Thursday, August 22, 2013

Clothes Mentor holds grand opening in Arboretum

Clothes Mentor, the upscale used-clothing store for women, is holding a grand opening Thursday for its second Charlotte location, at the Arboretum shopping center.

Both stores are franchises, locally-owned by Charlotteans Shawn and Alyssa Cox. At the Arboretum location, the first 25 customers in line Thursday will receive a $25 gift card. The store opens at 10

Here's a description of what Clothes Mentor buys 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."

They then resell those items at (I'm told by female friends who shop there) reasonable prices.

The Arboretum store has been open for a few weeks to buy clothing and fill out its inventory, but Thursday is the first day it will be open to shoppers.

The other Clothes Mentor in Charlotte is on Kings Drive, near Morehead Street.

Read more here:

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

H&M makes it official: Northlake store coming

Swedish fast-fashion retailer H&M announced Tuesday that it is planning a second Charlotte-area store, this one at Northlake Mall.

The announcement isn't a big surprise: Building permits, the mall's marketing materials and Northlake's Facebook page all confirmed the new store last month.

The store will open in the fall, H&M said, the same time frame for the previously-announced Carolina Place store. It wasn't immediately clear Tuesday which will open first.

The store will debut in a 28,000 square-foot space, larger than the 17,000 square-foot Carolina Place store. It will be in Northlake's former Borders bookstore space. Building permits show the retailer is spending more than $2 million on the project.

Here's the retailer's description of the new H&M store: "The new store will include full-priced collections for ladies, men, young ladies and young men, with separate “store within store” sections for accessories, lingerie, sports apparel and maternity. This location will also carry H&M’s fantastic children’s collection, which will feature quality clothing for kids ages newborn to eight, as well as H&M’s plus-size line, H&M+."

So, in the space of a few months, Charlotte will go from being H&M free to a land with Swedish fashion on offer at both its northern and southern shopping malls. Everyone who is a fan of H&M (I have to admit I've only shopped there once, but I'm curious to see more) must be excited.

Except, I can imagine, SouthPark mall. If the city gets a third H&M, do you think that would be a good place for it? Where else would you like to see an H&M, and what other stores do you think Charlotte still lacks?

H&M fast facts: The retailer has 2,900 stores worldwide, including 278 in the U.S., is opening 350 more stores worldwide in 2013 and employs 104,000 people. The company has annual sales of more than $18 billion, and the letters in its name stand for Hennes & Mauritz.

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New boutique opens in Birkdale Village

A new women's boutique, Uniquities, is open in Huntersville's Birkdale Village.

The store is the third location for Uniquities, which also has stores in Chapel Hill and Raleigh.

The original store opened by 1992 by owner Julie Jennings, with a "curated selection of designer clothing and accessories."

Here's a description of what to expect at Uniquities from a news release the company sent: "The denim wall features the latest styles by top premium denim designers like AG Jeans, Citizens of Humanity, Seven For All Mankind, J Brand, and Paige Denim. Besides the basics, Uniquities boasts a well-edited assortment of casual and cocktail dresses from Diane von Furstenberg, Shoshanna, and Parker. Sought after styles from Theory, Joie, Rebecca Taylor, Vince, and Nicole Miller give our customer a look she won’t find anywhere else. You'll also find jewelry and accessories by House of Harlow 1960, Foley & Corinna, Rebecca Minkoff, Gorjana, and more."

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Local retailers try phone-scanning checkout options

Two local retailers are rolling out new options to check out with your smart phone, which they say will save customers time.

Compare Foods on Arrowood Road and Sam's Club in Pineville both said in the last week that they're testing the options. Although they're using different provides - Compare Foods is using Swift Shopper, and Sam's Club is using an in-house app - the premise is similar.

At both stores, customers can use their phone to scan items while they shop, and place those items in their shopping carts. When they reach the checkout counter, customers' phones generate a code that the cashier can then scan at the register to ring up the customer, rather than taking everything out and scanning it individually.

"By allowing our customers to use their mobile devices to scan as they shop, we will be saving them valuable time and money, two things particularly critical to our working-class clientele," said Omar Jorge, Compare Foods partner, in a statement.

Compare Foods plans to upgrade its registers at other stores to be able to read the Swift Shopper codes once the pilot at the Arrowood Road store is complete. The store is Swift Shopper's first retail partner.

At Sam's Club in Pineville, the Scan & Go option is part of the Sam's Club app. It works much the same way, with customers scanning items with their phones while they shop and then using the phone to check out at the register.

Scan & Go works at the self-checkout line or registers with cashiers. In addition to saving time, the company says Scan & Go offers the advantages of tracking your spending patterns, avoiding lifting heavy and bulky items multiple times, and "privacy when buying personal items."

The technology is in a handful of Sam's Club stores in North Carolina, but should roll out more widely soon.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Family Dollar buyout speculation heats up again

Is Matthews-based Family Dollar, one of the area's Fortune 500 companies, an acquisition target again?

Speculation is swirling, 2 1/2 years after an activist shareholder first pushed to buy the company and take it private. Over the last few weeks, several analysts have offered their opinion on whether or not a sale is likely, with some saying that Family Dollar could be bought out by its larger rival Dollar

A deal for Dollar General buying Family Dollar would make "compelling strategic sense," said a Credit Suisse analyst last week.  Tennessee-based Dollar General could pay between $90 and $100 a share for Family Dollar, a significant premium to its $71.XX closing price on Friday. And a Citigroup analyst said last month that the chances of a Family Dollar buyout are 50-50.

Here's what's behind all the speculation:

  • An agreement Family Dollar had with shareholder Nelson Peltz, of Trian Fund Management, expired last month. Under the agreement, Peltz and Trian - who had previously pushed  to buy Family Dollar - agreed not to do anything further concerning the company in exchange for a board seat.
  • Potential leadership changes at Family Dollar. During a conference call with investors last month, CEO Howard Levine addressed the top management changes underway at the company, and said he's now looking towards succession planning.
  • As Bloomberg reported July 30, investor calls betting that the company's stock will rise hit an all time high, fueled by speculation that there could be an acquisition.
So what would it mean if Family Dollar were bought or merged with another company? For one, it would be the loss of the city's third Fortune 500 headquarters in the past several years, a blow to prestige. Harris Teeter, which is being acquired by Kroger Co., and Goodrich, bought by United Technologies Corp., are the other two.

It's all just speculation at this point, of course. Family Dollar hasn't indicated it's looking at strategic alternatives, and managers of the company say they remain committed to cutting costs and growing.

Also, the prices being talked about are much higher than in 2011, when Peltz proposed buying Family Dollar for $55 to $60. But a possible Family Dollar acquisition is something to keep an eye on over the next year.