We may not be Charlotte natives, but we have all lived in the Queen City (or in surrounding areas) long enough to find some local shops and places we particularly enjoy. We challenge you to ditch those big chains and discover some of the local gems around you, like these:
One thing I love to do on the weekends is go treasure hunting. While it may not involve sunken ships or gold buried in the desert, there are plenty of places around Charlotte to go hunting. If you’ve lived in Charlotte for any amount of time, I’m sure you’ve heard of Sleepy Poet Antique Mall. It’s probably the most popular store of its kind in the area and for good reason. You can spend a full day in there uncovering a litany of gems from the smallest teapot to a vintage record player. The possibilities are truly endless.
If you’re looking for other stores in the area that are similar Village Emporium, or The Depot up in Concord. Village Emporium is a little smaller but there’s great treasure to be found, and The Depot rivals Sleepy Poet in size and treasure.
I fare pretty well in the office when it comes to music trivia. So it’s no surprise, my favorite local businesses in Charlotte are local record stores Lunchbox Records and Repo Records. Over the last several years, I’ve increased my vinyl collection to the point that I’m on my 3rd shelf for storing. I’ll save my DIY Record Shelf for another post. When hunting for vinyl, I’m a bit of a picky guy, I’ll admit it. I scoff at reissues and consider first pressings “The Real Deal.” I have numerous copies, all different pressings, of certain records and I’m always looking for something rare or original. If you’re a local you may remember Repo Records from years ago and their shop over on Central Avenue & Morningside. They’ve since reopened at a new location at the end of Commonwealth Avenue. They have some serious gems in their vinyl dollar bins! The Outfield’s Play Deep was my latest get, and their choices of classic rock, bluegrass, and miscellaneous records far exceed in size and quality any other shop in town. Lunchbox Records has become a staple in the Plaza-Midwood neighborhood and it may be the only place you find can an “experimental” section (my favorite genre) in this town. The staff is always friendly, helpful, and unobtrusive. Aside from their constantly rotating New Arrivals section, they have an ever-growing variety of new and used tapes and CDs. They typically have something for everyone.
Lastly, a shameless plug for the one I love. My wife just opened a vintage shop, which is by far my favorite in all the land. Check out BoutiQuity for the quality you remember.
Warm Mug = Warm Heart
My professional and personal lives tend to blend together. I work with my husband and my brother-in-law every day. When my kids aren’t in school, they come with me to the office, or I’ll respond to emails while they’re playing at the YMCA. So it comes as no surprise to me that some of my favorite local places take on a duplicitous role in my life as well. I wouldn’t say I’m anti-Starbucks, but my preference has always been the local coffee shop. I loved them when I lived in NY, when I lived out west, and I love them now. Charlotte has several from which to choose, but I want to give a shout out to my personal faves.
For a long time the parking in this area was nothing short of a nightmare. It almost kept me away. Almost. I’m happy to report that the infamous parking dispute has come to an amicable close and there is ample parking for all. I love this place. The tea selection, the quality of the coffee, the vibe: I love all of it. You have a great staff in all their eclectic glory, but they lack all the snobbery and pretension that can come with a joint of this caliber. They usually remember my name or what I usually drink. I’m not there every day, either. They’re just very observant. The menu is awesome and I just can’t say enough. If you live or work in Ballantyne or the surrounding areas, don’t miss this spot. This is one of my favorites for meeting clients or colleagues.
Tucked away in the corner of this shopping center is an artistic little gem with strong Wi-Fi, strong coffee, and an approachable down-to-earth staff. Local businesses that support local businesses/artists are all good in my book. This is another great spot that works well for meeting clients or colleagues. They have ample table space and the parking is great. They offer a good beer/wine selection, art for purchase on the spot, and menu of delicious sweet treats.
The décor in this place is worth a visit, even if you don’t eat pastries (a life without pastries is a sad life). It’s funky, whimsical, fun; every corner and surface has a story. One visit simply will not suffice. The staff offers the right blend of knowledge and smiling faces; they bring the funk as well, ya dig? This is all a set-up, though; props for a grand showcase; a stage for the true stars of the show; the pastries. The Salted Caramel Brownie and the French Macaroons are show stopping. They are melt-in-your-mouth, stop-you-in-your-tracks awesome. Truly. This place is clearly an inspired endeavor. A lot of my down time is spent writing. I enjoy poetry, prose, random ramblings and the like. This is my favorite place to write and eat pastries, hands down.
Little Otter Swim School
As a parent, the summer can get a little scary if your kids don’t know how to swim. What should be a relaxed backyard cookout quickly turns into a stressful game of “keep the kid away from the pool.” That’s the situation we found ourselves in when we moved to Charlotte with our then 2-year-old son. We took Jake to a few places for swimming lesson but none of them “took” until we brought him to the Little Otter Swim School.
At Little Otter, they do things a little differently. The whole place is set up to deliver kids’ swimming lessons. From the small group classes to the heated indoor pool to the sibling play area, Little Otter has children’s swimming lessons down to a science. And after trying three other places with no success, Jake quickly rose through the ranks at Little Otter and now he dominates the Y pool all summer with a green band – meaning he can go anywhere, even the big slides, on his own.
Good Beers, Great People
I’m sure it comes as no surprise but we here at GoBeyond enjoy us some cold beverages. My personal favorite place to quench my thirst is at Good Bottle Co. on Remount Road in South End. The guys over at Good Bottle are masters of their craft and seem to enjoy few things more than having quality conversations with patrons and pointing them in the direction of good, new beers.
Chris, the owner, takes care of everyone with almost daily specials and events. My favorite is the Good Morning breakfast, held once a month on a Saturday at 9 am. It may seem crazy to drink that early but the way these guys pair different beers and breakfasts together, it makes it seem like you’re having a cup of coffee, which is also available.
Follow Good Bottle on Instagram @goodbottleco and pop your head in there and let them open your mind to some new and interesting beers. I promise you’ll keep going back.
Page 6 Boutique
Living in Baxter Village in Fort Mill, I feel rather lucky to be within walking distance of some amazing local stores. One of my absolute favorite places to stop in and peruse is Page 6 Boutique. This adorable women’s boutique offers adorable shirts, dresses, tanks, shorts, shoes, accessories and more that ladies ranging from 12 to 52 are sure to love to wear. I am particularly fond of their Piko tops. I personally own over five of these (both long and short sleeve styles) and they are great go-to items. You can 100% count on Page 6 to have the latest styles and trends that you’re looking for.
Make sure you follow Page 6 Boutique on Instagram for the new arrivals, deals and fashion inspiration you’ll love!
Grapevine Wine Shop | Wine Bar
This is another Baxter Village gem that I love to frequent. Not only does this local wine bar have delicious options for vino lovers, it also has local craft beer that my taste buds enjoy (a lot)! Whether you want to shop for savory wines and tasty craft beers or enjoy your drinks at the bar or outside on the patio, the grapevine is a must-visit place just south of the Queen City. Also, did I mention they have a plethora of events? From wine tastings to run club to beer festivals, they are sure to have one for you!
Speaking of beer festivals – the grapevine hosts one of my all-time favorite events every March, called Beertopia. This day-drinking event costs about $40 for 4 hours of unlimited drinking from Carolina craft beers and ciders. Needless to say, it’s awesome and you’re very welcome for sharing this awesome utopia of beer with you.
We hope we’ve helped encourage you to get out and explore these awesome Charlotte spots! Did we miss your favorite local hangout? Feel free to share it with us on Twitter!