Thursday, March 31, 2011

Retail Roundup: A new hotel and fresh Philips Place shops

Today is brimming over with grand opening announcements, from Hotel Sierra uptown, to Brooks Brothers at Philips Place and Citi Trends in Monroe.

After delays, the new hotel next to Time Warner Cable Arena is open for business. Actually, Hotel Sierra was open during the NCAA tournament rounds played in Charlotte two weeks ago, but the grand opening cocktail party and ribbon-cutting is today (March 31).

Featuring a seventh-floor rooftop terrace and other amenities like a pool that can be covered with a a hard floor and lit from below, the upscale hotel is part of a small chain owned by Lodgeworks. The dozen-location chain is adding four cities, including Charlotte, this year. Hotel Sierra will add its 163 rooms to the 4,000 or so in Center City that the Democratic National Convention has booked for 2012.

At Philips Place, Brooks Brothers has completed its move from nearby SouthPark Mall and opened in an 8,800-square-foot store. The move has been underway since it was announced last year.

The high-end shopping center also announced Thursday that men's shoemaker Allen Edmonds Shoes is moving into a 1,700-square-foot store previously occupied by Old Dog Clothing Co. And Bevello, a woman's clothing and accessory boutique based in Raleigh, will take over a 2,000-square-foot store formerly occupied by the Poole Shop.

Both Allen Edmonds and Bevello are set to open this spring, said Lincoln Harris, which leases and manages Philips Place.

Monday, March 28, 2011

New grocery, vintage options for Charlotte

Plaza-Midwood residents are slated to get a vintage clothing store next month, and a new, independent grocery store is scheduled to open this weekend near the Starmount area of southwest Charlotte.

Buffalo Exchange, a Tucson, Arizona-based chain of vintage stores, is opening its first North Carolina shop in mid-April. The store will be at 1521 Central Avenue, on the strip near other hip businesses and eateries such as The Penguin.

Founded in 1974, Buffalo Exchange is now a chain of more than 40 stores in 14 states. The company says that about 80 percent of its merchandise in each market is bought locally, from area residents.

Buffalo Exchange encourages people to swing by and sell their unwanted vintage or designer clothing at a buy counter in the store. You can also swap clothing you bring in for items on sale - no cash involved. The privately-held company says it generated more than $64 million in revenue last year.

Turning to southwest Charlotte, Galaxy Food Center is set to open Sunday, April 3, in a shopping center at the corner of West Arrowood and Nations Ford Road. The store will have a grand opening with giveaways - including 90-second shopping sprees, televisions, videogame systems and grills - and appearances by radio DJs "No Limit Larry" of Power 98 FM and "Chirl Girl" of V-101.9 FM.

The Galaxy Food Center will carry a full line of groceries, household goods, fresh meats and produce and a prepared foods and deli section. Its owners, who weren't immediately available for comment beyond a press release, say they have completely renovated the location and the store will create 60 new jobs in a disadvantaged neighborhood.

The store is one of about 150 independently-owned supermarkets that combine their buying power under the Galaxy banner to get lower prices from distributors. Galaxy will be open between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and on Sunday between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Nordstrom Rack to open next week

Nordstrom's first local off-price Rack store is set to open a week from today on Thursday, March 31, in the former Circuit City building at Carolina Pavilion. The opening, at the shopping center at South Boulevard and I-485, will feature special events, including a $2,000 shopping spree for one customer.

A drawing for the "Race Through the Rack" sweepstakes will be held at 8:45 a.m., according to the store's website. The winner will get 90 seconds to sprint through the store and grab up to $2,000 worth of stuff before the doors officially open at 9 a.m. The first 1,000 shoppers on Thursday also get a free, reusable tote bag.

The store's regular hours will be 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

Rack stores sell clearance apparel, accessories and other home goods from full-line Nordstrom stores at about 50 to 60 percent off. They also sell items purchased just for Rack stores at between 30 to 70 percent less than their original prices. The first Rack opened in 1972, in the basement of Nordstrom's flagship store in Seattle.

The Carolina Pavilion store will be Nordstrom's second Rack location in North Carolina. The other is at Durham's Renaissance Center. There is also a full-line Nordstrom's at SouthPark mall in Charlotte.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

LoveSac, My Sweet Sadie's set to open at SouthPark

Two new retailers - a modular furniture company and a cupcake boutique - will join the upscale retail scene at SouthPark this year, the mall announced Tuesday.

LoveSac Alternative Furniture Company will open in the late spring at a store near the mall's main entrance. The approximately 1,000-square-foot store will sell a line of high-end beanbag-style furniture, known as Oversized Sacs (although, as noted on the company's website, "It's not a damn beanbag!"), as well as modular, washable, "Sactional" furniture. The store will also carry lighting, rugs and bedding a SouthPark spokesman said in a press release. You can see more at

My Sweet Sadie's will open this fall at The Village at SouthPark, the mixed-use, specialty retail space near Dillard's. The 1,200-square-foot store will sell "Grandma-inspired" desserts (corrected), as well as offering coffee and free access to Wi-Fi. The website,, is still under construction, but check back for more.

And as previously reported, a Vineyard Vines store is also set to open at SouthPark, selling preppy, Martha's Vineyard-inspired clothes and ties.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Interiors Marketplace extends lease, looks to move

A design store at the corner of Providence and Queens roads is searching for a new spot, but will be open at its current location through the end of the year, its owners say.

Interiors Marketplace has operated in the 4,500-square-foot building that used to house Myers Park Hardware for three years, since moving from its old location in the South End. But Harris Teeter announced last month that it will be building a new, two-story store on the site to replace its current small-format Harris Teeter Express.

"That particular location is a very visible," said John Vieregg, co-owner of Interiors Marketplace with his wife Kelly. "The corner of Providence and Queens is one of the best retail sites in the whole city."

The Viereggs signed a lease extension for Interiors through the end of this year while Harris Teeter petitions the city to rezone the site and allow construction to begin. They're searching for a new, larger location, ideally about 7,000- to 10,000-square-feet and only a few miles away.

The lease extension has alleviated uncertainty about how long they'll be there and allowed their merchants to restock the location, the Viereggs said. They've also been able to set up another season of Common Grounds, a farmers market next to the store that benefits the Urban Ministry Center.

John Vieregg said the current location has been good for building relationships with the nearby community, a vibe he hopes to continue when the store finds a new space.

"We get a lot of neighbors that walk to the store," Vieregg said. "It's been a great temporary home."

Friday, March 18, 2011

New vineyard vines headed to SouthPark - and Container Store update

Shoppers looking for preppy clothes and neckties will have a new option at SouthPark Mall soon, as vineyard vines announced they plan to open a location there in June.

The all lower-case retailer is moving to a 3,800-square-foot store, which it says will be its first in North Carolina. The location won't be shy about pumping up its nautical, Martha's Vineyard roots. The checkout area is being built around part of an actual fishing boat to serve as "visual reinforcement of the brand’s representation of the finer places and things life has to offer," the company said.

"We've always had a loyal following in the Charlotte area and are so happy we will now have our very own store, making the brand that much more accessible to our Southern customers," said CEO and co-founder Ian Murray in a statement.

The  SouthPark location will be the retailer's 14th freestanding store. The brand is also sold in department stores, online and through a catalog.

UPDATE: The Container Store, which is moving into the empty Joseph-Beth bookstore at SouthPark, has announced it is set to open August 13. The Dallas-based store has a loyal following for its line of unconventional storage solutions. For more information about the new Container Store, click here. Both Joseph-Beth and nearby Borders at Morrocroft closed abruptly last fall.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bloom stores converting to Food Lions

Say goodbye to Bloom - the upscale grocer's Charlotte-area stores will convert to Food Lion locations in the next few months, the company said Monday.

Both Bloom and Food Lion are banners of Delhaize, a Belgian conglomerate that operates supermarkets in the United States, Europe and Asia.

"We appreciate the loyalty of our Bloom guests; however, we are confident our Food Lion banner will best meet the needs of our customers at these locations," said Bloom's vice president Tammy DeBoer in a statement. "Our stores will remain open as we transition into Food Lion stores as quickly as possible."

Bloom said the decision to convert its seven stores in the Charlotte-area market was made after "thorough analysis and careful consideration for the customers in these markets." The company will also convert its eight Bloom stores in the Greenville, S.C., area to Food Lions and close a location in Mauldin, S.C.

There are currently some 65 Bloom stores, mostly in the Southeast. The company said that it will focus its energy on developing Bloom in southeast Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Friday, March 11, 2011

DKNY outlet headed to Concord Mills

A DKNY Company Store is set to open this spring at popular outlet destination Concord Mills.

The store is set to carry discounted designer jeans, handbags and other clothing and accessories for men and women from Donna Karan's collection. DKNY Company Stores often have merchandise 45 to 70 percent off of full retail price.

The new outlet will open across from Concord Mills' Coach Factory Store.

"Concord Mills shoppers will revel in our growing collection of exclusive retailers, offering them the latest fashion at incredible savings," said Ray Soporowski, general manager at Concord Mills in a statement.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Craft beer tasting at Cotswold Harris Teeter

If you're looking for a different happy hour setting this Friday, check out a craft beer sampling and sale event at the Harris Teeter in Cotswold.

The store, at South Sharon Amity and Randolph roads, is hosting a dozen breweries on March 11, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Customers (over 21, of course) will be able to sample beers from these craft breweries: Great Lakes, Oscar Blues, Harpoon, Lone Rider, Magic Hat, Highland, Abita, Saranac, Flying Dog, Smutty Nose, Crooked and Sierra Nevada.

Beer samplings at grocery stores in North Carolina have been legal for less than two years, after a new state law went into effect in late 2009. Servings are limited to two-ounce sample cups. In-store wine tastings have been legal since 2001.

Also starting Friday is the city's second annual Craft Beer Week, organized by local brew enthusiasts. Check out a calendar of events, which include samplings and contests, here.

What beers are you looking forward to trying, and what do you think of Charlotte's beer scene?

Monday, March 7, 2011

New high-end Danish electronics store in South End

Bang & Olufsen, a Danish company that sells luxury audio, video and home electronics products, has opened a Charlotte retail store and showroom in the city's South End.

The showroom is located at 1700 Camden Road, near South and West boulevards. The location is currently open for business, but a grand opening celebration is planned for Wednesday, March 30. There will be a 2 p.m. event for media and a 6 p.m. customer event, featuring hors d'oeuvres, vodka cocktails, product demonstrations and the chance to win Bang & Olufsen products.

The company, which had revenue of about 370 million euros in its last fiscal year, operates stores in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The South End store is its first in North Carolina.

On display there are the BeoSound8, the company's exclusive iPod/iPad docking station, and a new advanced sound system for Audi luxury sedans, among other products such as TVs, speakers and headphones.

You can see more information about the South End showroom at the store's Facebook page here.

UPDATE: Bang & Olufsen says they formerly operated a store at Phillips Place for about three years in the late 1990's and early part of this decade. The retailers says it did not operate a store in Founder's Hall.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Food Lion offers free groceries - if you buy their brands

Salisbury-based Food Lion is offering customers $10 worth of free groceries this month if they buy Food Lion's private label products, the latest move by a grocer to promote their own brands as competition to better-known - and pricier - name brands.
The offer runs through March 29. Customers who buy Food Lion or Home 360 brand products with an MVP Card get a coupon for $1 off their next purchase for the first four products they buy and 25 cents for each product after that, up to $10.

Grocers have been pushing private label products as consumers look to save money in a down economy. The products are typically almost a third cheaper than their national brand counterparts, and consumers have been shedding old perceptions that they are somehow inferior in quality, grocery consultants say.

Private label products have risen to 20 percent of supermarket sales, according to a 2010 Deloitte study that put it bluntly: "Mounting evidence suggests that national brands are losing their hold on the consumer."

You can see the trend at your grocery store, in promotions like Food Lion's and national brands fighting for shelf space with an increasing array of products such as HT Trader, one of Harris Teeter's private labels. Family Dollar has increased its private label product sales to almost one fifth of consumable products, and recently opened an overseas office in Hong Kong to improve its private label sourcing. Walgreens even recently unveiled a private label beer, Big Flats 1901, that scores well on price (50 cents a can) and poorly on taste (skunky, and gave the reviewer in the linked article a headache).

Have you been buying more private label products? Do you think they taste the same and are as high quality?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Flip flop boutique opens 2nd Charlotte-area shop

Just in time for spring, a store that bills itself as the "only global lifestyle retail franchise to capture the essence of the flip flop connoisseur way of life," is opening a store in Blakeney Town Center, on Rea Road.

The Flip Flop Shops' Blakeney store is scheduled to open Thursday, March 3. Another Flip Flop Shops store at Carolina Place Mall in Pineville opened last spring. 

Flip Flop Shops is a franchised business, with 35 stores operating now and another 236 planned to open by 2013. Locally, both stores are owned by husband and wife team Pam and Jeff Burrus. In a press release about the opening, Jeff Burrus extolled the virtues of foot freedom.

"The decision to open a Flip Flop Shops in Charlotte felt right, just like finding the perfect pair of flip flops," Burrus said. "Our flip flops are an extension of who we are and what we stand for. We live, work and play with our toes exposed while wearing the freedom of flip flops on our feet."

The shops carry brands such as REEF, Sanuk and Rainbow, and strive to provide flip flops that have become a "premium lifestyle necessity." The shops, which entice shoppers with the smell of coconut suntan oil, sell flip flops for between $20 and $100.