Friday, December 19, 2014

Alltel stores reopen as AT&T

More than a year after AT&T closed its $780 million acquisition of Alltel's operations, some Alltel stores in the Charlotte region are reopening as AT&T locations.

AT&T spokesman Josh Gelinas said in a statement that the transition will help integrate the companies more.

"Rebranding Alltel’s retail stores is just the first step. AT&T has also upgraded the former Alltel network in North Carolina to combine the strength of Alltel’s local coverage with AT&T’s 4G LTE network, the most reliable 4G LTE network in the nation, covering more than 300 million people.3 In early 2015, more than 60,000 former Alltel wireless customers here will begin using new devices that work on AT&T’s network. AT&T will let customers know when it’s time to activate their new devices," wrote Gelinas.

The stores included in the AT&T rebranding are located in:

- Conover: 1217 N. Hwy. 16

- Hickory: 1960 Hwy. 70

- Laurinburg: 969 U.S. Hwy. 401 S.

- Lenoir: 825 Blowing Rock Blvd.

- Rockingham: 1788 E. Broad

- Wadesboro: 220 Walton Dr.

More information about the switch from Alltel to AT&T is available online at

Thursday, December 11, 2014

High-end bridal shop coming to Myers Park

A new bridal shop called Winnie Couture plans to open soon on Selwyn Avenue, the company said this week.

The store, located at 2909 Selwyn Ave., is 2,500 square feet. Winnie Couture and plans to open around Christmas, though an exact date hasn't been set.

Winnie Couture was founded by bridal designer Winnie Chlomin Lee and Chris Lee, a husband-and-wife team.

"We want to bring a variety of options to the brides in Charlotte," said Chris Lee, in an email. "There's nothing like this."

The Beverly Hills-based company has stores in California, Dallas, Houston and Atlanta. In Charlotte, Winnie Couture was represented by Misty Zban of Kuester Real Estate Services, while Collett broker Charles Thrift represented the landlord.

A dress from Winnie Couture

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Publix opening Mint Hill store in January

Publix Super Markets has set a Jan. 7 grand opening for its Mint Hill store, the Florida-based company said Monday.

The company's  newest store is located in Mint Hill Commons, a shopping center at 6828 Matthews-Mint Hill Road. Like many of Publix's new Charlotte locations, that's directly across from its main competitor, Harris Teeter.

This will be Publix's ninth local store. Next up on the grocer's list of stores to open: Cornelius, South End and Lake Wylie, followed by Rock Hill, Concord and north Charlotte. By early 2016, Publix will have 15 stores in the Charlotte area, as well as stores in Asheville and Cary.

Publix's locations in the Charlotte area. Mint Hill is No. 9 on this map.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Walmart opening supermarket in Kings Mountain

Walmart plans to open its newest Neighborhood Market grocery store next week in Kings Mountain, as the mega-retailer continues to expand its supermarket business.

The Neighborhood Markets are typically about the size of a traditional supermarket. That's much smaller than a SuperCenter, but, Walmart says, easier and more appealing to shop. The Kings Mountain store is 41,000 square feet, and will employ about 95 people.

The store is set to open Wednesday morning. A grand opening from 12 to 3 p.m. Saturday will feature face painting, cupcakes and free food samples.

Such stores are letting Walmart go head-to-head with grocers more aggressively. In Kings Mountain, Walmart Neighborhood Market will be up against Ingles, Food Lion and a few local food stores.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Revolutions bowling to open at Rock Hill Galleria

The Rock Hill Galleria will soon have new options for bowling and dining, with Revolutions set to open there on Friday.

The 40,000 square-foot business will have 20 bowling lanes, a sports amphitheater with wall-to-wall televisions, a video arcade with more than 50 games, a full-service restaurant, a bar and live entertainment.

“We are truly excited to join the Rock Hill community and open a new and exciting venue to everyone south of Charlotte,” said Bruce Frank, CEO of Revolutions' parent company Frank Entertainment Group, in a statement.

Here's how Rock Hill Galleria describes Revolutions: "Open for both lunch and dinner, Revolutions offers a dining menu of heavy hors d’oeuvres, sandwiches, burgers and New York-style pizza. The bar showcases more than 20 draft beers, specialty cocktails, bottle service and a custom wine list.

The opening of Revolutions is just the latest in Rock Hill Galleria’s growth, as the shopping center has now announced the addition of more than 95,000 square feet of newly leased retail space during the fourth quarter of 2014 alone. Supplementing the opening of Revolutions, Rock Hill Galleria recently welcomed Home South, a 30,000-square-foot store featuring affordable home furnishings and décor that exude southern style.

“We are pleased to welcome Revolutions, the newest addition to Rock Hill Galleria,” stated Michael Wheat, managing director of leasing and marketing for Cypress Equities, the Galleria’s owner and managing agent. “The introduction of Revolutions expands Rock Hill Galleria’s draw by adding a new entertainment element to our more traditional retail offerings.”   

The mall is anchored by Belk, Sears and JCPenney.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Swoozie's opens Sharon Corners boutique

Upscale gift boutique Swoozie's has reopened in Charlotte, with a new store in the Sharon Corners shopping center across from SouthPark mall.

The company had closed its Charlotte stores in Morrison Place and Blakeney in 2010.

“We’re thrilled to be back in Charlotte and serving our loyal customers again,” said Ashley Plank, marketing director for Swoozie’s, in an email. “Charlotte’s strong economy and our familiarity with the market are what brought us back. Now we’re stronger than ever with the merchandise and exceptional service our Charlotte customers count on from Swoozie’s.”

The company sells jewelry, monogrammed scarves, stationery, invitations, stickers, drinkware, Christmas ornaments and a wide variety of other gifts and party supplies.

Here's how the company describes itself and its new store: "The company prides itself on building long-term relationships with its customers and creating a go-to place where busy, socially-engaged women can find unique gifts and party planning supplies for all types of celebrations – from cocktail parties to children’s birthdays – under one roof. Much of Swoozie’s merchandise can be customized in store including totes, glassware, jewelry, invitations and stationery.

Swoozie’s returns to Charlotte after closing two local stores back in 2010. Nearly all of the new store associates worked at the previous locations in Charlotte so they bring a wealth of experience and knowledge of Swoozie’s, its product lines and the local customer base.

The retailer has experienced a successful rebirth in recent years following its acquisition by Denver-based private equity firm Gart Capital Partners in 2010. Today, Swoozie’s has nine locations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Colorado, Texas, North Carolina and South Carolina, and continues to look at new markets for expansion."

The company is having a grand opening on Thursday, Dec. 11, featuring discounts on some items from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pat Sajak looking to bring daily deal site to Charlotte

Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak and business partners are looking to expand their daily deal site to Charlotte, as they seek to grow in a crowded section of the online market.

The new deal site is called Great American Deals, and they want a franchisee to expand the concept to Charlotte.

Daily deal sites, such as Groupon and LivingSocial, offer deals for deep discounts at local retailers and restaurants. Users can buy those deals (think 50 percent off a local eatery) and redeem them at the retailer. The daily deal site takes a cut, and the retailer, in theory, drums up more business.

But such sites have struggled, as retailers and restaurants often have a hard time attracting repeat customers who want to come back for more than just the deal.

"They've been less successful at...cultivating new customers," said Sajak.

That's where Sajak said Great American Deals has an opportunity: the national sites suffer from "a lack of boots on the ground." By fielding local franchisees who know their cities, instead of national sales staffs, Sajak said they can get better deals more likely to benefit local businesses.

Under the company's business model, Great American Deals operates the website and handles the technology, while local franchisees gather and sell the daily deals. Great American Deals also donates $1 from each deal sold to a local school or charity.

The site is currently up and running in seven California communities, including Huntington Beach and Santa Monica. Sajak said Great American Deals is looking to grow, seeking expansion in cities such as Charlotte, Dallas and Phoenix. Sajak said the gradual roll-out has helped Great American Deals make sure its technology is functional.

"You have to be sure the darn thing works. Ask the Obamacare people," he said.

The franchise fee for Great American Deals is $35,000, with a total initial investment forecast to be between $49,500 and $71,250.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Publix hiring for Cornelius store

Publix Super Markets is holding a hiring event for its new Cornelius store next week, accepting applications for all departments.

A temporary hiring center will be located in a storefront next to the Publix at 14311 Reese Boulevard in Huntersville. The event will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 1 through Dec. 7.

The company says walk-ins are welcome. You can also schedule an appointment online at

Publix says its Cornelius supermarket will open in early 2015 at the Magnolia Plaza shopping center, 8315 Magnolia Estates Drive. This will be Publix's 10th store in the Charlotte region. The Florid-based company plans to have 15 Charlotte locations by 2016, as Publix ratchets up the competition.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New stores open at SouthPark

Several new stores are debuting at SouthPark mall, including a toy store, a winery and an American-focused artisan store.

The new store lineup includes Toy Mania, A Taste of Southern Season, This Land and Silver Coast Winery Tasting Room. In addition to the new stores, the mall has opened Dave and Fran's Taste of the South and a Panera Bread as new food options.

Here's how SouthPark describes the new stores:

  • "Located in The Village next to Paul Simon for Women, Toy Mania is a 2,620 square foot specialty toy store providing the latest collection of games, RC helicopters, cars and retro toys. Toy Mania’s collection of brands include Melissa & Doug, Orb Factory, Gund, Usborne books, RC toys, Lego, Playmobil and many more.
  • Southern Season, the South's largest gourmet retailer, has opened A Taste Of Southern Season in the center of The Village. In a 1,524 square foot space, the retail concept features a vast assortment of local, regional and international samples from Southern Season’s gourmet food selection. Throughout the holiday season, shoppers can explore Southern Season’s gift collection featuring Chef Vivian Howard handcrafted gift crates and other holiday favorites such as edible holiday treats and signatures gift baskets. Shoppers also have the option to place catalog orders for all Southern Season gifts and products, which can be delivered or picked up in the store.
  • This Land, an online shopping and lifestyle site dedicated to promoting American artisans and supporting our nation’s heroes opened its first pop-up shop in the Nordstrom wing. The store features limited edition, signed, handcrafted giftware, clothing and accessories from some of the nation’s finest craftspeople. A percentage of each sale at This Land will be donated towards helping U.S. veterans.
  • Shoppers can now enjoy a wine tasting from North Carolina’s finest award winning wines and explore the gift shop and art gallery at Silver Coast Winery Tasting Room, which is now open in the Nordstrom wing. The art gallery is available for private events including bridesmaid parties, ladies’ night out, men's night out and any other private events." 

Monday, November 24, 2014

AT&T opening 'Store of the Future' in Charlotte

AT&T is opening a new store Monday in Charlotte, featuring its new "mobile lifestyle"-focused design. Called the "Store of the Future," the northeast Charlotte location is AT&T's second such store in North Carolina, following one in Raleigh.

The store features elements such as a flexible layout, community tables "that let customers shop and play in an open and interactive space" where they can test out apps and devices, and "lifestyle vignettes" that showcase how devices can be used in people's lives for things such as music and home security.

The store won't have any cash registers. Instead, shoppers will be able to pay workers with mobile, tablet-based point-of-sale systems. The store also won't have any printed brochures, relying on digital displays and touch screen devices instead.

“Customers visiting our WT Harris store will discover an interactive shopping experience built around their mobile lifestyle,” said Cristy Swink, AT&T’s vice president and general manager for the Mid-Atlantic market, in a statement.

AT&T's "Store of the Future" location in Atlanta. Courtesy AT&T
Here's how AT&T describes some of the features of its new store: "The store layout will highlight AT&T’s products and services, devices and accessories across three unique “zones” – the Connected Experience Zone, the Community Zone, and the Explore Zone.
  • The new Connected Experience Zone features “lifestyle vignettes” that offer customers a glimpse of how products can be used in customers’ everyday lives. These lifestyle pavilions will highlight categories such as music, home security, entertainment and more.
  • Next is the Community Zone, featuring “community tables” that let customers shop and play in an open and interactive space.  This space has apps, accessories and devices on display to show customers how they can work together.
  • Finally, customers can check out the Explore Zone with “explore walls” that showcase AT&T’s diverse device line-up and accessories complemented by digital monitors with product information."

Monday, November 17, 2014

Move Loot opening in Charlotte

Move Loot, an online consignment store selling secondhand furniture and home goods, is expanding its service to Charlotte and surrounding areas, the company said Monday.

This is the company's third market, along with San Francisco and Raleigh/Durham. CEO and co-founder Bill Bobbitt is a Raleigh native. Move Loot promises shoppers a "curated" online selection of used furniture and goods, documented with high-quality photographs and delivered to your door.

Here's how the company describes its process: 

  • Sellers photograph furniture, and upload the photos and descriptions to Move Loot (via the mobile app or a laptop/desktop).
  • Move Loot collects the furniture, photographs it professionally, posts it online for sale, and stores it until it sells.
  • Buyers choose what they want via the mobile app or computer, pay online and schedule quick delivery to their doorstep via Move Loot movers.
  • Following the traditional consignment model, sellers get a portion of the selling price, but Move Loot handles all of the hassle.
  • In keeping with Move Loot’s environmental values, items that don’t sell are eventually donated to local charities.
  • It combines the best features of traditional consignment shops with what has worked best for digital peer-to-peer marketplace offerings.
Move Loot plans to have a 20-person team in Charlotte by mid-2015, including warehouse and delivery workers. The company has raised $2.8 million worth of funding, and plans further expansion.

"We are thrilled to bring Move Loot’s service to Charlotte where we know people are looking for a better option for buying and selling quality, secondhand goods," said Bobbitt, in a statement.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Charlotte Athletic Club gym open uptown

Charlotte Athletic Club opened its second location over the weekend, a high-end gym in the ground floor of the Duke Energy Center on Stonewall Street.

“By opening our second uptown location in the Duke Energy Center, our aim is to make sure everyone that exercises in uptown Charlotte can conveniently and affordably experience cutting-edge equipment and programs, beautiful design, and inspirational workout environments," said managing partner Jim Donnelly, in a statement.

The new gym is 10,000 square feet. Here's how Charlotte Athletic Club describes the location: "The Duke Energy Center location includes multiple fitness studios, where the industry’s top instructors will lead a full range of yoga, boot camps, Pilates and innovative group fitness classes. The Charlotte Athletic Club’s cardio and strength training areas unite free weights and state-of-the-art cardio machines to create an inspirational setting for members to workout on their own, or with one of the Charlotte Athletic Club’s highly skilled personal trainers.

The locker rooms are equipped with complimentary grooming products, expansive styling stations and personal lockers that come with 12 hour guaranteed laundry service. Beyond the fitness floor, members can try our cutting edge whole body Cryotherapy studio, the first of it’s kind in Charlotte, and take advantage of services previously reserved for professional athletes and Hollywood superstars."

The gym's other location is at 101 S. Tryon St., in the Bank of America Plaza.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Auto House opening in Mooresville

A new auto dealer is opening in Mooresville next month: Auto House is opening its second location off I-77 at Exit 36.

The company has a dealership open in Salisbury. The new dealership will employ between 75 and 100 people, Auto House said in a news release. The company is seeking to open the store in the first week of December.

Here's how the company describes the new dealership: "The dealership will offer a selection
of over 500 certified used vehicles for sale...They will have a 12 bay service department that is open to the public, and unlike most franchise service departments, Auto House will specialize in servicing all makes and models."

A rendering of Auto House

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Conn's open now on South Boulevard

Conn's, a Texas-based retailer offering financing for furniture, appliances and other home goods, has opened its first Charlotte location.

The store, in the Carolina Pavilion shopping center, opened this weekend. Conn's said it employs about 30 people at the new location.

The business model they use is based on consumers financing goods and paying for them monthly. The store sells furniture, mattresses, appliances, consumer electronics and more. Here's how Conn's describes itself:

“We’re excited to bring the Conn’s HomePlus® experience to Charlotte,” said David Trahan, Conn’s President of the Retail Division. “We’re a fresh alternative for people who are looking for high-quality, affordable products. Our unique financing program is flexible and convenient, and people can expect a great customer service experience when they visit our stores.”

Also known as YES MONEY®, Conn’s credit program will be available in North Carolina and offer qualified consumers the chance to purchase higher quality goods at a low monthly payment they can afford, even if they’ve been turned down other places."

Many of Conn's customers are "credit constrained," or unable to get a loan elsewhere. Here's how the company puts it in investor materials. "Our credit offering provides financing solutions to a large, underserved population of credit constrained consumers who typically are unbanked and have credit scores between 550 and 650." More than three quarters of Conn's purchases are financed through their in-house credit program.

With 80 stores open in a half-dozen states, Conn's is expanding, and the company says it's planning a second Charlotte store.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

New luggage store open in SouthPark

Hartmann Luggage has opened a new store in SouthPark mall with high-end touches, the retailer said Wednesday.

The luggage maker manufactures suitcases, totes and other products, sold primarily at department stores, online and other retailers. In 2012, luggage maker Samsonite purchased Hartmann. This is Hartmann's second dedicated "retail boutique" in North America.

Here's what the company has to say about its new location:

This new 1,200 square-foot store located in Charlotte’s South Park Mall will carry a robust assortment of Hartmann products, including fine luggage, business cases, totes and backpacks, and small leather goods.
“We are all elated to announce the opening of our new store in Charlotte, North Carolina,” said Tom Korbas, President, North America, Hartmann. “When scouting locations in Charlotte, we saw the SouthPark Mall and felt it was the perfect fit to show off a range of Hartmann product to a marketplace that brings in an audience that aligns with the Hartmann brand.”

Some Hartmann luggage in action
The store’s chic design shows consistency among the other Hartmann stores, which all play homage to the brand’s heritage of providing iconic luggage to avid travelers. The store is intended to take customers on a voyage, telling the Hartmann story in a modern environment. Signature design elements have merged with new architectural details to infuse the brand’s heritage in a contemporary way. These elements include: acacia wood tables, cabinets and ceiling panels, built-in and suspended white varnish bookcases and shelves, stone merchandise platforms, and white and ivory decorative flooring.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

H&M opening Thursday in SouthPark

Tuesday is Election Day, of course, but we all know the real news this week is H&M's new store in SouthPark mall opening Thursday.

The store, H&M's third location, is set to open at noon. Here's what H&M says about the new store: "Join us on November 6th at noon for the launch of our brand new store at Southpark Mall in Charlotte, NC. If you're one of the first 200 shoppers in line, you will receive an all-access fashion pass valued up to $300 off your entire purchase! Bring in old garments to be recycled before the store opens at noon for the chance to win an H&M gift card valued between $50 and $100. Get ready to do some serious shopping to our in-store DJ spinning all the latest hits!"

Previous H&M openings at Northlake Mall and Carolina Place have drawn big crowds, with hundreds of people waiting in line for a chance to shop. The H&M store at SouthPark is located in the Macy's wing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Publix to open Prosperity Village supermarket

Publix Super Markets, the Florida company marching into Charlotte, said Wednesday it plans to open a new store in the Prosperity Village Square development in northeast Charlotte.

The store will be 49,000 square feet, and Publix plans to open it in 2016. This will be Publix's 15th confirmed location in the Charlotte area, eight of which are now open (See a super-sophisticated map I modified below).

Publix has signed a lease for the new location in the shopping center. Rezoning for the 34-acre property the shopping center is located on was filed last year (see it here).

Bonus fact: The new Publix will be adjacent to a Harris Teeter and an ALDI store. You can't say Publix shies away from competition.

True story: There's no exact address for this store yet, because it hasn't been built, but Publix sent me the exact latitude and longitude for the store to create a map.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Beau Outfitters now open on East Blvd.

Florida-based menswear store Beau Outfitters has opened a store on East Boulevard, focused on clothing and accessories appealing to the "sophisticated Southern gentleman."

The store, as we reported earlier, is in the former Maddi's boutique and gallery, in between Vestique and Pour Olive. This is Beau Outfitter's first store outside of its Jacksonville home.

Photos courtesy Beau Outfitters
Here's how the retailer describes itself: "The self-described traditional men’s outfitters opened its doors this week, unveiling a unique shopping experience for men in the Charlotte area. In the new 2,700 square foot space, the store features well loved brands such as Vineyard Vines, Scott Barber, Southern Proper, Smathers & Branson, Bill’s Khakis, Mountain Khakis, Yeti Coolers, Beretta, and many more as well as the large section dedicated to retail partner Southern Tide. The store offers an eclectic mix of timeless high quality apparel and gifts for “beaus” of all ages...focusing on the characterized versatility of the southern male seamlessly transitioning from the golf course to cocktails and dinner or from a day in the outdoors to an afternoon oyster roast."

The store has a partnership with Charlotte native Doug Alexander, of Old Dog Clothing, to feature custom clothing, furnishings, and made-in-North Carolina furniture.

“Our main goal is to create an environment that is not only great to look at but makes you feel
at home,” said Beau Outfitters co-founder Ryan Switzer, in an email. “We put forth a lot of effort to try to offer a unique shopping experience and to carry products that one couldn’t simply find at a department store or shopping mall."

Monday, October 27, 2014

ALDI opening Mint Hill store

Discount grocer ALDI plans to open a new store in Mint Hill on Thursday, Oct. 30, the company said.

The store will hold a preview event Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for customers to visit the store and get samples.  The new ALDI is located at 8000 Blair Road, Unit B.

“We look forward to introducing Mint Hill shoppers to ALDI, where they can find the majority of their average weekly shopping list from our exclusive brand products – including fresh meats, fruits, vegetables and bakery items – for up to 50 percent less,” said Scott Kornegay, Salisbury division vice president for ALDI, in a statement. “We are committed to bringing ALDI customers the highest quality products at the lowest possible prices in a simple and easy-to-navigate shopping environment.”

If you haven't shopped at ALDI before, here's what you need to know: You a quarter to rent a shopping cart (which you get back), there are no grocery bags for you (bring your own, or use boxes), credit cards aren't accepted, there's a smaller selection than at a traditional supermarket and ALDI's private label goods populate the shelves instead of national name brands. The company also has shorter operating hours - 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday - all in the name of cutting costs to offer lower prices.

The company has 1,300 locations in 32 states.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Bean opens vegan market

Bean, the vegan eatery on Independence Boulevard, has opened an all-vegan market in part of its restaurant.

Called the Market @ Bean, the shop will have a grand opening Nov. 1 to celebrate World Vegan Day.

Here's what the owners said about it in a news release: "The store will be exclusively vegan and carry items from familiar brands like Vegenaise, Earth Balance, Go Max Go, Field Roast, Tofurky, Daiya and More. Featured sections include frozen foods, baking supplies, snacks and crackers, heat and eat, condiments and dairy alternatives. Ready to Eat food from the restaurant will also be available for purchase. The Store will be open the same hours as the restaurant, 11:30 am to 9pm Monday, Wednesday,Thursday and Friday; 10am to 9pm Saturday and 10am to 8pm Sunday. Both the restaurant and store are closed on Tuesday."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sears closing Gastonia store

The slow demise of Sears and Kmart continues, with the Gastonia store at the Eastridge Mall set to close for good in December.

The Gaston Gazette reported that the Sears began its liquidation sale last month. According to a list of Sears locations set to close nationwide compiled by Seeking Alpha, the Gastonia store is one of more than 100 locations the company is closing in the coming months.

Sears Holdings has struggled mightily in recent years with falling sales, losing hundreds of millions of dollars. The company said this week that it plans to close its store in King of Prussia mall in Pennsylvania, and will sublease the space to Dick's Sporting Goods and clothing retailer Primark.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Fresh Market opening University City store in Nov.

The Fresh Market plans to open its University City store on Nov. 12. The grocer is renovating a former Food Lion store at the Mallard Crossing Shopping Center on Prosperity Church Road.

The new Fresh Market location. Photo courtesy Celeste Smith
The Fresh Market is based in Greensboro, and operates 163 stores in 26 states. The store on Prosperity Church Road will be The Fresh Market's 18th location in North Carolina.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Beau Outfitters headed to East Blvd.

Beau Outfitters is opening a shop on East Boulevard in the former Maddi's Gallery space. The store is in between Vestique, a women's boutique, and upscale olive oil shop Pour Olive.

The new awning for the Beau Outfitters store on East Blvd.
Beau Outfitters is based in Jacksonville, Fla. They don't have any information posted yet about the Charlotte location, but here's what they say about their Jacksonville store:

"Beau Outfitters is Jacksonville's one and only refined-rustic men's retail store. We embrace the sporting lifestyle of Old Florida's southern roots and appeal to the gentlemen that reflect their passion for their lifestyle in their clothing. Located in the oak-engulfed strip of Avondale in Jacksonville's Riverside, our shop personifies the pre-Civil War plantation homes that once occupied the area along the St. Johns River.
Any beau will feel right at home upon their first step in this classic outfitters. We supply apparel and accessories for any occasion from hunting and fishing, to gameday tailgating, an afternoon boat outing, school, work, or just kicking your feet up. We also supply gear and knickknacks for a beau's best friend- his dog. So whether you're a beau or a belle shopping for your beau, make sure to come by and see us!"

More details to follow as they become available...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Whole Foods Lake Norman-area store opening Nov. 4

Whole Foods said Tuesday that the company plans to open its second Charlotte-area store on Nov. 4.

The grocery store is located in Huntersville, at the Northcross Commons shopping center at 9129 Sam Furr Road. The store is 35,000 square feet, on the small end for a supermarket. 

Whole Foods is offering preview tours of the location on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 for people who want to see the store early. The suggested donation of $5 will go towards Sow Much Good, an area non-profit that provides food for people who might not otherwise have access to fresh vegetables and fruits. You can RSVP online at to secure a 45-minute tour, which includes food samples.

The store will employ almost 150 workers, Whole Foods said. 

Whole Foods has one Charlotte store open in the SouthPark area, on Fairview Road. Thee company is planning for a third Charlotte store at Providence and Ardrey Kell roads. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Anytime Fitness opening Pineville gym

Anytime Fitness is opening a 24-hour gym in Pineville, at the Perimeter Center South shopping center.

The company has signed a lease for a 6,250 square-foot space and expects to have the gym open in December. Franchisees Michael and Susan Gilder will operate the gym.

Although Anytime Fitness gyms are staffed for an average of about nine hours a day, members can access the gym anytime (hence, the name) with a key fob.

“What differentiates Anytime Fitness from other clubs is our focus on helping members get the results that they’re seeking,” the Gilders said, in an email. “We’re small enough that we can provide personalized attention for all of our members. Whether weight-loss is your goal, or increased strength or improved balanced and flexibility – or a combination – we’re committed to helping you achieve those goals.”

Here's what they say to expect at the new location:

"The layout of each club is designed for quick and effective exercise. At the Anytime Fitness club in Pineville, NC
members will have full use of top-quality equipment and amenities, including:
• Circuit and resistance training machines
• Free weights
• Cardio equipment, including treadmills, elliptical machines, and stationary bikes
• Group fitness classes, including Zumba and yoga will be offered
• Virtual Fitness in Cardio room
• Private bathrooms, changing rooms and showers
• 2 Tanning rooms (packages available)
Prior to opening, Anytime Fitness is offering First 100 Members - No Enrollment Fee. Membership information is
available by calling 704-889-0800 or by emailing"

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fresh to Order opening in Carolina Place mall

Fresh to Order, a "fast-fine" restaurant, plans to open its first North Carolina location in December at Carolina Place.

The company, founded in 2006, operates restaurants that serve food that sounds closer to a fine-dining than a fast food menu. The food is prepared fresh in 10 minutes, Fresh to Order says, and sells for around $10 an entrée.

“This will be the first of North Carolina location for us, and we think that a location at an established center such as Carolina Place is the right venue to introduce our restaurant concept in Charlotte,” said Pierre Panos, Fresh To Order CEO, in a statement. “We have targeted North and South Carolina for expansion and expect Fresh To Order to soon be a favorite dining spot for the communities we join.”

Here's a description of the restaurant, from Fresh to Order: "Fresh To Order, the pioneer of “fast fine” dining, combines chef-inspired cuisine, high quality ingredients and affordable prices...Fresh To Order’s menu highlights include almond crusted tuna steak, brown sugar roasted pork loin with caramelized onion apricot chutney and ‘better for you’ black bean and tuna burgers."

Tuna for the taking

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Publix to open Oct. 22 in southwest Charlotte

Publix Super Markets is opening its latest Charlotte grocery store on Oct. 22, the company said Thursday.

The store is located in the Whitehall Commons shopping center at 8120 South Tryon Street. This is Publix's eighth local grocery store to open. The company plans to have 14 stores in and around Charlotte open by late 2015, as Publix muscles into the local grocery market.

The Whitehall Commons Publix is a former Bi-Lo grocery store. Publix bought seven Charlotte-area Bi-Lo stores last year to accelerate its growth.

Publix is also ramping up its expansion in other parts of  North Carolina. The company is opening a store in Cary on Oct. 29.

Microsoft retail store opening Oct. 18 in SouthPark

Microsoft is putting the finishing touches on its first full-scale retail store in Charlotte, as the computer company prepares to open its SouthPark store Oct. 18.

The 2,261-square-foot store will be Microsoft's 104th retail location. The company has had a kiosk in SouthPark mall for years, but this is a fully-enclosed retail store - more like Microsoft's competitor and forerunner in the retail space, Apple stores.

Mecklenburg building permits show the store cost more than $4 million to renovate and build out. Microsoft has been investing heavily in its retail strategy, with plans to open 10 more stores before Black Friday and build a Fifth Avenue flagship in New York City.

The company has been training workers for its new SouthPark store for the past several weeks. Jonathan Adashek, Microsoft's general manager for communications strategy, visited Charlotte from Microsoft's Redmond, Washington headquarters Wednesday to prep for the opening. The Streets at SouthPoint in Durham has North Carolina's only other store.

A Microsoft store making college students smile
The first 1,500 customers in line for the 11 a.m. Microsoft store opening on Oct. 18 will receive two tickets for a Kelly Clarkson concert the following day, Sunday, Oct. 19.

I talked with Adashek for a little while Wednesday. Here are a few things he said to expect about the Microsoft store.
  • Expect a "curated selection" of the best devices made by Microsoft and other hardware makers, including laptops, Xboxes, computers, Windows phones and Surface tablets.
  • Come with any broken or malfunctioning device, anytime, and the Microsoft store's "Answer Desk" will do their best to fix it for you, no matter where or when you bought it.
  • The store will have a heavy emphasis on providing good customer service and well-trained employees. Microsoft is trying to build human connections people who have viewed the company as a faceless utility-like provider since the beginning of computing.
  • A panoramic video wall wrapped around the store's interior.
  • Two 96-inch TVs set up for people to play Xbox.
  • Every product with a screen will have a touch-screen.
  • The store will emphasize community involvement and events, with free computer classes, videogame tournaments and meeting space. To get an idea of what to expect, take a look at the event lineup at the Durham store this week:

    Thursday, October 9
    3:00 PM Teen Game Day/Computer Lab at the Library
    6:00 PM Easy ways to collaborate via the cloud
    Sunday, October 12
    1:00 PM Windows 8.1 Workshop
    Monday, October 13
    4:00 PM Office 365 Fundamentals
    5:30 PM Excel 101
    8:00 PM Microsoft Madden Mondays
    Wednesday, October 15
    6:00 PM Junior Game Developer Night
    Thursday, October 16
    3:00 PM Teen Game Day/Computer Lab at the Library


Monday, October 6, 2014

Vera Bradley outlet open at Concord Mills

A new Vera Bradley outlet is now open at Concord Mills, the designer's first such location in the state.

The store is located in the mall's Neighborhood 2, near the Guess Factory Store. Here's how Concord Mills describes it: Providing new fabrics and styles each season for more than 20 years, Vera Bradley creates colorful and feminine quilted cotton luggage, handbags and accessories to fit each woman’s personality and style. The iconic fashionable products are now available at affordable prices at the new Vera Bradley Outlet at Concord Mills.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Publix headed to Cotswold?

It seems there could be a Publix Super Market in the works for Cotswold, directly across Randolph Road from a longstanding Harris Teeter.

A rezoning application filed for the 2.2 acre site between Randolph and Colwick roads seeks permission to build up to 65,000 square feet of retail space, constructed above a parking garage. The site (map below) is currently occupied by a nearly 50-year-old office building. The rezoning application was filed in conjunction with Stiles, a Florida-based developer building several new Publix locations in Charlotte.

A Stiles representative couldn't immediately be reached. Jeff Brown, a lawyer representing the developer, said that the site is intended primarily for a grocery store, but declined to name the tenant. Publix spokeswoman Kim Reynolds said she could not confirm the possible location. The Florida-based grocer has a policy of not commenting on potential sites until a lease is signed.

Publix and Stiles have joined to build supermarkets in Ballantyne, Mint Hill and South End. Stiles opened a Charlotte office last year, in part to help facilitate Publix's planned spread across North Carolina. The company has announced locations for 14 planned supermarkets in and around Charlotte.

The rezoning site is directly across from a Harris Teeter, one of Publix's main competitors as it tries to muscle into Charlotte. But Publix hasn't been shy about locating near Harris Teeter. Its McKee Farms location in Matthews is directly across from a Harris Teeter, for example.

The proposed retail establishment in the rezoning site plan looks as though it would be similar to the Whole Foods in the SouthPark area, which also has parking located under a supermarket accessible by escalator and elevator.

A public hearing on the rezoning request is scheduled for Dec. 15.

Publix's planned Charlotte-area locations

Home South opens Rock Hill Galleria store

A new home goods store is open now at Rock Hill Galleria, the second area location for Home South.

The 30,000 square-foot store carries a variety of goods from kitchenware to food to home furnishing accessories.

Here's Home South's description of itself: "Merchandise categories available include tabletop accessories, kitchenware, home accents and decor, seasonal products, candles, ribbon, outdoor furniture and accessories, floral supplies, wine and local food products.  In preparation for the final months of the calendar year, Home South’s current inventories feature extensive winter and Christmas merchandise.   

The interior of the store
"We are thrilled to open our second Home South store at Rock Hill Galleria,” stated Grady Marsh of Home South.  “We feel Rock Hill Galleria is the perfect regional destination for our business, and we are excited to be serving the needs of the surrounding communities."
The Rock Hill Galleria location marks the company’s second operating store.  Its original store is situated in Charlotte, N.C.  The company was founded in 2013 by the operators of Carolina Pottery.
"We are pleased Home South has opened its doors at Rock Hill Galleria," stated Michael Wheat, managing director of leasing and marketing for Cypress Equities, the Galleria’s owner and managing agent.  "The addition of Home South introduces Rock Hill Galleria shoppers to a merchandise category we are confident will be warmly welcomed."

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Beer tasting & growler shop to open in South End

Craft Tasting Room & Growler Shop is set to open Oct. 23 in South End, offering another craft beer option in Charlotte's rapidly-growing craft beer scene.

The 3,000 square-foot shop, located at 1320 S. Church Street, will also have a 1,000 square-foot beer garden. It's located next door to the Unknown Brewing Co., one of Charlotte's newer breweries. The store will serve "elevated yet simple bar bites."

The store will have 36 taps, half dedicated to local breweries and half to regional beers or special releases.

“I want to give Charlotteans a way to enjoy the taste and freshness of craft beer and special releases in a bar, as well as at home: growlers are the only way to do so at home,” said Dan Davis, the shop's owner, in a statement. “I was introduced to Growlers about five years ago, and I’ve seen the momentum build in the U.S. I’ve had this idea in my head for two years and I’m excited that I am finally able to bring it to fruition.”

Here's the store's description of itself: "The shop will sell growlers in two sizes: 64 oz. and 32 oz. Patrons may buy a growler and refill it as many times as they want. Unlike some shops, Craft Growler Shop patrons may exchange any size empty for any size full at no extra cost. 

Local is important to freshness, and the sense of community (Dan) wants to build. He will partner with local breweries, cheese makers, and farmers to pull together their labors of love and infuse it in the shop.

The shop is created to practically be an adult candy store for beer lovers, foodies and party hosts. Patrons can add an eclectic touch to his/her cocktail hour, party, picnic or gift by simply choosing an item from the shop. It’s not an average grocery store."

Monday, September 29, 2014

Green Brothers Juice Co. open in Bank of America Plaza

A new juice bar is open in Bank of America Plaza: Green Brothers Juice Co., developed by a pair of
Charlotte brothers.

Jason and Josh Norris opened their store last week. Josh said his older brother Jason got the idea while commuting regularly between Charlotte and Austin, where he saw a profusion of juice bars. He couldn't find a comparable healthy juice option in Charlotte, so the brothers decided to start one of their own.

"We believe that people underestimate how amazing they feel when they consume amazing nutrition," said Josh. "Our goal is to provide quick and easy access to healthy juices and smoothies, which is crucial to combating the fast food culture that pervades much of America."

Here is the brothers' description of the store: "Green Brothers features ridiculously fresh and organic juices, superfood smoothies and nutrient packed shots that taste as good as they feel!"

Their hours are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Their goal is to have three Charlotte locations open by the end of next year.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Walmart hiring 95 for Waxhaw grocery store

Walmart is hiring 95 workers for a new Walmart Neighborhood Market grocery store planned in Waxhaw, the company said.

The store will be at 2524 Cuthbertson Road, Walmart said. There's no exact opening date set, but the supermarket is expected to open this winter. Most of the new associates hired will start work in December.

The store has set up a temporary hiring center to accept applications at 101 Waxhaw Professional Park Drive, Suite F, open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. People can also apply online at

Walmart opened its first local Neighborhood Market last year on Independence Boulevard. The company is planning more stores in Charlotte, Pineville, Concord and Rock Hill. Neighborhood Market stores are the size of a large supermarket, significantly smaller than the company's well-known SuperCenters. They represent Walmart's biggest push into the grocery space in recent years, as the mega-retailer tries to cut into traditional supermarket operators' market share.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

RUSH by Rush Espresso opens uptown

RUSH by Rush Espresso, a spinoff of the popular Ballantyne Village Café, is now open uptown, in Brevard Court.

Owner Paul McConaghy said RUSH is a smaller version of Rush Espresso, with a focus on pastries, coffee and fast service. Targeted at businesspeople going to work or taking a break, the café has a smaller menu than Rush Espresso - no breakfast paninis, for example - and more limited seating, with 12 chairs inside and eight outside.

"This is a business-oriented, grab-and-go café," said McConaghy. RUSH has 30 pastries, 20 of which are baked fresh on site and 10 of which are from local bakeries. Like Rush Espresso, the café serves Lavazza coffee.

Marla Sessoms of Legacy Real Estate Advisors represented RUSH.

RUSH joins Pho Plus and Melt In Your Mouth Cupcakes as the newest Brevard Court eatery. For now, RUSH is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but McConaghy said he's exploring weekend hours.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Back Yard Burgers seeks a return to Charlotte

A burger franchise that left Charlotte during the recession is looking to make a comeback locally, Back Yard Burgers CEO Dave McDougall said.

"Charlotte is a market that we obviously had some good presence," McDougall said. "Unfortunately, some things didn't go so well for our franchise operator so we're not there now."

The company has restaurants in Raleigh and Greenville, S.C. Back Yard Burgers was battered by the recession, and went through Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company emerged in 2013 with plans to start growing again.

Now, McDougall said he plans a "concerted push" to get Back Yard back in Charlotte, hopefully within a year.

"It's really about finding the right operator to get that brand going again," said McDougall.

You might have noticed that the Charlotte burger scene isn't exactly hurting for new entrants. From Five Guys to Smashburger, the fast-casual segment of burger restaurants has grown rapidly in recent years. Some local eateries, such as Nom Nom Burgers, have closed their doors, while others, like Bad Daddy's, have flourished.

McDougall said Back Yard's wide range of menu options, which also include chicken sandwiches, turkey burgers and salads, will help distinguish it, as will ingredients such as candied bacon and a drive-thru at every store.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Huntersville Publix to open Oct. 9

Publix Super Markets plans to open its newest local grocery store Oct. 9 in Huntersville, the company said.

The store, which will be Publix's sixth in the region, is located at 9815 Rose Commons Drive. Publix is opening another store in the Steele Creek area on Oct. 1, in a former Bi-Lo store at 12810 South Tryon St.

Publix plans to open a total of 13 local stores in Charlotte.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Food Lion offers hungry families meals for apple purchases

Salisbury-based Food Lion has launched a promotion to give meals to hungry families when customers buy gala apples.

For each bag of specially-marked gala apples, Food Lion will donate five meals to food banks in the grocer's 10-state footprint. The 3-pound bags of apples are priced at $2.99, Food Lion said. The promotion runs through Oct. 7, and Food Lion said it will donate 1 million meals (That's 200,000 bags of apples, if you're keeping track).

Food Lion is a subsidiary of Belgian grocery conglomerate Delhaize. The company has 1,100 stores, primarily in the Southeast, and has been trying to bounce back among stiff competition from grocers such as Publix, Walmart and Harris Teeter.

Here's how Food Lion describes itself now: "By leveraging its longstanding heritage of low prices and convenient locations, Food Lion is working to own the easiest full shop grocery experience in the Southeast, anchored by a strong commitment to affordability, freshness and the community it serves."

Friday, September 19, 2014

Salsarita's opening new store prototype Sept. 29

Charlotte-based Salsarita's is opening a new restaurant in Indian Land on Sept. 29, with a new floor plan and design that's meant to be the prototype for all new Salsarita's.

Company owner Phil Friedman says customers will notice a more muted color palette, better lighting and a new curved service line setup for ordering food. The 80-seat fast-casual Mexican restaurant restaurant is in the Cross Creek Shopping Center at Doby’s Bridge Rd. & Hwy. 521, in front of Publix.

"We took a lot of time re-investigating the prototype," said Friedman. "It's another chapter."

He said the design process for the new store took longer than expected, as the company focused on details such as which light bulbs make fresh food on the line look best.  

"The prototype was a little harder than I thought it would be," said Friedman. "Once you get into it, it's more than you think. It's like buying a new house."

Director of marketing Yanira Castro said the new restaurant design is meant to pay homage to Salsarita's green and purple colors, but in a more muted, modern way. The restaurant also has an awning, meant to be recognizable from afar, like Panera. 

Salsarita's currently has more than 70 restaurants in 17 states. Now, Friedman, who bought the company in 2011, wants to expand Salsarita's out from Charlotte focusing on markets in a three-hour radius of the city. The company is searching for franchisees and hopes to reach a growth rate of 30 to 40 new units a year, Friedman said.

"This year we're really starting to attract and sign the people we want who can develop markets," he said. Eventually, he said Salsarita's could be a strong regional chain with up to 500 locations. A grand opening for the Indian Land store is set for Oct. 3, with giveaways including a pair of Panthers tickets.
Salsarita's new logo (above)

Salsarita's old logo

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Rhino Market, cooking supply store come to Morehead Street area

A new market and deli similar to Charlotte favorite Common Market is headed to West Morehead Street. A few blocks away, a new cooking supply store is now open on Bryant Street as well.

Rhino Market & Deli, at 1500 West Morehead Street, is the product of Common Market SouthEnd manager Rob Rondolez.

"My vision is to create a place that brings together the communities of Camp Greene, Wesley Heights and Bryant Park and offers them a place to gather for breakfast, coffee, lunch or drinks,” said  Rondolez, in a statement.
Here's how the new store is described: "The 2,700 sq. ft. store located behind The Burger Company and Picante Mexican Grill in between the Buddhist Center and Charlotte Fencing Academy will have similar offerings as Charlotte’s two Common Market locations, including a full service deli, breakfast and coffee, wine, beer and other convenience items. The market will have capacity to host small events and bring in live entertainment such as bands, DJs and wine tastings, etc. The family-friendly space will offer outdoor seating and a place for local farmers to set up stands.
Rhino Market & Deli has been looking at Wesley Heights over the past year and started interior upfit earlier this month. Depending on permitting, the store will open by year’s end. A grand opening date has not been announced."

Carolina Cooks Food Service and Equipment Supplies is now open nearby at 1451 Bryant Street. Here's a description of the new store, which is open to the professional and amateur food service folks: "Carolina Cooks is a 31,000 square foot warehouse including a 10,000 showroom at 1451 Bryant St., is open to both restaurateurs and the public. Home chefs will be able to get restaurant-quality supplies including gourmet pots and pans, appliances, Green Egg grills and furniture (stools, outdoor dining, etc.). Restaurants will be able to buy a full array of restaurant equipment. The store will have a chef on staff and is planning some demonstration events starting this fall.
Owned by local native, Kristina Cook Bortle, and her husband, Kelly, they are relocating and doubling the size of their business in FreeMoreWest because of exposure and proximity to uptown Charlotte and Johnson & Wales University, as well as the concentration of respected restaurants in the corridor such as Savor Café, Pinky’s Westside Grill and The Burger Company.
“We loved the growth of the community and how much is happening on the West side,” said Kelly Bortle, in a statement. “Our store should be a lot of fun for the area.”


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Appliance store, gym headed to University City

University City Partners is reporting that an appliance and furniture store and a large gym are slated for a former Walmart store on JW Clay Boulevard.

The appliance and furniture store is Conn's, a smaller chain of stores with more than 80 locations from Arizona to South Carolina. Conn's would be 45,000 square feet, according to leasing information and a site plan posted online. The company has been trying to expand, including in the Carolinas. Conn's sells appliances, electronics and furniture, and offers in-house financing and rent-to-own plans.

The property is being leased by Tricor Partners, and you can view the listing online here. The other listed tenant is Titan Fitness, which operates several area gyms under the Fitness Connection name. The gym would take 60,000 square feet in the shopping center.

Here's what University City Partners wrote about the shopping center: "Florida-based Tricor International bought the 126,397 SF building and its 15.6-acre site at University Place in August 2013 for $5.4 million, tax records show. Tricor renamed the property the Shoppes at University Commons. Sales materials say that the building can be expanded by 26,583 square feet. “Additionally, +/- 15,000 SF of retail shop space is planned,” the marketing brochure says. The brochure notes that three spaces remain available to lease: 36,256 SF, 7,905 SF and 8,000 SF. All can be subdivided. Unless Tricor undertakes massive changes, the site should require no rezoning for new tenants. However, because the property is within University Place, the site is under review by the University Place Owners Association.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Publix in Steele Creek to open Oct. 1

Publix's newest Charlotte supermarket is set to open Oct. 1, the Florida-based company said Tuesday.

The store, in the Steele Creek Crossing shopping center at 12810 South Tryon St., will be Publix's fifth supermarket open in the Charlotte region. The company has three more stores set to open this year and five planned for next year, for a total of 13 locations.

The Steele Creek location was a former BI-LO location. Publix started overhauling it earlier this year. The finished store will employ 125.

Publix is entering an increasingly crowded local grocery market, with companies from Walmart to Whole Foods to Harris Teeter opening new locations and aggressively competing for customers' business.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Captain D's expanding in Charlotte

Captain D's, the fast-seafood chain, is planning to launch an expansion in Charlotte, the company said.

Captain D's is preparing to open 20 new stores in Charlotte over the next three to five years. As part of the chain's growth plans, Captain D's is looking at Charlotte as a "city hub," a spokesperson said. Captain D's currently has about eight Charlotte locations, so that would represent a major expansion of their local presence.

There's no information about exact locations yet, but we'll let you know when the Captain sails into town.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Affluence Home Fashions opens in Charlotte

A new fine linens store has opened in southwest Charlotte, offering pillowcases, sheets and more.

Affluence Home Fashions is open now off of South Tryon Street. The company held its grand opening last week. This is the company's first retail location (Affluence previously sold goods online, which it continues to do), and it will feature discounts and closeout sales.

Affluence's store
Here's Affluence's description of itself: "Affluence Home Fashions is a purveyor of fine linens, located in the Charlotte, NC area. Backed by decades of experience in the textile industry, our company brings you high-quality linens in the colors and weaves to make your bedroom your very own sanctuary and retreat. When you purchase sheets and bedding from Affluence Home Fashions, we make it our goal to ensure your complete satisfaction. Our customers are continually pleased by the superior quality of our products, and enjoy the quick shipping and excellent customer service."