There is nothing like SoHo, Rodeo Drive, or the Magnificent Mile here; the shopping districts in Charlotte are smaller than those in other major cities and far more sprawling.
Even though these areas are considered “shopping districts” by Charlotte standards, it’s often impossible to walk from one store to the next. In fact, the shopping districts here—and the city in general—are among the least pedestrian-friendly compared to other cities of this size, and it’s sometimes necessary to jump in the car to go from one boutique to the next.
Uptown is home to the largest concentration of hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, and cultural and historic attractions in all of Charlotte, but it hasn’t been known as a shopping district—until now. You won’t find the Gap, BCBG, or Borders here; the shops in Uptown are independent boutiques, not megachains. Even the minimalls—Founders Hall and Latta Plantation—bear little resemblance to traditional malls.
Instead, the collection of stores is smaller and the retailers are all local. The offerings range from designer clothing and one-of-a-kind gifts to books. As a shopping district, Uptown is still growing. Most of the shops are in Founders Hall and the EpiCentre; as new mixed-use developments continue to be added to the skyline, more retailers continue to move to the neighborhood.
Once the site of numerous textile mills, South End has come into its own as a design district. It’s the place to find furnishings, fabric, lighting, and accessories (with a few clothing retailers tucked in among the überchic home decor shops for good measure). The selections are varied and tend to be more expensive than other furniture and accessories shops in Charlotte. You’re paying for quality; the pieces you’ll find in the South End are meant to last.
Since there are no national retailers in the area, the collections are often one-of-a-kind or custom-order pieces. The district occupies a stretch of South Boulevard and spills out into the side streets. In addition to home decor and design boutiques, South End is also home to numerous art galleries and hosts a gallery crawl on the first Friday of every month.
Dilworth is arguably the most developed shopping district in Charlotte. Most of the shops are clustered along East Boulevard between South Boulevard and Scott Street. The bevy of adorable dresses, handmade jewelry, colorful handbags, and luxurious spa products makes Dilworth the best place in Charlotte for a girls’ day of shopping and pampering. The location is as pretty as the boutiques, most of which are in renovated houses nestled alongside historic homes on tree-lined streets.
After a quick look at the number of galleries lining the streets of the historic NoDa neighborhood, it isn’t hard to guess that you’re in the arts district. Dubbed NoDa for its location on North Davidson Street, the small but thriving arts district is home to the greatest concentration of creative businesses in all of Charlotte. It’s also the most walkable neighborhood in the city.
The art galleries are located around the intersection of North Davidson Street and East 36th Avenue and range from stark spaces with small contemporary art installations to colorful shops stocked with all manner of handmade goods. Besides the art galleries there are few shops in NoDa, but there are great restaurants and a vibrant live-music scene that make NoDa worth a visit even if you’re not into art.
The best time to shop for art is during Gallery Crawls, which take place on the first and third Fridays of the months when most stores are open until 9 p.m. or later.
As one of the oldest neighborhoods in Charlotte, Myers Park is more of a residential enclave than a shopping district. While the neighborhood will always be known best for its stately homes and tree-lined boulevards, it’s also home to several independent retailers that have been serving the neighborhood for decades.
The shops in Myers Park are like the homes—expensive. Anything with a higher-than-average price tag can be found here, from wooden toys and luxury bedding to spa products. Since it was designed as a suburb for wealthy automobile owners, getting from one shop to another requires a bit of a drive. Start at the Park Road Shopping Center; it’s one of the oldest shopping centers in the city and still retains its 1950s design.
If you have a penchant for designer clothes and a budget (or credit card) that can support your shopping habits, South Park is the place to be. The selection of high-end shops is unparalleled, with unique boutiques and luxury retailers scattered throughout the neighborhood. Forget walking from one boutique to the next, however, as you might in Los Angeles or New York.
In South Park, the shopping district is clustered in two main areas: SouthPark Mall and Phillips Place—large retail centers that house numerous stores. Here, you’ll find all of the fashion staples from the Gap, J. Crew, and Ann Taylor to Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Macy’s. The neighborhood is also home to a number of local retailers that stock luxury national and international brands.
© Jodi Helmer from Moon Charlotte, 1st Edition