Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Plato's Closet moves to a bigger store

Plato's Closet, a "gently used" clothing store, has moved one of its Charlotte locations to a bigger, newer store, the company said.

The new "Mega Store" location, on University City Boulevard, is the biggest out of all 370 Plato's Closet stores. The company is having a grand opening on Saturday, May 4 for the new location.

The 12,000-square foot store replaces a smaller Plato's Closet a mile away, also on University City Blvd. The store has about $1 million worth of inventory, including 3,000 pairs of jeans, 7,500 short-sleeved shirts and 1,400 pairs of shoes.

Co-owner Grady Farmer and general manager Kari Schlappich

Apparel averages $10 and jewelry averages $4, the company said. Plato's Closet also buys brand-name clothes for cash.

Saturday's grand opening will feature radio DJs, the chance to win a trip to Hollywood, gift bags for the first 50 customers, and - most importantly - life-sized cutouts of Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift to take photos with.

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Gander Mtn. to open firearms supercenter

Outdoors equipment store Gander Mountain has opened a new, firearms supercenter in Monroe, and grand opening celebrations this weekend will feature giveaways and celebrity appearances by Swamp People.

The new store sells new and used firearms, ammunition and accessories. It is the first such Gander Mtn. store in the state.

"With our latest Gander Mtn. Firearms Super Center we are taking the experience of shopping for firearms
and accessories to an entirely new level of selection and service,” said CEO David Pratt, in a statement. “We are excited to bring this new retail experience and opportunity to the people of Monroe and the Charlotte metro area and we’re confident that our unmatched selection and the expertise of our specialists will make this a premiere destination for those with an interest in firearms.”

The store's grand opening is scheduled for May 3 to May 5. Events will include appearances by Swamp People cast members, $10 gift cards for the first 100 people through in the door all three days, and free hats or t-shirts for the first 250 people to make a purchase each of the three days.

Gander Mountain is also opening a new store in Gastonia this spring, in the Franklin Square shopping center.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

SouthPark gets new, local 'Style Setter'

SouthPark mall owner Simon Property Group has picked local blogger Jennifer Brix to be the mall's official "Style Setter," writing about fashion trends and merchandise at the mall.

The company now has 40 Style Setters at its malls, scattered throughout the nation. They were selected from

a pool of 700 applicants, according to Simon.

The goal? To create content specific for each mall in order to lure shoppers.

"Our approach with the Style Setter program is to hyper-localize fashion content to make it most relevant to shoppers at SouthPark. We look at ourselves as having a unique opportunity to be content curators," said Simon Property Group executive Jacque Ellis, in a statement. "You will see this content integrated across Simon’s digital assets. This program also reinforces Simon’s commitment to fashion & style."

The effort is a full-scale social media push by Simon, with Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest included.

“I could not be more thrilled with the Style Setter recognition and to be aligned with SouthPark,” said Brix, in an email. “There is a great appetite in the Charlotte area for trend based updates, tips and retailer information and I look forward to being a reliable resource.”

Friday, April 19, 2013

Apricot Lane opening second store in south Charlotte

Apricot Lane is opening a second Charlotte-area boutique, this one in the StoneCrest at Piper Glen shopping center.

The store will open in mid-May, according to Apricot Lane. An exact date hasn't been set. The company's boutiques are franchised, and local franchisee company Alpha Astra said it plans to add a third Apricot Lane in Charlotte at a soon-to-be-determined location.

The company already has a location in Huntersville's Birkdale Village, as well as three locations in the Raleigh area. "Our talented team and prime retail spaces in StoneCrest, Birkdale and the Raleigh area are key to our rapid rate of growth and our continued aggressive expansion plans," said George Toulas, Alpha Astra's co-owner, in an email.

If you haven't been to Apricot Lane yet, here is their description: "All of Apricot Lane’s Charlotte and Triangle boutiques focus on top-of-the-line styles straight from the L.A. fashion district. The fun, fearless fashion at affordable prices include new women’s clothes, handbags, jewelry, other accessories and gifts arriving daily."

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Food Lion rolls out new Walmart price comparisons

Salisbury-based Food Lion is taking a page out of Walmart's playbook: Direct price comparisons. But this time, Food Lion is turning the method on Walmart itself.

Food Lion has started running weekly price comparisons between its goods and identical items at Walmart. The company claims that, with its MVP discounts, shoppers can save up to 17 percent on groceries.

Food Lion's ad this week
So far, Charlotte is the only market Food Lion is running these ads. You might recall that Walmart also rolled out a round of direct price comparison ads last year, targeting Harris Teeter. Charlotte was the first market Walmart debuted those ads in, making the city something of a proving ground in the battle for grocery market share.

Food Lion is trying to regain market share in Charlotte, after slipping to third place with 17.4 percent of the market. Harris Teeter regained the top spot from Walmart last year, after a store swap with Lowes Foods bulked up its grocery presence in the Charlotte market.

A subsidiary of Belgian grocer Delhaize, Food Lion has also rolled out initiatives to get fresher produce in its stores and re-brand its stores to try to lure shoppers.

Top 10 retailers’ grocery market share in the Charlotte region
1. Harris Teeter: 23.7%
2. Wal-Mart: 20.4%
3. Food Lion: 17.4%
4. Bi-Lo: 7.7%
5. Sam’s Club: 5.6%
6. Costco: 4%
7. Aldi: 2.1%
8. Target: 1.9%
9. BJ’s Wholesale Club: 1.7%
10. Trader Joe’s: 1.6%

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Clothes Mentor opening second Charlotte location

Less than a year after opening on South Kings Drive, Clothes Mentor is working on opening a second location in South Charlotte's Arboretum Shopping Center.

The store's owners have signed a lease on the Arboretum location and are working on building the new Clothes Mentor. The new location will still carry only women's clothing.

Clothes Mentor buys "gently used" women's clothing and other accessories and resells the goods. From their FAQ: "We buy women's clothing sizes 0-26, maternity, shoes, handbags, accessories, & designer perfumes. We look at purchasing tops, blazers, coats, dresses, skirts, shorts, capris, jeans, pants, shoes, jewelry, & belts. We are looking for items that are in great condition and that are current to stores in the last 1-2 years."

Here's the latest on Clothes Mentor's plans, from their Facebook page: "We are in construction phase now. We hope to be "open to buy" sometime in June. We will spend about 8 weeks filling inventory by buying only and then have a Grand Opening to follow. Will post dates as soon as we know!"

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Baker Furniture in Gaston Co. announces going-out-of-business sale

A longtime furniture store in Cramerton is closing its doors soon, Baker Furniture officials said Tuesday.

"Our family has had the privilege of serving the furniture needs of clients throughout North Carolina for three generations," said Sandra Baker VanPelt, daughter of founder Floyd "Red" Baker, in an email. The store was founded in 1949, and is in a 40,000-square-foot building.

The closure is due to the VanPelts' retirement, according to the email. All items in the store will be on sale, including discounts such as 50 percent off of accessories, lamps and mirrors, and 65 percent off Oriental rugs.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Walmart hiring 300 for new Huntersville supercenter

Walmart is hiring 300 new workers to staff a new store being built just north of Charlotte, the company said Wednesday.

Workers will start in June, the company said, to prepare the store for its grand openings. The store is the first Walmart in Huntersville.

Walmart is building the store as part of Bryton, a 450-acre mixed use development at NC 115 and Alexanderana Road. That's just east of the I-485 and I-77 interchange. It's the second big development at that interchange, following the opening of Rick Hendrick's Northlake Auto Mall.

The mega-retailer has opened a temporary hiring center nearby at 104 Gilead Road, in Huntersville. "Applications will be accepted from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on
Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Interested applicants may also apply online at
http://careers.walmart.com," the company said in a press release. The center will start accepting applications starting Thursday, April 11.

Walmart's temporary hiring center

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Crocs store coming to Concord Mills

Crocs, the brightly-colored foam plastic clogs that are either a fashion faux pas or the height of comfort (or both!), will soon have their own store in Concord Mills.

The store will open this summer, though no exact date was given. Crocs currently has a kiosk at SouthPark mall and are available at a number of area retailers, but this will be the area's first dedicated Crocs store.

The store will be located near rue21 and Burlington Coat Factory. And though Crocs are probably best known for their clogs, the footwear maker actually has a number of different styles. Crocs makes flip-flops, sandals, heels, boots, socks and even accessories such as sunglasses and phone cases.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

SouthPark Banana Republic hosts grand reopening Thursday

A flood-damaged retailer at SouthPark is holding a grand reopening this week, following a roof collapse last year that sent water pouring into the mall.

Banana Republic's grand reopening is set for Thursday at 5 p.m. The reopening will feature free refreshments a 25 percent discount on full-priced merchandise.

The flood in July caused more than a million dollars worth of damage, much of it detailed in building permits. Heavy rain during a thunderstorm caused sections of the mall's roof to collapse, inundating stores and sending shoppers fleeing for the exits.

Much of the mall was closed for several days, and some stores took weeks to repair damage and reopen. Banana Republic was the most extensively damaged and took the longest, with eight months elapsing since the collapse.

Flood following the collapse, courtesy WCNC-TV

Banana Republic poster

Monday, April 1, 2013

Harris Teeter regains top spot in Charlotte grocery market

New data from retail sale-tracking firm Chain Store Guide show Matthews-based Harris Teeter back on top as the region's leading grocer, trading spots with Walmart.

Much of the increase from 2011 appears to be due to a store-swap with Lowes Foods last year, in which Harris Teeter picked up 10 Lowes grocery stores in and around Charlotte. Harris Teeter gave Lowes some stores in outlying areas as well (along with $26.5 million). The move netted Harris Teeter eight new stores in the Charlotte market, and pushed it back to the No. 1 position.

Harris Teeter, along with its two 201central stores, sold 23.7 percent of the region's groceries last year. Wal-Mart was No. 2, with 20.4 percent of sales, and Food Lion was No. 3, with 17.4 percent.

When combined with warehouse store Sam's Club, which it also owns and operates, Walmart is still the leading grocer, however. Together, Wal-Mart and Sam's Club sold 26 percent of groceries in the Charlotte region.

Here's how the new numbers break down for the top 10 grocers in the region, with 2012 market share in bold and 2011 in (parentheses):

1. Harris Teeter: 23.7 percent (21.1 percent)
2. Wal-Mart: 20.4 percent (21.5 percent)
3. Food Lion: 17.4 percent (17.7 percent)
4. Bi-Lo: 7.7 percent (7.7 percent)
5. Sam's Club: 5.6 percent (5.8 percent)
6. Costco: 4 percent (4.2 percent)
7. Aldi: 2.1 percent (2 percent)
8. Target: 1.9 percent (1.3 percent)
9. BJ's Wholesale Club: 1.7 percent (1.8 percent)
10. Trader Joe's: 1.6 percent (1.5 percent)