Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday roundup: Whole Foods, new South End boutique

Whole Foods is now targeting late summer for its long-anticipated opening in Charlotte, a company spokeswoman said this week.

The retailer broke ground on its new SouthPark-area store almost a year ago, in April. The company originally said it would open the store at Fairview and Sharon roads this spring, although no date was set.

Spokeswoman Darrah Horgan said the new opening date will be in late summer, although the store doesn't announce specific dates until they're within a few weeks. Construction is unpredictable, she said, and the new store's interior still has work to be done.

Also, in South End, a new boutique called Blush is set to take Niche Market's place at the intersection of South Tryon Street and Camden Road. No details yet, but there's a sign up in the window announcing it's coming soon. Here's a post about Niche's quiet closure.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Food Lion expanding new pricing, brand strategy

Salisbury-based Food Lion is launching a new "brand strategy" in 268 of its stores, as the grocer attempts to restore some of its shine following last year's closure of more than 100 under-performing stores.

None of the stores receiving the new strategy are in Charlotte, though some are in North Carolina. Food Lion says they expect to roll out the new strategy to a further 600 or so stores by the end of 2012.

The new strategy involves cutting prices on about 6,000 popular items, improving the fresh produce section and rearranging stores to make them more convenient to shop. Food Lion had tested the strategy in Raleigh, Fayetteville and Chattanooga, and the company said it saw sales increases at those stores.

Food Lion is owned by Belgian mega-grocer Delhaize. The company also owns and operates supermarkets such as Bottom Dollar, Harveys, and formerly, Bloom. Delhaize has been experimenting with its different formats, trying to find a working combination. It recently closed all Bloom stores and announced plans to expand Bottom Dollar (similar to Aldi) in the northeast.

Here's a list of all the Food Lion stores where the new strategy is being implemented. And here's a blog post from January with some more details about Food Lion's store closures and the grocer's recent woes.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ruddick Corp. changes name to Harris Teeter Supermarkets, Inc.

Charlotte-based Ruddick Corp., the parent company of Harris Teeter, has officially changed its name to Harris Teeter Supermarkets, Inc.

The new name “better describes the company’s current operating activitivites and long-term strategic focus,” the company said in a statement. Ruddick recently sold its other subsidiary, thread company American & Efird, to a private equity firm.

The company also announced it will relocate from its offices at 301 S. Tryon Street to Harris Teeter’s offices at 701 Crestdale Road, in Matthews. The stock symbol will change from “RDK” to “HSTI.”

And Ruddick is rearranging its executive team. Thomas Dickson, president, chairman and CEO of Ruddick, will be chairman and CEO of Harris Teeter Supermarkets. Frederick Morganthall, II, president of Harris Teeter, will be president and chief operating officer of Harris Teeter Supermarkets, and John Woodlief will be executive vice president and chief financial officer. Rodney Antolock will also be executive vice president. The changes take effect April 2.

Here's a link to their announcement, and a previous post about the name change.

Coldwater Creek closed in SouthPark

Women's apparel retailer Coldwater Creek has closed in SouthPark mall, a largely unheralded event.

The retailer still has locations in Northlake Mall and Blakeney, which are offering $25 off on purchases over $100 through May 25.

Coldwater Creek, struggling with slumping sales, has been closing dozens of stores. "Thank you for your patronage, it’s truly been a pleasure…" read a brief note on the retailer's SouthPark store page.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Einstein Bros. Bagels new Myers Park store opens

Charlotte's newest Einstein Bros. Bagels location is opening Tuesday, March 27, at 5:30 a.m. in Myers Park Shopping Center.

A new Ballantyne store was recently announced as well. Phil Rice, the 25-year-old franchiser who owns the stores, said he plans to open as many as eight more stores in the Charlotte market.

He's currently looking for locations in the SouthPark area, near Lake Norman, and possibly in Rock Hill. Rice worked for a restaurant company in Columbus, Ohio, before moving to Charlotte last year. He wanted to own his own business, and said he gravitated toward Einstein Bros. because they have more than 700 locations but are fairly new to franchising.

"It's a really cool brand," Rice said. He bought the rights to the Charlotte market last year. The transition from working for a restaurant company to ownership is nerve-wracking, Rice admits. "I've opened new restaurants before, but this has my name on it," he said. "This is my life, so I can't mess it up. That's why I work seven days a week."

Monday, March 26, 2012

World of Beer opens in South End

World of Beer, the Florida-based beer superstore, is opening a Charlotte location in South End today.

The store has been under development for several months in the Circle @ South End apartment building. Monday, March 26, is the official opening, with live music at 8 p.m.

World of Beer has over 500 beers on sale. The five-year-old company has about two dozen locations, and was founded in Tampa, Fla. The South End location will have live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and will feature brewery nights focused on a specific brewer's beers. The first brewery night is April 10, featuring Sweetwater.

With small breweries proliferating in Charlotte and more retail beer businesses such as Salud (opened this month in NoDa), Charlotte's beer scene is getting hot.

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Levine: Charlotte a "remarkably open place for entrepreneurs"

In a question and answer session with The Atlantic Cities, Family Dollar founder Leon Levine praised Charlotte as a great place to start a business.

"There is ready access to a diverse workforce, financial capital and engaged business leadership. In most Southern towns, you need to have lived there a few generations before anyone allows you to be a “decision-maker” or to carve out a significant place for yourself in the communities of business and philanthropy. But Charlotte has always been open and forward-looking," Levine told reporter Nate Berg.

Family Dollar, now based in Matthews and headed by Leon's son Howard Levine, reports its quarterly earnings on Wednesday. The chain is facing high expectations, as it has been for the past few years. Family Dollar has been on a growth tear, adding more and more fast-selling food items and competing with larger rival Dollar General for a bigger slice of the discount market.

Here's a short recap of the retailer's annual shareholder meeting in January, where Howard Levine reiterated Family Dollar still plans for aggressive growth. Check back for earnings news on Wednesday.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Goodwill to rebuild South Blvd. store after arson

Goodwill said Friday that it will rebuild its South Blvd. store, which was destroyed by arson last month.

“Our South Blvd. store employs about 20 people and generates approximately $500,000 in wages and benefits paid per year – a significant economic impact on this community,” said Michael Elder, CEO of Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, in an email. “For these reasons, we have decided not to move this location, but to rebuild our store right here on South Blvd."

The new store is slated to open in four or five months, Goodwill said. A temporary donation center is currently at the site, and donations collected there will help stock the new store.

The South Blvd. location opened in 1993. Following the arson, which caused an estimated $500,000 in damages but no injuries, Goodwill had said it might relocate the store and abandon the site. A fired employee was being investigated in connection with the arson.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Grocery sales propel Target growth

Target is still the home of cheap-chic blowout sales such as last year's Missoni collection, but as this article from Minneapolis points out, it's a shift to far more prosaic items that's fueling the mega-retailer's growth.

The push to increase the number and types of fresh groceries and food in Target stores (initially called "P-Fresh")appears to be paying off. Target has been renovating hundreds of its stores, adding more produce and increasing the amount of floor space devoted to consumable goods.

The retailer completed making over its Charlotte-area stores last year; here's an article from last year with a price comparison between Wal-Mart, Harris Teeter and the new Target groceries.

As the Star-Tribune article points out, non-discretionary items (household goods and food) have gone from 39 percent to 44 percent of total sales at Target since 2009. That means more people are doing their shopping for necessities at Target.

The theory retailers are operating under is that groceries and other consumable goods drive frequent trips to the store. You might buy a shirt or other clothing once a month, but you probably go to the grocery store at least once a week. So, even though groceries tend to have a lower profit margin than other items, they generate more store traffic. Having more groceries can thus equal getting more money out of your existing customer base - and maybe, while picking up bananas and milk, they'll buy a scarf or set of plates that catches their eye.

Target isn't the only store to take this approach. Notably, Matthews-based Family Dollar has been ramping up the amount of floor space devoted to food, which has been a big contributor to the chain's recent growth.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Report: TrySports replacing Stickley Furniture store in SouthPark area

TrySports will open a store this summer in a 13,770-square-foot space next to EarthFare in SouthPark's mixed-use Morrison development, according to the Charlotte Business Journal.

That location is currently home to a Stickley Furniture store. Stickley Audi & Co recently opened a second, larger Charlotte showroom, about 36,000 square feet, near I-77 and Harris Boulevard. That location was formerly a Boyle's showroom (Boyle's is also reopening soon, as the furniture showroom shuffle continues).

TrySports is an upscale athletic store that focuses on outdoor activities such as running and triathlons. The retailer has locations in Charlotte, Wilmington, Raleigh and Mount Pleasant, S.C.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Flywheel Sports opens on Providence Road

A new, high-end indoor cycling studio, Flywheel Sports, is open at Providence and South Sharon Amity Roads.

With 45 bikes and classes with music curated by an in-house DJ, the classes are designed to burn up to 600 calories per hour in a group setting, Flywheel said.

The company also offers sessions of FlyBarre, a workout method combining circuit training, yoga, Pilates, dance and strength training.

Classes cost $25 each, and package deals are available. The classes come with complimentary cycling shoes and towels.

This is Flywheel's first North Carolina location. The New York-based company was founded in 2010, and has locations in Manhattan, the Hamptons, Chicago, Atlanta, Florida and New Jersey.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Krispy Kreme hiring 60 for Charlotte-area expansion

Winston-Salem based Krispy Kreme is hiring 60 people for its new Indian Land doughnut shop and production facility, which is slated to open in mid-May.

The company said it is also planning for new stores in the University area, south Charlotte and Rock Hill. "The new Indian Land Shop is a part of a long-term growth strategy for the Fort Mill, South Carolina and Charlotte Metro area," said senior vice president Cindy Bay, in an email.

The Indian Land shop will be on Highway 521, just over the state line in South Carolina. An exact opening date hasn't been set. People can apply for positions including full- and part-time team members, shift supervisors and production specialist positions at

At 2,500 square feet, the Indian Land store will have a drive-thru and be open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. There are about 670 Krispy Kreme stores worldwide.

The company encountered a rough patch after going public in 2000, with years of losses and an accounting scandal, and had to shutter many stores. The last Krispy Kreme location inside Charlotte city limits closed in 2008, at Woodlawn Road near I-77.

The company still has strong ties to the region, however, and a loyal fan base. Interesting factoid: In 1994, according to an old Observer article, a Krispy Kreme store closing at Hawthorne and Independence Boulevard drew more than 760 customers who lined up for a last box of fresh doughnuts. The reason the store was closing? That stretch of Independence was being widened into a freeway.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

New beer shop opening in NoDa

Salud Beer Shop is holding its grand opening today (Thursday, March 15) in NoDa, with free tacos and six craft beers on tap.

The store carries hundreds of different beers, which you can enjoy on-premise or take home. Salud can also handle keg orders with a few days notice.

"It's a place to hang out, talk beer and relax. So if great beer is your druthers, this bottleshop was built for you," Salud's website says.

You can read a bit more about the store and see some pictures on Charlotte Restaurant Traffic here. And you just might find me at Salud sometime in the very near future as well.

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Benjamin Bear, new boutique, open on South Blvd.

There's a new boutique open on South Boulevard, with the interesting name The Benjamin Bear.

The store is open Wednesday through Sunday, and stocks items at prices mostly between $30 and $200, the owners say.

“We are proud to offer something new and fresh to community with a distinctive new venue to explore with the latest in contemporary retail,” said owner Patrick Hill, in an email. The shop carries clothing for men and women.

Brands carried by The Benjamin Bear include Suzabelle, Supremebeing, Skargon and False. The shop plans to host monthly events including art shows and design premiers.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Francesca's Collections open at Carolina Place mall

Women's boutique Francesca's Collections has opened its fourth store in the Charlotte area, at Carolina Place mall in Pineville.

The store is one of five new retailers that have either opened or will open soon at Carolina Place. Francesca's Collections carries clothes, accessories, gifts, jewelry and home goods. The new store is on the mall's lower level, near the center court.

Francesca's Collections also has stores at SouthPark mall, Blakeney Center, and Birkdale in Huntersville.

The Grooming Lounge also recently opened at Carolina Place. Teavana is opening later this month, and Nestle Toll House Cafe and Planet Smoothie are opening in the second quarter.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A short hiatus

I'll be off work this week, and I won't be updating this blog until Wednesday, March 14. During the interlude, please email me any retail news, store openings or closings, questions, thoughts or ideas for stories, and I'll get back to you when I'm back. If you have a more pressing need, you can email my boss, John Arwood. See you soon,

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sales slide continues at Cato

Charlotte-based women's apparel retailer Cato is still struggling with falling sales at stores open a year or more, as the company reported they fell 5 percent last month.

Sales at stores open for a year or more are considered a key indicator of a retailer's health, because they exclude the impact of store openings or closing and give a more accurate comparison of performance. Same-store sales were down 5 percent in February compared to February 2011, Cato said Thursday. 
February was the eighth straight month of declining same-store sales for Cato.

Overall sales were down 3 percent in February, at $83.9 million.

"February sales were slightly weaker than our recent trend reflecting the continuing difficult economic environment and, to a lesser extent, the impact of tax refund delays," said CEO John Cato, in a statement.

Cato operates nearly 1,300 stores in 31 states, including its namesake Cato stores, Versona accessory stores and It's Fashion stores. The chain had revenue of $197 million in the third quarter, its most recently reported, and profits of $6.1 million.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Drive-thru grocery opening March 15

Swiss Farms will open at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 15, at 1431 Sardis Road. The location will be the Pennsylvania-based company's first store in Charlotte.

A grand opening is planned for Saturday, with games and prizes. You can read more about the store in this earlier blog post.

City Tavern to open at SouthPark this spring

City Tavern is getting ready to open at SouthPark mall, management said, and a new salad spot recently opened in the mall's food court.

The new City Tavern will be going into the former San Antonio's Modern Mexican building. The opening is planned for March, as my colleague Helen Schwab reported, though no exact date has been given.

There are currently two City Tavern locations, one in the Rivergate Shopping Center in southwest Charlotte and one on Rea Road in Ballantyne.

Crunch Salads is also now open in the mall's food court. The restaurant sells salads, flatbreads and soups.