Unique Shopping Experiences: Concord Mills and IKEA

Unique Shopping Experiences: Concord Mills and IKEA

IKEA in Charlotte

If you’re one of those shop-till-you-drop folks, then there’s a one-two punch of retail paradise just a few miles from Charlotte. Both Concord Mills and IKEA Charlotte have their own defining characteristics that attract visitors from everywhere. But one thing is suggested – wear a comfortable pair of shoes because its takes many steps to fully experience these places.

Concord Mills

Just a sprint down the straightaway from Charlotte Motor Speedway is the expansive Concord Mills, with more than a million square feet of shopping space and much more. The climate controlled indoor mall contains over 200 stores, including manufacturer and retail outlets, off-price retailers, and unique specialty stores ranging from women’s apparel to sporting goods to jewelry. Favorites include Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH, Nike Factory Store, Banana Republic Factory Store, Ann Taylor Factory Store, the Tommy Bahama Outlet and North Carolina’s only Bass Pro Shops.

But it’s not fair to say Concord Mills is simply about shopping – it’s also an entertainment center. The mall’s design and decorative elements pay tribute to the culture, crafts and traditions of North Carolina, ranging from basketball to NASCAR to furniture and textiles.

A colorful food court with theme restaurants and a 24-screen AMC theatre are also part of the shopping adventure – not to mention a good place to take a break. A new addition to Concord Mills, scheduled to open in 2014, is a 30,000-square-foot aquarium that will feature displays of marine life as well as an ocean tank with an underwater tunnel.

IKEA Charlotte

Followers of IKEA are a passionate bunch, as witnessed by the steady stream of shoppers – many of whom have traveled long distances – flowing into the Swedish company’s only store in the Carolinas. At more than 350,000 square feet, the Charlotte store is one of the largest in the United States, and the thousands of products offer loads of inspiration for anyone trying to furnish, remodel or refurbish.

Wondering why that pillow or bookcase has an exotic-looking name on its price tag? Product names are another feature of the IKEA experience. The store’s founder, Ingvar Kamprad, is dyslexic. When he began his fledgling furniture business in the 1950s, Kamprad had trouble remembering product numbers, so instead he gave his inventory descriptive Scandinavian names. For instance, bathroom items are named after Swedish lakes. A desk chair that snaps together upon assembly is called Snille, meaning “snappy and clever” in Swedish.

Speaking of names, there is a reason the store’s name is written in capital letters – it’s an acronym. The I and K in IKEA are Ingvar Kamprad’s initials, and the E and A stand for Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd, the farm and village in Sweden where Kamprad grew up.

A defining characteristic of the IKEA concept is that many of its products require assembly after purchase. By letting shoppers handle assembly and delivery, IKEA keeps prices low. Delivery and assembly services are available at reasonable rates, but some would argue that part of the fun of the IKEA experience is the satisfaction of turning a pile of components into a beautiful, finished piece.

More Shopping

Of course, the Charlotte area also features several regional malls that contain between them just about every known retailer, as well as locally owned shops and boutiques. SouthPark is the city’s premier upscale location, while Northlake and Carolina Place meet the diverse needs of the area’s shoppers with major department stores complemented by smaller shops.

Gary Carter

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