When you think shopping and retail, there are definitely a few Charlotte neighborhoods that come to mind. SouthPark and Pineville for mall shopping, Dilworth and South End for boutiques, Plaza Midwood and NoDa for some unique options. There’s a new contending neighborhood in the local retail world and it’s lined with skyscrapers and condominiums.
That’s right, Uptown is a well kept secret in the retail world here in Charlotte and it’s only going to get better. The Charlotte Center City Partners work to support current retail and push for new and unique options that complement the Charlotteans that work and reside there.
Current retail is mostly centered around the Overstreet Mall (Ivy & Leo, Blis Gift Boutique, Julie’s, The Beehive and CC’s Accessories to name a few) with some notable spots in the Latta Arcade (Berhan’s Jewelry and Canvas Boutique) plus a few outliers such as Abbeydale on 4th Street and the 7th Street Public Market. The options are relatively spread out among Uptown, making it tough to shop all in one day, but there are definitely some great clustered options to visit during your lunch hour or on a Saturday afternoon.
Chris Hemans, director of retail for Charlotte Center City Partners, is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the past, present and future of retail in Uptown. Sitting down with him, I learned that there is a definite need for retail and shopping in the area. There are over 100,000 people who commute to Uptown daily for work, but there’s not an area that satiates their need for shopping.
Charlotte Center City Partners is there to assess that need and support small business and big business alike who hope to call Uptown home.
One way that they offer support is through pop-up shop events in both Uptown and South End. Events in Uptown are centered around holidays and other big events happening in the area. Past events include Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and the most recent December holiday season: GW, A Pop-up Store, at the EpiCentre, Tinselbox at Foundation for the Carolinas and Blue Hem at Latta Arcade have all proven that there’s a certain demand for shopping in the Uptown area.
Between the three pop-ups, they’ve grossed over $70,000 and well surpassed the expectation for the series of events. Tinselbox alone saw a revenue of over $25,000, which happened in three short days. In addition, the Sip and Shop event that happened at the 7th Street Public Market during the dedicated pop-up week saw a record number of 1,200 people in three hours and over 35 vendors.
From a vendor’s standpoint (full disclosure: Jordan Dollard is the owner of Elsa Fine Boutique), it was exciting to be in a neighborhood where there is a need and a want for shopping.
The Uptown workforce have proven that they would happily support potential stores, both local and big brand. Everyone I met had a different reason for walking in, whether it be an email from executives in their office telling them to go shop, seeing signs around Uptown or just walking by and being curious.
Shoppers enjoyed the unique concept of GW: A Pop-up Store. Goodwill curated a special collection of interesting buys, from designer clothing, to funky interiors. It’s a relatively new concept and one that shoppers were willing to walk up the EpiCentre steps to find.
Tinselbox: A Holiday Pop-Up, was more traditional in format but well curated all the same. The space was right on Tryon Street and was easily walkable from office buildings up and down the street, and the space was beautiful, giving you the feel of a well-kept, upscale department store. Shoppers enjoyed walking from booth to booth, with a glass of wine in hand, with waiters offering small bites.
And Blue Hem at Latta Arcade ran through the end of December, with brands you’ve never heard of, but really should.
So with all this opportunity being talked about, there’s one question that I had to ask: where will all of this retail go? Uptown is crowded as it is, especially along the main corridor of Tryon.
Hemans assured me that there is space available and only more coming. Spaces include Trade and Tryon, where more than 12,000 people enter the intersection daily, Stonewall and Tryon, North Tryon and the First Ward, which is currently being developed and is centered around First Ward Park. So there will be no shortage of potential space in the next 5-10 years — retail owners just have to be willing to look for it. It’s not a short-term plan, which isn’t ideal for retailers eager to call Uptown home, but the patience will be well worth it.
Unfortunately, it’s not easy enough to move to Uptown and have automatic success as a retailer. It will take time for Charlotteans to see Uptown as a shopping destination in the city. And to start that change, businesses have to be willing to take a risk.
Those that have chosen to do so have seen a large reward. Ivy & Leo found its home in Founders Hall, which sees an average of 10,000 people walk through per day. That’s foot traffic unprecedented in other neighborhoods, and it continues to grow as Uptown does.
December was an exciting month for retail in Uptown. Three pop-ups and multiple events brightened the city and helped prove the high demand for shopping. If you missed the holiday-centered shops, I’ve been assured you don’t have to wait again until the end of the year.
If you’re a business looking for more information on retail space in Uptown or South End or a business interested in participating in future pop-up markets, please email [email protected].
(Cover photo courtesy of Charlotte Center City Partners)