Friday, August 29, 2014

Pizza-in-a-cone headed to Charlotte

If you hear "pizza-in-a-cone" and think "That's what I've been missing," then I have good news for you: Kono Pizza is planning to come to Charlotte.

Kono bills itself as a brand new way to eat pizza, one that's both healthier and more convenient for hungry, time-starved diners. Here's what it looks like:

Here's the company's description of its product: "Served in a cone and filled with fresh, quality ingredients, with its dough and sauce imported straight from Italy, Kono Pizza offers consumers a healthier, on-the-go alternative to one of their favorite foods. Featuring a thinner crust and low-moisture cheese, Kono Pizza cones are only 250-280 calories each, compared to 450 calories in the average traditional pizza slice."

So far, there's only one Kono Pizza location open in the U.S., in New Jersey. The company has 130 locations, mostly in Europe.

In Charlotte, franchisees Carl and Gayle Adams have signed an agreement to bring three Kono locations to the area. Kono also plans to open in Raleigh.

"After decades of devouring countless slices of triangle or square-cut pizza, Charlotte consumers are about to experience a progressive new way to enjoy their favorite Italian dish," said Gayle Adams, in a statement. "We're excited to introduce Charlotte to a healthier and portable alternative to traditional pizza – the pizza cone."

Stay tuned for more information on the pizza cone's debut in Charlotte.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ike Behar opens Charlotte store

Upscale menswear company Ike Behar has opened a boutique in the Phillips Place shopping center, the company said.

This is the company's first store in Charlotte, and fourth boutique nationwide. Ike Behar also has stores in Charleston, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

"We chose Phillips Place because we believe it is the best place for us to reach the Ike Behar man," said Alan Behar, of Ike Behar, in a statement. "During the past few years, we have begun to expand our product line beyond shirts and ties, striving to create a complete lifestyle brand for the modern gentleman. With its collection of fine shops and some of the best dining in Charlotte, we knew our store had to be at Phillips Place."

The company sells dress shirts, suits, ties, sportswear and accessories for men.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Lettuce Carry grocery delivery service shuts down

Lettuce Carry, a local online grocery delivery service started two years ago, has shut down, the company said on its website.

I first wrote about Lettuce Carry shortly after they started delivering groceries to people throughout the region from their Pineville warehouse. The premise was simple: For a minimum order of $25, you could buy your groceries online and have them dropped off at your front door the next day, for no extra charge.

"With a very heavy heart, Lettuce Carry is saddened to announce that we will be closing our doors," Lettuce Carry wrote on its Facebook page. "We can not express how appreciative and thankful we are for every single delivery we've made in the last two and half years, the customers we have met and the loyalty we have received. We truly thank each and every one of you for supporting us in our dream - The Lettuce Carry Team."

The company has sold off its remaining inventory. Lettuce Carry could not be reached by phone Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Walmart hiring 190 for new supermarkets

Walmart is hiring 190 local workers for two more planned Neighborhood Markets in Kings Mountain and Gastonia, as the mega-retailer continues pushing into the grocery market.

Exact opening dates haven't been set, but the company is planning to open both stores in the winter. Workers hired by Walmart will start working in October to prep the stores for their grand openings. Temporary hiring centers have been set up at 546 E. Garrison Blvd. in Gastonia and 502 W. Kings St in Kings Mountain.
Walmart has been opening more Neighborhood Markets, which are much smaller than a SuperCenter and about the size of a traditional supermarket, to compete more directly with grocers.

In Charlotte, the company has one Neighborhood Market and is planning to open more in Charlotte, Pineville, Concord, Rock Hill and other nearby locations, adding a potentially major new competitor to the region's low-cost grocery market.

Antique and design store opens in Mooresville

A Mooresville mill has been repurposed into a new store, Main St. Antiques and Design Gallery.

Michael Bay restored what had been the Burlington Industries mill. The building now serves as home to vendors selling antiques, jewelry and other vintage goods.

Here's what the company has to say about the new antique mall.

"The structure's beautiful wood ceiling beams and brick walls provide a memorable setting for a wide range of antiques, collectibles and home decor items. 

Main St. Antiques is an antiques mall featuring booths from local vendors whose merchandise changes regularly, so there will always be different pieces to see. Vendor Judith McCubbin, who has bought and sold antiques for two decades, includes painted and cottage-style furniture, vintage chairs, antique night tables, and "shabby chic" items in her booth. Other vendors offer jewelry, antique and artistic clothing, glass, and unusual home accent pieces. "We want Main St. Antiques to be a really fun place to shop," McCubbin says.

Hours are 10 am - 6 pm Monday through Saturday, and 1 - 5 pm Sunday. Main St. Antiques is located next to its sister store, Merinos Home Furnishings, giving shoppers the opportunity to browse through hundreds of thousands of square feet of furnishings on the same visit.

Interested in selling antiques as much as buying them? Main St. Antiques has booth space available for sellers of antiques, collectibles, jewelry and other items. Artists can rent space to display and sell their works. Booth space starts at $72 per month, and booths may be rented month to month. Main St. Antiques can also provide staff to assist shoppers with their purchases from your booth when you can't be there. For details, call
704-746-3636 or email"

Michael Bay in front of the antique mall

Monday, August 25, 2014

Vera Bradley opening outlet store in Concord Mills

Vera Bradley is opening an outlet store in Concord Mills this fall, the paisley-heavy designer's first outlet location in the state.

Here's the mall's description of the new store: "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 will be available at affordable prices at Vera Bradley Outlet, which will be located in Concord Mills’ Neighborhood 2 near Guess Factory Store."

Vera Bradley operates one store in Charlotte, at SouthPark mall, but the designer's goods are sold at other department and accessory stores, as well as online.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Total Nutrition Superstores open off Park Road

There's a new supplement store open in the Park Towne Village shopping center on East Woodlawn Road: Total Nutrition.

Franchisee John Vasquez said he opened the 1,000-square-foot store about three weeks ago. It's the first Charlotte location for Total Nutrition. A former operator of several GNC locations and Nutrishop in Ballantyne, Vasquez said he's been in the supplement business for more than two decades.

"I started in high school, part-time," working at a GNC store, Vasquez said.

Total Nutrition is affiliated with Danbury Pharma, a supplement manufacturing company. Vasquez said the company manufactures private label supplements that Total Nutrition sells. The company has about 100 locations nationwide.

Vasquez said that while people might have stereotypes of body-builders loading up on muscle-enhancing supplements, he prefers to focus on "minivan moms" looking to improve their lifestyles and fitness.

Vasquez said the store offers education, help with meal planning and other services in addition to selling supplements.
"It basically boils down to customization," he said. "We take that time with them.

Vasquez said he hopes to open more Total Nutrition stores in Charlotte, but plans to focus on growing the first one for a while.

"The first year, I call it the incubation process," he said. "Most customers want to see the owner-operator in the store."

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Pep Boys rolls out new look in Charlotte

Wi-Fi, charging stations, a new layout, upgraded interiors and a more friendly demeanor: That's what Pep Boys says it's bringing to Charlotte stores as the company seeks a makeover.

The company is debuting the new look in Charlotte and Matthews with grand opening events and
sales Friday through Sunday. Ad Age wrote recently that Pep Boys is trying to deal "with a fundamental shift in auto care from a do-it-yourself model to a do-it-for-me model" and boost profitability.

Here's what Pep Boys has to say about the redesign: "The new automotive service and retail experience for customers begins with a welcoming handshake from store associates followed by active listening regarding the customer’s reasons for his or her visit to Pep Boys.

The interior of the new Pep Boys look in Rock Hill

“We are committed to providing our customers with solutions and options that are clear and easy to understand,” stated Mike Odell, Pep Boys President and CEO. “Not only does this new approach allow us to better serve our customers, it also helps to reshape how people think and feel about auto repair.” 

Pep Boys’ redesigned store exterior offers a more modern appearance with stone masonry and hardwood accents adorning the building and its signage. The interior features similar elements, including an engaging color-scheme and sleek d├ęcor, in welcoming customers like never before.

The new interior layout provides an easy-to-navigate open floor plan which showcases the retail and service components that are a hallmark of Pep Boys. Customers can now comfortably move about the store taking in everything there is to offer from motor oil to mobile accessories. Also of note is an enhanced lounge area for customers waiting for vehicle repairs and service, which features aesthetics and amenities on par with many high-end dealerships, including charging stations and free high-speed Wi-Fi access."

Pep Boys locations at 5020 South Boulevard, 9415 E. Independence Boulevard, 4837 N. Tryon Street, 8620 Arbor Creek Drive have the new look.

Monday, August 18, 2014

New survival 'prepper' store open in South End

A new store targeting people interested in doomsday prepping and survival is open on South Boulevard, called, aptly enough, Carolina Preppers and Survivors.

The store bills itself as "Charlotte's premier outdoor, prepping and survival supply store."

"We have and can order Authentic Military Clothing, Gear, Ammo, Food and anything you need for the Great Outdoors, Prepping, Survival and Hobbyists or Enthusiasts," the website reads. The store carries everything from MREs and survival food to sleeping bags, Kevlar helmets, rifle magazines and tents.

Now, you might be asking yourself, what exactly is "prepping?" Basically, it's preparing for the eventuality that society will stop functioning in some kind of catastrophic collapse by stockpiling food, ammo and other survival supplies.

Prepping culture has grown more prominent in recent years, highlighted by the National Geographic show "Doomsday Preppers." That program debuted in 2012 and showcases families who are preparing to survive the end of civilization, be it through war, disease, solar flares or economic collapse (In the interest of full disclosure, after watching a little too much Doomsday Preppers one day, I went out and bought about two week's worth of canned food. It all ended up at the food bank.).

I couldn't reach the store Friday by phone. Listed hours online are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Versona opening southwest Charlotte store

Versona, the women's accessory store operated by Cato Inc., is opening a new store in southwest Charlotte at the end of August.

The store is in the Shops at Rivergate South expansion of the Rivergate Shopping Center, next to Pier 1 Imports, off South Tryon Street. This is Versona's second Charlotte location, and employs about 25 people.

Here's how the company describes Versona: "Versona is a women’s specialty retailer of apparel and accessories at exceptional prices every day. Committed to high quality fashions, the store will carry everything needed to complete any outfit including jewelry, handbags, shoes, belts, scarves, hair accessories, sunglasses, gift items and more. Customers will enjoy an upscale shopping environment in an easy-to-shop format with merchandise organized by color and trends."

Cato, which operates women's clothing stores under its own name, has grown the Versona brand rapidly and now has about four dozen stores throughout the Southeast.

The new Charlotte store is set to open August 28.

Monday, August 11, 2014

New Anytime Fitness gym at Promenade on Providence

A new gym is headed to south Charlotte, with an Anytime Fitness slated to open Nov. 1 at the Promenade on Providence shopping center.

Here's what the company has to say about its newest franchised location, which will allow 24-hour access to free weights, machines, and more:

"Anytime Fitness franchisee Tom & Tina Bradford confirmed that they have signed a lease for a 4700 square-foot space at Promenade on Providence where they plan to build a 24hr fitness center.

“What differentiates Anytime Fitness from other clubs is our focus on helping members get the results that they’re seeking,” said Bradford. “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.”

Nationwide, the average Anytime Fitness club has about 800 members. The gyms are staffed roughly 8 hours a day, but members can access the club whenever the like – even during unstaffed hours – using a computerized key-fob system.

“We make it easy for our members to exercise whenever and however they like,” said Bradford. “We’ll have personal trainers available to help you learn how to use all of the equipment and to develop an individualized workout plan, if you like. We’ll also have a ‘Fitness on Request’ system that allows members to choose from dozens of video classes whenever it’s most convenient for them.”

Prior to opening, Anytime Fitness is offering 0 enrollment fee for the first 100 new members. Membership information is available by calling 704-248-8286 or by emailing"

Friday, August 8, 2014

Walmart opening grocery store in Concord

Walmart is preparing to open a new Neighborhood Market grocery store in Concord soon, and the company said employees are in the final stages of prepping the new supermarket.

The store is 41,000 square feet, about the size of a traditional grocery store. Neighborhood Markets are Walmart's attempt to compete even more directly with grocers such as Kroger and Food Lion, offering Walmart SuperCenter prices in a smaller, more navigable store.

Here's what Walmart has to say about its new store, which it didn't give an exact opening date for: "The new Walmart Neighborhood Market in Concord, scheduled to open this summer, moves closer to completion as associates now begin stocking shelves in preparation for its grand opening. The approximately 41,000-square-foot store, located at 3905 Concord Parkway S., will include a full line of groceries and an assortment of merchandise.

“We make our biggest impact on the communities we serve when we open our doors,” said store manager Brekke Brown. “We’re looking forward to opening day.”

In Charlotte, Walmart has a Neighborhood Market at 7421 E. Independence Boulevard, and is planning a second store at 8800 E. W.T. Harris Boulevard.

The company is planning to open hundreds more Neighborhood Market locations, in a move that will pressure traditional grocers even more.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Chicken Salad Chick opening in south Charlotte

Chicken Salad Chick is opening its first Charlotte franchise Tuesday in the Carmel Commons Shopping Center at 11 a.m.

The restaurant is owned and operated by franchisees Julie Beville and Michelle Singleton, who also operate Chicken Salad Chick restaurants in Greenville, Lexington and Columbia.

Not familiar with the company? Here's how they describe themselves: "Chicken Salad Chick...puts an edgy twist on a southern classic, offering customers a “custom-fit” chicken salad experience, with 15 original flavors to choose from, as well as gourmet soups, flavorful side salads and freshly-baked desserts. Corporate offices are located at 724 North Dean Road in Auburn, Alabama. Recently, the franchise has been expanding to other cities throughout Southeast, including Alabama, Florida and Georgia."

The company has about 30 locations open now. "Opening our first of many Charlotte locations is very exciting for us, as we look forward to building a relationship with this great city," said owners Beville and Singleton, in a joint statement. “We can’t wait to bring the best chicken salad in the South to Charlotte next week!”

The duo has plans for up to 10 Charlotte-area Chicken Salad Chick restaurants, and has a second location already planned for Overstreet Mall uptown.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Southern States opening larger store in Monroe

Southern States, a farm supply cooperative, is opening a "Rural America" store in Monroe, the company said.

The 12,000-square-foot store will be located in a former BI-LO supermarket at 1,620 East Roosevelt Boulevard. The company's current Southern States store at 420 Crow Street in Monroe will close, with the current staff transitioning to the new store.

The company says its new Rural America store will be four times bigger than the current Southern States store in Monroe. The Rural America stores are a new concept for Southern States.

"We will offer products in these new stores that we haven't had available in our other retail locations," said Southern States vice president Anne Clingenpeel, in a statement. "Besides a wider range of products, we will also offer a deeper selection within the individual product categories."

Here's what the company has to say about its new store: "Horse enthusiasts and small cattle operations will find everything they need, from feeds and animal health products to livestock handling equipment. Of course Southern States pet foods, outer wear from Carhartt and Berne, grills and barbecue supplies, seed, fertilizer and wild bird feed and feeders will all be available in the new facility.

This is the company's first 'Rural America' store, which aims to provide a one-stop shop for rural residents that don't necessarily farm full-time, but still enjoy the lifestyle that rural living provides. This can include tending to a vegetable garden or lawn, taking care of dogs and cats, or raising a few chickens in the backyard."

A grand opening for the store is scheduled for 10 a.m. August 29.

The company is also opening a new Rural America store in Rock Hill next year.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Michaels opening new Charlotte store

Arts-and-crafts retailer Michaels is holding a grand opening for its new Charlotte store on August 31 in Steele Creek.

The store is in the newest phase of the RiverGate Shopping Center, the Shops at RiverGate South. The new addition to the shopping center features 150,000 square feet of retail space, and will also have retailers HomeGoods, Gander Mountain and Ulta Beauty, as well as other tenants.

The Michaels store will be more than 17,000 square feet, and employ about 60 people.

Here's what Michaels had to say about its new store and the grand opening: "A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 9:45 a.m., and doors open at 10 a.m. Michaels will be giving away more than $1,000 in gift cards and prizes hourly throughout the day. In addition, customers can win items for the whole family from the plinko prize board, which includes jewelry, art supplies, stickers and more. Attendees can also capture the fun at the Michaels photo booth and share on social media using the hashtag #GetCraftyCharlotte."