Monday, July 22, 2013

New Walmart Neighborhood Market for east Charlotte?

It looks like there could be another Walmart Neighborhood Market - the mega-retailer's smaller supermarket variant - headed to east Charlotte.

Building permit information for a store at 3112 Milton Road shows a project with this description: "Walmart-4190 Sharon Amity. Modification of the existing retail building to incoporate (sic) a Wal-mart Neighborhood Market."

There is currently a Compare Foods supermarket at that location. Compare Foods partner Omar Jorge said Compare Foods has a long-term lease for the site, but said he couldn't comment further.

Walmart has been working to rapidly expand its Neighborhood Market stores. The company opened its first Neighborhood Market in the area earlier this year on Independence Blvd., in Charlotte.

The stores are the size of a traditional supermarket, less than a third the size of a typical Walmart Supercenter. They carry grocery items and a limited selection of general goods, with the same pricing as Supercenters.

The Neighborhood Markets are meant to offer shoppers a quicker option than going through a massive supercenter just for groceries. But they're pressuring traditional supermarkets, such as Harris Teeter and Food Lion, with a tough new competitor.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Jewelry boutique opening in Ritz-Carlton

Charlotte is about to get a touch of Beverly Hills, with a new jewelry boutique set to open in the Ritz-Carlton uptown later this month.

Celebrity jewelry designer Jason Arasheben is opening a "Jason of Beverly Hills" store in the hotel on July 27. This will be the third such dedicated store. Arasheben already has JBH locations in Beverly Hills and Las Vegas.

"With the success of our Las Vegas and Beverly Hills boutiques, we felt like a hotel-based shop in a city which inspires our brand was a natural fit," said Arasheben, in a statement. "The Ritz Carlton, Charlotte is stylish and timeless, while also being trendy and modern, like our customers."

The company said the Charlotte boutique, "will carry many conservative pieces for its Charlotte clientele as well as its over-the-top, signature diamond creations that have set Jason of Beverly Hills apart from his peers."

The July 27 opening will feature R&B singer Luke James (featured in the video embedded here), local radio station Channel 96.1 and amaretto-flavored Ciroc .

Arasheben is clearly catering to a high-end clientele. His original showroom has a $100,000 minimum purchase and is open by appointment only. His past customers include, "Princess Latifa Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, Matthew McConaughey and the late Michael Jackson."

I tried to price a men's white tiger ring on the website, but was told that I had to put the item on a wish list and then"private account managers will contact you with more information regarding the pieces you’ve added." I guess they knew I was window-shopping.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tijuana Flats heading to old Italian Pie building

A new Tex-Mex restaurant is moving into the former Italian Pie location on East Boulevard.

Tijuana Flats is planning to reenter the Charlotte market with a 2,700-square-foot location at 1608 East Boulevard. The restaurant is expected to open near the end of the year, the company said.

There are plans for two more Tijuana Flats locations in Charlotte in the near future, the company said, and ultimately the region could have 15 or so locations. There are three Tijuana Flats in the Raleigh-Durham area, and a fourth is being built near Duke University.

“North Carolina has become a focus of growth and we are very excited to have our first Charlotte store on East Blvd.,” said Tijuana Flats real estate manager Matthew Livingston, in a statement. “We are now committed to growing our Charlotte presence.”

Tijuana Flats made a run at Charlotte before, with restaurants on Prosperity Church Road and Pineville-Matthews Road in Charlotte and on Gilead Road in Huntersville. Those restaurants all apparently closed several years ago.

On East Boulevard, the company will be joining a line-up of Tex-Mex restaurants that includes Moe's, Longboard's Tap and Taco, and Cantina 1511.

Here's Tijuana Flats' description, for those of you unfamiliar with Tijuana Flats: "Established in 1995 in Winter Park, Fla., Tijuana Flats is a unique, fast-casual Tex-Mex dining experience featuring superior guest service and fresh, made-to-order food. Tijuana Flats has 93 locations in Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The restaurants are typically found in high-traffic areas and average 2,400 square feet."

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Krispy Kreme re-opening Matthews store Friday

How much do you love doughnuts? Enough to wait in line at midnight for a Krispy Kreme doughnut store to reopen?

The Krispy Kreme in Matthews, at 9301 East Independence Boulevard, has been closed since February for a complete renovation. The store is set to reopen on Friday, July 19, at midnight.

The Winston-Salem-based company is offering prizes to lure people to the rebuilt store. The first customer in line gets a dozen free doughnuts per week for a year. The next 99 people also get a dozen free doughnuts per month for a year, as well as "a commemorative Krispy Kreme Matthews T-shirt."

Note that these prizes exclude the drive-thru, so don't assume you can wait in air-conditioned comfort listening to your radio.

Building permits issued by Mecklenburg County show the shop cost $629,000 to build (and the old one cost only $7,000 to demolish - cheaper than I would have guessed).

And if you need instant notification of fresh Krispy Kreme availability, you can download the Hot Light App for your phone. Here's the app's description:

On a road trip or stuck at the office daydreaming about the mouth-watering goodness of a Hot Original Glazed® Doughnut? Never miss another opportunity to get a Krispy Kreme doughnut Hot… the line.

With Hot Light Online you can map your nearest Krispy Kreme location from your phone and get alerts when the neon glow of "Hot Now" is activated in your area. So lookup, download or tweet your way to find a hot Krispy Kreme doughnut near you with any of the following free options.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Sam's Club hiring 175 for new Mooresville store

Sam's Club plans to hire 175 associates for its new Mooresville store, and will open a hiring center next week to start screening applicants.

The 136,000-square-foot store is set to open in the late fall, off Exit 36 on Interstate 77. The store will have a gas station, pharmacy, photo center, optical services and wine and liquor departments.

Store manager Patrick Walker said the store will give preference to veterans honorably discharged in the last 12 months in the hiring process, as part of Walmart and Sam's Club's Veterans Welcome Home Initiative.

The new hiring center will be opened at 11 a.m. Tuesday, July 16. The address is 168D Norman Station Boulevard, Mooresville.

Sam's Club, a division of Walmart, accounted for 5.6 percent of grocery sales in the Charlotte region last year, according to data from Chain Store Guide.

Walker said the cause of veteran employment is personal for him. A veteran of the First Gulf War - he served 12 years in the Navy - Walker was laid off from Freightliner after four years of working there.

He took a job as a night stocker at Sam's Club. "When I first started at Sam’s, I was just waiting on Freightliner to call me back," said Walker. He ended up staying at Sam's Club and moving to management.

Walker is already training the first 10 associates for the new Sam's Club. He has been with the company for 12 years, including two as manager of the Matthews location.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mattress Firm opening new Charlotte store

A new Mattress Firm store is opening this week on South Boulevard, the retailer's 33rd location in the Charlotte region.

The store is located at 1901 South Boulevard. Houston-based Mattress Firm spent $197,501 renovating the interior, according to building permits on file with Mecklenburg County.

The new, 4,760-square foot Mattress Firm is set to open on Friday.

Like other Mattress Firm stores, this one will be color-coded by mattress firmness: "Firm(Yellow), Plush (Orange), Pillow Top (Red), Contoured (Green) and Personalized (Blue)."

Here's what Mattress Firm CEO Steve Stagner has to say, in a statement: “Our goal is to make the experience of shopping for a new mattress as simple and rewarding a process as possible, and with our unparalleled selection and knowledgeable staff we will do just that.”

In its most recent quarter, Mattress Firm turned a profit of $9.7 million on sales of nearly $210 million.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Piedmont Town Center rounds out retail, dining lineup

Piedmont Town Center, the office, restaurant and retail complex in the SouthPark area, has added a few high-profile names to its tenant lineup over the past several months.

"We're excited to have the momentum, and hoping to continue that," said Betsy McIntyre, Piedmont Town Center's vice president of retail and leasing.

In February, Tour Tennis opened next to George's Brasserie. The 2,400-square-foot store offers tennis supplies and services such as stringing racquets.

J. Sam's, a new wine bar, opened in March in the former Dolcetto's wine bar spot. Brought by owner J. Sam Daniels, the place also offers spirits and food, including appetizers, entrees and desserts.

And a home furnishings store, Brock Moran Home, has signed a lease for 5,400 square feet at Piedmont Town Center. Brock Moran will be located next to Taco Mac. The store, which has a current location at the Village at Robinson Farm, is targeting a September opening.

Adding two more dining options at Piedmont Town Center, frozen yogurt store TCBY opened a location there at the end of May, and Cast Iron Waffles opened last week. The store is the second for Cast Iron Waffles, a South Charlotte favorite, while TCBY is operated by Sam Batt, Charlotte's preeminent frozen yogurteer.

There are still vacant spaces to lease at Piedmont Town Center. The three remaining suites range from 1,600 to more than 5,500 square feet. 

McIntyre said the center's focus has been on leasing to quality tenants. "We haven’t just taken orders to fill space with a warm body," she said.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

UPDATE: Northlake Mall working on H&M store location

It looks like H&M, the Swedish fast-fashion retailer, could soon have another location in Charlotte.

Work is currently underway on the former Borders bookstore at Northlake Mall, a colleague reports to me. Workers have said that an H&M will go into the location.

County building permit records show a project called "H & M Northlake" was created on June 17, with a status of pending. Tellingly, the building permits list store R206 as the location for the new H&M Northlake project. That unit is the former Borders store.

And an apparent fan posted on Northlake's Facebook page last month: "H&M @ Northlake Mall coming soon!!!!!! EXCITED!!!♥♥♥" The post hasn't been removed.

On Tuesday, Northlake Mall's general manager Phil Morosco wouldn't confirm that the retailer is definitely coming to the north Charlotte mall. But he strongly hinted that a store is in the works.

"Nothing is completed yet," he said. "We're hoping to work something out to bring them to Northlake."

Morosco said he hoped to have more information to share soon. An H&M representative couldn't immediately be reached.

In May, H&M announced its first location in Charlotte, a 17,000-square-foot store at Carolina Place mall. The store is slated to open this fall.

H&M has over 2,900 locations worldwide, including two in Raleigh and one in Winston-Salem.

Northlake is owned by Taubman Centers, a national mall company. The 1 million-square-foot, two-level mall opened in 2005.

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North Carolina's final tax-free weekend?

If you've been considering whether to buy clothing or a computer, North Carolina's retailers are hoping that next month's sales tax holiday will give you the nudge you need to make the buy.

But the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association is lobbying the legislature not to do away with the annual three-day suspension of the sales tax. Although there are different versions of tax reform in the state Senate, House, and governor's office, the Senate version of a tax bill would eliminate the holiday after this year.

The sales tax holiday is currently scheduled to run Aug. 2 - Aug. 4. Retailers like the sales tax-free weekend because it spurs shoppers to visit their stores and make purchases for the back-to-school season (Mecklenburg's sales tax is 7.25 percent, meaning you'll save $7.25 off $100 worth of goods if you don't have to pay the tax).

Many structure sales events around the weekend. The NCRMA said retailers in the state add 8,300 work-hours during the holiday, and that the tax holiday gives them the chance to compete with online retailers and surrounding states.

"Without this weekend, the state’s business climate will suffer significantly as our residents will travel across state lines to shop tax-free weekends in surrounding states," said NCRMA president Andy Ellen, in a statement.

However, opponents of the sales tax holiday say it only induces consumers to shift their spending by a few weeks, and doesn't generate new demand. Last year, the N.C. Department of Revenue estimated that the sales tax holiday cost the state $14.5 million in lost revenue.

Here's a summary of what the sales tax holiday covers: "Clothing, footwear, and school supplies of $100 or less per item; school instructional materials of $300 or less per item; sports and recreation equipment of $50 or less per item, computers of $3,500 or less per item; and computer supplies of $250 or less per item will be exempt." For a detailed list, click here.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Need to pick a wine? Harris Teeter has an app for that

Forget the mystery of whether or not a private equity fund will buy Matthews-based Harris Teeter: The grocer has a new app feature to help customers pick out wine and locate a good bottle in its stores.

Harris Teeter is partnering with Hello Vino, a mobile wine selection and pairing app. The new feature for Harris Teeter shoppers will be called Wine Assistant, and it will be available on iPhones and Androids as part of the free "ht mobile" app the grocer currently offers.

Harris Teeter says the new Wine Assistant "will recommend ideal wine pairings for any dish or special occasion; it will also sort wines by a shopper’s personal taste preferences, allow wines to be searched and show a wine’s location in-store. The app will deliver tasting notes and wine profiles to assist shoppers with their purchases."

So, if you're like me an typically stare for 15 minutes at the wine selection before inevitably choosing the same $6 bottle, Wine Assistant might definitely come in handy.