Local entrepreneur and Co-Founder of Girl Tribe Co. Sarah Baucom recently reached out to the Girl Tribe Community Facebook group with a thoughtful inquiry:
“Curious…what businesses do you feel like we are missing in Charlotte?”
“I asked the question in our groups because I was genuinely curious what others have seen in other cities but have yet to see here in Charlotte,” Baucom said. “As a native, I have seen this city grow so much and I wanted to see if there was a trend that we have yet to see pop up here in the city.”
The post garnered more than 600 responses from local women sharing their thoughts on what Charlotte lacks. Entertainment, food and kid-friendly activities topped the list.
“The women in the group are extremely engaged and I love hearing their unique perspectives every day. I also thought it would be fun to see someone take off with an idea and start one of these suggested businesses,” Baucom said.
“I would love to see more brick and mortar retail from experimental brands. And I would really love to see more large property managers allowing smaller leases so that small businesses could test out first-floor retail,” Baucom said.
We asked a few of the women who posted responses about which type of businesses they think Charlotte’s missing and why:
(1) Ethnic/family owned restaurants
“More ethic family owned / restaurants.” — Fareeda S. Moiyadi
“Living in Charlotte for 8 years now and seeing it rapidly change and grow, one of the things it lacks is more ethnic, family owned restaurants,” Moiyadi said.
“One of the best features of an ethnic family owned restaurant is you get to truly experience the cuisine and culture of the country. It allows patrons to step outside their norm and experience flavors and food that they may not have tried before.”
“As Charlotte continues to grow and more people from other cultures and backgrounds move here, it’s important that we allow more opportunities for family businesses to open. And as consumers, we should support smaller, local restaurants whose livelihood depends on us — and also, embrace diversity in our community.”
(2) Gym options that are ‘normal’
“More gym options that are just normal gyms besides the Dowd Y and aren’t trends you have to subscribe to (CrossFit, Orange Theory, MADabolic, etc.). More things like a Lifetime, Planet Fitness, Xsport. Various price and levels in the uptown/south end/immediate areas. It’s either the Y or a fitness trend.” — Amber Lynne Kari
“Fitness is not a one size fits all. Some people need the structure and accountability of the classes offered by subscription-based boutique gyms. But this the majority of the gyms that serve Charlotte,” Kari said. “If you don’t belong to one of these gyms, the only other option is the Y, which is jam packed at all times and doesn’t always allow for an efficient workout because there are no other cost-effective options in the immediate Charlotte area.”
“For someone like me that exercises 6 days a week, I don’t want to be constantly confined by a class schedule or an overcrowded gym. Some like Class Pass as a way to gain variety, but even that has limitations.”
“So with Charlotte’s population exploding and the demographics changing, I would think there would be a desire to cater to every level of fitness and income.”
(3) Kid-centered restaurants
“A really cool kid-based restaurant like Rainforest Cafe! We need something like that where it’s just sooo different than any other place in Charlotte that kids beg to go to. We have nothing like that!” — Bucleigh Newton Kernodle
“There are restaurants throughout the Charlotte area that are family friendly, but there is nothing here that specifically made for kids that parents enjoy as well. Red Robin is yummy but there isn’t anything that gets kids excited about going there. Chuck E Cheese is not a place parents EVER want to go for dinner, but kids beg to go. We need the best of both worlds to make all ages happy,” Kernodle said.
“I’ve lived in Charlotte my whole life. The only restaurant I remember begging my parents to go to was in the S. Tryon location of Embassy Suites called McGee’s. The wait staff dressed up in different costumes each week, such as Dorothy Gale or The Mad Hatter and their salad bar was a huge claw-footed bath tub. We actually went to birthday parties there in the late 80s and early 90s! But that was it.”
(4) Gluten free / allergen free bakery
“Did no one say a GLUTEN FREE VEGAN ALLERGEN FREE bakery?!?! I think I scrolled all the way through each post and comment. I’m dying over here. There is nowhere for me to eat or get a damn treat in this city… I’m a CLT native and ready to move for this reason alone.” — Rachel Deese
“Charlotte is severely lacking in allergen friendly restaurants and there is no allergen free bakery. As someone with Celiac Disease, I seldom — if ever — get to eat out and unfortunately have come to terms with that, but I hate not having a place to buy a cake or bread or small treats for myself or my son who also has food allergies. I love to bake, but it’s simply impossible to bake a cookie or small treat for each occasion that warrants one,” Deese said.
“As big of a city as Charlotte has become and as many new bars, restaurants and breweries we have popping up I’m still at a loss for a place to find gluten free & vegan baked goods. I’ve visited New York, Philadelphia and Portland, OR, all which have wonderful, established gluten free/vegan bakeries; Babycakes NYC, Sweet Freedom & Petunia’s respectively. If anyone out there wants to help build this business I would be first in line as a creative consultant and taste tester, as well as a recipe contributor.”
(5) Indoor play areas
“Centrally located indoor play structures for kids.” — Kristan Adkins
“Between pollen bombs, endless rain, scorching heat and cold weather, it seems like there are about 4 weeks a year where it is comfortable to play outside for long stretches of time. My kid is super active so we go all over town in search of kid friendly physically based activities on days when it’s not possible to play outside,” Adkins said.
“The activities nearby require memberships and have assigned times or are museum based — a good way to kill time but not energy.”
“There are great activities available but they are far away from center city and often only last an hour. Given our horrific and unpredictable traffic and my son’s mood (toddlers!) sometimes that only leaves 20-30 minutes to play. It would be great if there were centrally located indoors play spaces/play structures without time restrictions.”
“Types of activities [should include] ball/foam pits, merry go round, climbing structures, bounce house, basketball, tunnels, slides, trampolines, obstacle courses etc.”
(6) Eco-friendly grocery stores
“Package free/eco friendly grocery stores! Or just more eco-friendly stores in general!” — Lindsay Kappius
“I believe we need more eco-friendly stores and grocery stores because without accessibility, being eco-friendly is a challenge. Large grocery stores wrap almost all products in unnecessary and difficult-to-recycle packaging. Without alternatives, consumers are forced to purchase and discard the single-use packaging.”
“Many stores cater to the convenience of consumers’ on-the-go behavior. Plastic bags, plastic utensils, plastic cups, plastic water bottles and plastic straws are all items we mindlessly use daily. When a store offers eco-friendly alternatives, it starts a conversation which slowly creates an impact.”
(7) Wegmans and Wawa
“WEGMANS AND WAWA! Signed, a very spoiled Yankee.” — Amanda White
“Charlotte needs a Wegmans. It kind of surprises me that there isn’t one here already, given the sheer number of transplants from the North. Wegmans is an experience and a store that’s so different than any other. It taps into a market that Whole Foods priced itself out of. Wegmans provides a large variety of food at their hot bar. It appeals to the masses because I could be craving pizza and sushi and I can get both, in one place, at a decent price,” White said.
“When my husband and I lived in the DC area, we would drive 45 minutes to Wegmans because we were that loyal and impressed. We even met friends there for lunch a few times because we knew, it worked for everyone. I was even newly pregnant at the time so I can fully attest to the even the cleanliness of the restrooms.”
“It’s truly a unique experience that Charlotte is missing.”
Which businesses do you think are missing in Charlotte? Let us know in the comments.
Editor’s note: Responses have been edited for brevity, clarity and length.