Eastland Mall was at one time Charlotte's premier enclosed shopping centres much the way Regency Square was in Richmond. While its more upmarket clientele have frequented the more uppity South Park Mall, reports of Eastland's demise are very much exaggerated. It has 3 on 4 of its anchor stores- Belk, Sears, and Dillard's remain. Different from the more upscale Southpark Mall with Sur La Table and Cheesecake Factory, etc., here you will find stores like Lim's, Payless Shoes, etc.
What to buy: There are 117 stores here so there is plenty from which to choose.
What to pay: All price ranges are represented here, though not quite as upscale as South Park Mall.
Bombay Bazaar is one of many ethnic stores in Charlotte. My friend Mark likes to cook Indian cuisine every now and again. I personally get on better at Latin American markets because I love to cook that style of food (which is ironically my specialty).
What to buy: As Mark says, you can buy "a bunch of stuff that b1bob's never heard of" here: things like, asoefatida, tumeric, fresh cardamom, garam masala, some chai (tea) and a few other Indian whatnots.
Like Morrocroft, Ballantyne Commons East is an upscale strip mall with some chains that are found everywhere (such as Eckerd, Harris-Teeter, The U.P.S. Store, and Blockbuster) but it primarily offers stores befitting the affluent area like Providence Bistro, Port City Java, Zapata's, McAlister's Gourmet Deli, Wolf Camera, Cubbyhole, Wise Guy's Restaurant, and the Fox & Hound English Pub. There is also a YMCA, something not often found at a strip mall.
What to buy: You can buy groceries, pharmaceuticals, toiletries, coffee of any style, rent movies, work out, eat out and buy all manner of whatnots here.
What to pay: Many of the stores lean decisively to the upmarket.
Located in the ritzy Ballantyne area of south Charlotte just past Piper Glen and I-485 on Rea Road, you'll find this expansive strip mall. There is a Harris Teeter grocery store, a larger multiplex cinema (Regal Cinema), a Target, and numerous specialty stores. There's a great toy store here where I've purchased gifts for my nephew. You'll also find some interesting restaurants here including Miro, my favorite local Spanish place.
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 . . .
Southpark Mall features over 100 specialty stores.
What to buy: This mall appears to lean more to the fashion centre, but just about anything upmarket can be bought here.
UPDATE: I will no longer buy anything at this mall or any other by the same management (Simon Group) because another mall under their umbrella evicted a tenant based on the content of his store and applied this standard only to this vendor. If you're interested, write me an e-mail for more details.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Concord Mills is the newest mall in the Charlotte area. It opened in 1999. It claims to be an outlet mall, but there are a lot of normal stores too. This mall is very crowded around race time, because it's located very close to Lowe's Motor Speedway. Also, this mall is very long!!! It takes a while to get around it.
If you have kids, there is a big freshwater fish aquarium in Bass Pro Shops. I love to take my son here, he loves to watch the "fishies." :-) Also, there's a Jeepers! that is great for birthday parties, and it has a roller coaster and a lot of little kiddy rides in it. There's a new "speedpark" with go carts and putt-putt, and there's a carousel in the food court.
AND also, there's a Jillian's here. Jillian's has bowling, pool tables, arcades, and a dance club. AND there's an AMC movie theatre with stadium seating and 22 theatres. There are tons of normal stores and a Starbucks and ice cream places inside the mall.
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.
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.
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!