5 BUSINESSES YOU DIDN’T KNOW WERE STARTED IN CHARLOTTE AT SPECIALTY SHOPS SOUTHPARK BY CHARLOTTE OBSERVER

5 Charlotte-started businesses you can find at Specialty Shops SouthPark

By Alicia Thomas

Specialty Shops SouthPark has been a local staple for a sophisticated and refined shopping experience in Charlotte since 1979.

The privately-owned boutiques, national retailers and acclaimed restaurants at Specialty Shops SouthPark offer a Palm Beach, Worth Avenue-inspired atmosphere, providing an intimate shopping and dining experience in this upscale community.

Since Specialty Shops SouthPark has been around for nearly 40 years, it should come as no surprise that many of the businesses you’ll find there were started right here in Charlotte. Read on to find out which retailers were born right here in the Queen City (and what you can find at each one of them).

Amina Rubinacci

aminarubinaccinc.com. 704-817-9247.

Open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Sundays. Contact by phone to schedule a private appointment outside of these hours.

Amina Rubinacci Charlotte opened its doors at Specialty Shops SouthPark in September 2012—but it was not owner Jeannie DeMarco’s first time owning and operating a business at this location. As a matter of fact, she opened her very first business at Specialty Shops back in 1979.

“It felt comfortable coming back,” DeMarco said. “The proximity to SouthPark Mall and the great selection of restaurants nearby were also deciding factors.”

DeMarco opened Amina Rubinacci Charlotte alongside her daughter and business partner, Stuart Yochern. For six years, the mother-daughter duo has offered the Charlotte community a full line of Italian clothing as well as shoes, handbags, wallets, belts, and so many more accessories that pair well with the Amina collection.

“We continue to be inspired to offer clothing and accessories that will remain in your wardrobe for many seasons,” DeMarco said. “We are very dedicated to customer service, and we try our very best to keep our customers in mind when we are buying.”

Bedside Manor

bedsidemanor.com. 704-442-4006.

Open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Over the past 24 years, the staff at Bedside Manor has become the sleep experts of Charlotte. Offering bed linens, down products, towels, unique gifts, and more, Bedside Manor has mastered the art of helping customers get the perfect night’s sleep.

It all started with owner Laura Fitch. “I grew up with a mom who adored table and bed linens,” Fitch explained. “Being exposed to this at a young age started my passion for fine linens, as well.”

At Bedside Manor, Fitch and her staff offer a wide range of products to fit anyone’s budget. The staff at this staple SouthPark shop are trained on all aspects of textiles and materials, from color to chemistry and beyond, to help guests find the perfect products for their home.

Fitch opened Bedside Manor at Specialty Shops SouthPark primarily due to its convenient location and proximity to everything, but the size and vibe of Specialty Shops were also just right. “We love the European feel and small town charm,” she said.

Whether you’re searching for fine Italian linens, the softest cotton towels, or a special candle with a scent that smells like home, Bedside Manor can help you find it.

Elizabeth Bruns Jewelers, Inc.

elizabethbruns.com. 704-365-3700.

Open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed Sundays.

Elizabeth Bruns originally opened her namesake jewelry store on Providence Road in 1957. The store’s current owner, Wilson Glasgow, purchased the store in 1976—and just three years later, the store opened its doors in Specialty Shops SouthPark in 1979.

“Specialty Shops was being developed by the Bissell-Harris family, and I knew it would be a wonderful opportunity,” said Glasgow. “I haven’t been proven wrong. I feel there’s no better location for us anywhere in the Carolinas.” In fact, Elizabeth Bruns Jewelry is the last original tenant that has remained in Specialty Shops since 1979.

In the nearly 40 years since, Glasgow has expanded the business to specialize in 18 karat gold, platinum, and diamond jewelry from the top artisans around the globe, along with china, crystal, and silver accessories for the home.

“We have not wavered from our desire to offer only the finest available,” said Glasgow.

ivy & leo

ivyandleo.com. 704-525-0000.

Open Monday through Wednesday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Named after the owners’ beloved rescue dogs, Ivy and Leo, the Charlotte shop ivy & leo was founded in 2009 to bring Charlotte women cute, chic, trendy clothes at a fraction of the cost of other area boutiques.

“We search from coast to coast to find the latest styles in the fashion industry,” said Megan Fletcher, a buyer at ivy & leo SouthPark. “You can count on us to have the most up-to-date and trendy styles available at an affordable price.” She’s not kidding—the shop receives nearly 100 new styles each week.

ivy & leo’s owners were born and raised in Charlotte, and they’ve lived here their whole lives. The shop’s first location was in the Founders Hall building in Uptown Charlotte, but there are now seven additional ivy & leo locations to choose from in the Carolinas: SouthPark, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Raleigh, Waverly, Myrtle Beach and Columbia. The owners are also preparing to open their newest ivy & leo location in Chapel Hill.

“We knew the SouthPark area was already a shopping destination. We knew bringing a unique, affordable boutique to this area would instantly be a success,” said Fletcher. “Specialty Shops SouthPark was the perfect location to open our store because of the mix in outdoor shopping and dining.”

Sharon Luggage

sharonluggage.com. 704-366-7013.

Open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

For more than 40 years, Sharon Luggage has offered the best in travel luggage and accessories to the Charlotte community.

“My father and his brother started the business in Charlotte in 1970, right after SouthPark Mall opened,” explained the store’s owner, Paul Steiger. “They believed that Charlotte needed a luggage store.”

Steiger came to work for Sharon Luggage in 1974 after graduating from UNC Chapel Hill. In 2011, Sharon Luggage opened its newest location at Specialty Shops SouthPark. “We think it is a great location, and more convenient to our customers than having to go inside of a mall,” he said.

Sharon Luggage offers the largest selection of luggage in the Charlotte market, including brands like Briggs & Riley, Tumi Victorinox, TravelPro and more. Sharon Luggage also has a 20,000 sq. ft. distribution center just 10 minutes away on Arrowood Road—a facility which also houses their repair facility, which is the only luggage repair center in North Carolina.

Visit Specialty Shops SouthPark today

Whether you want to indulge in delicious pastries, pamper yourself with luxury salon services, or go on a shopping spree, Specialty Shops SouthPark offers an exceptional experience every time.

To learn more about these and all the shops and restaurants at this upscale specialty center, or to learn more about opening a business here, visit specialtyshopssouthpark.com.

*This article was done in partnership with Charlotte Observer.