probably saw yesterday's story about Marsh Properties planning a $190 million mixed-use development on South Boulevard, anchored by a new Harris Teeter. That proposed grocery store is about half a mile from the Publix on South Boulevard currently under construction.

The Publix store at South Boulevard and Iverson Way is set to open in late 2015, and the Harris Teeter would open a year later.

This isn't the only place Harris Teeter and Publix have stores planned in close proximity. Publix either has or will soon have stores open less than a mile from Harris Teeter stores in Mint Hill, Matthews, Ballantyne, Steele Creek and Huntersville.

In many cases, that's because Publix bought BI-LO stores that were already near Harris Teeters, and is reopening them under its own name. By late 2015, Florida-based Publix plans to have 14 stores open in the Charlotte region.

And while we're talking about stores opening near each other, don't forget Whole Foods is planning a new store on Providence Road in the new Waverly development that's practically across the street from a Harris Teeter.

So, what do you think? Are all these new, high-end grocery stores too close? Are we in danger of overbuilding, or do you think Charlotte's population growth - such as the explosion of South End apartments - will support all these stores?

Publix's planned stores

Proposed new Sedgefield Harris Teeter