The local business landscape continues to change


“When people are out, they still want that shopping experience.” said Sissy Parks, co-owner of Sweet Magnolia. / Photo by Tripp Liles

Many retailers saw 2021 as a chance to rebound from pandemic-induced losses, but instead were forced to deal with staff shortages, supply chain issues and renewed restrictions, not to mention new strains of COVID. As 2022 dawns, here’s a look at what could be in store for the Cornelius retail landscape.

RETAIL | By Tripp Liles

January 13. JLike so many other American businesses, Cornelius’ business is at a crossroads. Downtown is on the verge of a renaissance, thanks to the Cain Center for the Arts, which will open in December 2022. It will be a catalyst for mini-breweries and restaurants – most likely a hotel – but some stores traditional ones have long since disappeared.

SteinMart is a thing of the past, just like the furniture warehouse that sprung up within a year.

At the same time, stalwarts like 50-year-old independent company Ace Hardware are successfully competing with corporate giants like Lowe’s Home Improvement and Home Depot.

Personal service

Consumers today avoid brands that don’t support their new values ​​and pay more for those that do.

Smaller retailers like Sweet Magnolia at Magnolia Plaza help define Cornelius’ shopping scene.

Sweet Magnolia is a “lifestyle” store offering furniture, gifts, clothing and original artwork in a boutique setting. Owners Tracy and Sissy Parks—they’re sisters—offer unique products with a local, personal touch.

“When people walk out they still want that shopping experience. We know it’s about the customer experience and how people are treated when they walk through the door and Amazon can’t provide that” , said Sissy Parks.

“Sometimes you just need a little hug and you want to sit on the couch and talk,” she said.

Known for its personal service and hard-to-get groceries, Ferrucci’s Old Tyme Italian Market in Shops on the Green is expanding into the former Madison River Fly Fishing store that closed in June.

Market trends

Amid the pandemic, people turned to relationships and community, rethinking where, what and how they were buying.

Through their purchasing choices, today’s consumer deliberately seeks to influence their communities and the environment, and confirm how they see themselves in the world, according to Accenture, a multinational professional services company specializing in services and information technology consulting.

According to Accenture, 50% of buyers agree that the pandemic has caused them to “totally rethink” their personal purpose and what is important to them.

Additionally, people working from home are spending more money online and locally.

For small retailers/entrepreneurs, grocery store anchored retail was a good place to set up their store, perhaps smaller than it would have been in the past. According to Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis Group (CBRE), this sector is experiential, based on necessity and is less vulnerable to e-commerce competitors.

Even though Amazon and others have entered the grocery delivery arena, 84% of American adults in 2020 have never ordered groceries online. Grocery-anchored hubs remain a strong proposition, according to CBRE.

Tadd Holzen, founder of locally-based North Carolina-based Asset Specialists, said some strictly e-commerce retailers are killing it.

“For brick and mortar, I think it depends on the product, the competition, the visibility, the location, etc.,” he said.

There are very few vacancies and plenty of takers for the available space, Holzen said.

New stores continue to open. Kaleigh Basile, Marketing Director of Native Ceuticals, said the CBD store will hold a grand opening on January 20 at 19400 Jetton Road.

Village of Birkdale

Birkdale Village in Huntersville has had its share of challenges as COVID has derailed a wide variety of national retailers like Pier 1. The owners of the outdoor mall are making it more pedestrian-friendly – ​​the center roundabout will go away – and by adding at least five new, smaller tenants including Apricot Lane, Brown Bag Seafood Co., Girl Supply, Green Brothers Juice & Smoothie Co. and Lovesac, a furniture retailer, in early 2022.

Village of Birkdale

“It’s an exciting time in the retail industry. We feel very optimistic as we head into the new year and look forward to welcoming these new brands to the Village,” said Adam Schwegman, Partner and Senior Vice President of Leasing at North American Properties, owner of Birkdale.


The US Census Bureau reports that more than 4.6 million new business applications were filed in 2021 through October. Compared to pre-pandemic levels, 40% of Americans were still making an increased effort to shop small and local as businesses reopened and pandemic restrictions were eased, according to an August 2021 Harris poll.

In-store shopping continues to evolve with new technologies and innovative store concepts.

Laura Moore is opening a new custom frame shop in Kenton Place. Moore, who has over 20 years of retail experience, embraced technology to carve out a niche and modernize the process.

She uses technology to better serve my clientele and have a healthy work-life balance.

“Using simple tools such as FaceTime and Google Business allows me to offer flexible hours of operation, home appointments and one-on-one interaction not offered in a standard retail space. These tools weren’t available 20 years ago and now they’re essential to my success,” she said.


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