Charlotte’s small businesses are finding new life on Monroe Road

Trisha Tam says the area is welcoming businesses that have been forced out of other parts of the city for two important reasons.

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina. Rising rents and property flipping are forcing local businesses out of the buildings. Plaza Midwood’s beloved Soul Gastrolounge will close for the weekend.

This is becoming a trend for many small businesses in the region. Soul Gastrolounge announced last month that it was closing up shop. The owners were told their building would be put up for sale and the rent would increase by 114%.

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But now some businesses are finding a new home in another part of the city.

on Bohemian Stylehouse Hair Salon prides itself on being inclusive and sustainable.

“Everyone is welcome here,” co-owner and stylist of Bohemian Stylehouse Candice Stamper said. “Small business is very important to communities because many families depend on it for income.”

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In 2020, that profit was on the line after a major real estate investor bought a barbershop building in Plaza Midwood and sought to raise the rent by at least 100%.

“I thought we didn’t know how we were going to keep our doors open,” Stamper said. – Because it is unrealistic to double your rent.”

They were kicked out of Plaza Midwood, but moved smoothly to a new location on Monroe Road.

“We’ve really seen the rebirth of Monroe Road,” Tricia Tam, communications and strategy advisor for Monroe Road Advocates, said.

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The vacant property is now full of new business. Tam says the area is hosting businesses that have been forced out of other parts of the city for two important reasons.

“Affordability was one of the driving factors, as well as having this eclectic, diverse group of people living here,” Tam said.

Several businesses from Plaza Midwood and NoDa have relocated to the Monroe Road corridor, for example NoDa Yoga, Stash Pad and MoveStudio.

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As with Soul Gastrolounge, rent increases made it impossible to stay in place.

“The heart of Plaza Midwood was small business,” Stamper said. “It’s heartbreaking for us, honestly.”

Now there is hope that Monroe Road will become a place where everyone is welcome.

“It’s really nice that everybody is kind of changing and moving in that way, because it just recreates this small business community,” Stamper said.

Soul Gastrolounge is closed on Sundays. The goal is to move and open, but those plans are not yet finalized. Sister, an all-day European bistro just below, has also just closed its doors after being open for just six months.

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WCNC Charlotte is part of seven major media companies and other local institutions producing I Can’t Afford to Live Here, a collaborative reporting project aimed at addressing Charlotte’s affordable housing crisis. It is a project of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative supported by the Local Media Project, an initiative launched by the Solutions Journalism Network with support from the Knight Foundation to strengthen and restore local media ecosystems. See all our reports at charlottejournalism.org.

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