Concord Mills is located just a few miles northeast of Charlotte off of 1-85. There are over 200 stores in this retail wonderland as well as a number of fun restaurants. It's a cross between an outlet mall and a regular mall, so you're likely to find some great bargains right next to a ripoff.
However, the sad thing to me is that this is the number one tourist destination in all of the Carolinas! There are a number of contributing factors to that statistic, including the fact that the mall is so close to Lowe's Motor Speedway, which brings in tons of visitors for the races, but still!! It's just a mall!
Cotswold Village Shops, commonly called simply Cotswold Mall, is Mark's friendly neighbourhood shopping centre. It is a strip mall with some familiar national and regional chains. Others are more upscale. For example you have Blockbuster Video, Eckerd Drug store (where I developped the first 100 exposures), Old Navy, the Atlanta Bread Company, Stein Mart, Harris-Teeter supermarket and others.
What to buy: Videos, pharmaceuticals, photo development, clothing, food and drink.
Total Wine & More has an incredible selection of wine and beer and has the best prices in town, bar none.
What to buy: Their selection of California wines is the a strongpoint, but you might want to check out some North Carolina wines. They also have wine and bar accessories as well as a great beer selection.
What to pay: Around 20% cheaper than most other wine shops in the city
In my opinion, the best mall in Charlotte in terms of quality shops is South Park. You'll find Tiffany & Co., Pottery Barn, J. Crew, Ann Taylor and many other well-known retailers along with a newly designed interior and major department store anchors such as Sears and Belk. Nordstrom is under construction and will open in March of 2004. There is a new wing that is already open that leads to the new Nordstrom and in it are some cool new stores (Gymboree, a Provence-inspired collectibles store, a Sur La Table and a few others).
What to buy: They've got it all.
Charlotte doesn't have an official Chinatown, but this shopping mall comes as close as we'll get for now. This used to be a mostly black neighborhood, but in recent years there has been an influx of Asians and Latinos and as a result this formerly abandoned mall was renovated into an an Asian themed shopping and dining paradise.
What to buy: There is an international market that has everything you could imagine to help with cooking Asian cuisines. You'll find Korean Barbecue sauces, Indian spices, Japanese noodles and Chinese serving platters. They even have an aisle dedicated to Mexican food.
Inside the mall, there are Asian owned shops featuring Asian language books, movies and music; travel agents specializing in travel to Asia, nail and hair salons in which Cantonese chatter competes with the sound of the hair dryers and a peaceful fountain in the center. There is also a Chinese restaurant that was packed with Chinese people when I peeked inside. Next time, I'll eat there and report on the food . . .
The Arboretum is a really nice strip mall. I almost hesitate to call it a strip mall, because to me, that phrase has a negative connotation. You'll find some good restaurants, a Harris Teeter grocery store, Walmart, Old Navy a great soccer shop and a place called Pasta & Provisions which sells homemade pastas at reasonable prices, to name only a few.
This photo also shows one of the unique things about the Arboretum; the pond behind the mall. It's a great place to relax and escape the crowds.
Saigon Square is a Vietnamese-dominated shopping centre on Central Avenue in the Asian section of suburban Charlotte.
What to buy: There is a tailor shop, a video store, 2 restaurants, a jeweler, a jewelry repair shop, an alcoholic beverage store and a school where they teach you how to accentuate women's fingernails.
Harris-Teeter is a regional grocery store chain headquartered near Charlotte. Mark does most of his grocery shopping, with the exception of specialty international ingredients, at this store located at Cotswold Mall.
What to buy: Anything that won't eat you first.
What to pay: It's reasonably priced.
Midwood Corners is a strip mall not too far from where Mark lives.
What to buy: Mark bought a book on photography (which he strongly suggested I read closely) at Book Buyer's Used Books (a $30 value, I'm guessing) for $5. Hey, as long as it's used, but not abused.
What to pay: Given its location, you will leave with a lot more green in your wallet than you will from Southpark.
Trade shows of all kinds come to the Merchandise Mart. One week it might be antiques, the next week it might be jewelry. You just never know. Over a million visitors come through this place every year. Check the website for the event schedule.
This store on East Blvd. is right next to a Thai restaurant and is full of cool and mostly impractical things. It's the kind of store that you can spend a half hour to an hour browsing and then decide that it's really not worth paying THAT much for a really cool scented candle. So how do they stay in business you ask? Well, they're located on East Blvd. in an upscale area where people have everything they need and shop for the strangest things.
What to buy: Cool books, stationery, photo albums, office supplies, furniture, etc.
What to pay: Too much, but if you shop here, you don't care!
This place is a fun place for those of us who love to travel (okay, that's all of us on this site!). They've got maps of all kinds. Globes, wall maps, desk maps, GPS systerms, etc., etc., etc.
Check out their website for online ordering info.
The Fresh Market is a Greensboro, NC-based chain of upscale, but not too expensive, grocery stores. The atmosphere is warm with wooden accents and a small, easily navigable store.
What to buy: The meats, fruits, and vegetables are among the freshest in town and the variety of cheeses, breads and desserts is also impressive.
What to pay: Only slightly more than Harris Teeter, the city's most popular grocery chain.
If you need some quality photo equipment, advice or developing this is the place to go. Sure, there are cheaper places in town, but no one does a better job and will treat you as well as the guys at Camera World. The place has been around for 35 years and they are unsurpassed in terms of knowledge and friendliness. Ask for George.
What to buy: Cameras, Tripods, film, etc.
What to pay: The prices are about average, although the film developing is more expensive than average. However, you get what you pay for.
Phillips Place is a strip of shops near South Park Mall on Fairview Road in South Charlotte. It's only about five minutes from my house, so I usually go to the movies here, but I don't do much shopping here. I'm a little too frugal (okay, cheap!) for that. You'll also find some of the better restaurants in the area here, including the Palm, P.F. Chang's and Upstream.
What to buy: Restoration Hardware is a cool store full of upscale hardware items, furniture and many other items. There are also some fancy boutiques here and a Dean and Deluca for all your gourmet needs.
What to pay: Too much