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Happiness

*** Relocating from Italy ***

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After surfing a lot the web, I've finally found a forum about Charlotte, NC.

I'm writing to have some useful suggestion about this city from who lives here.

I've already carefully read the Business relocation package and the Newcomer relocation package gently sent to me by the Chamber of Commerce and a lot of pages from different sources.

My mad, but very strongly supported, idea is to relocate with my wife and two wonderful children (6 and 7 yrs), invest a certain amount of money by opening an Italian Specialty Shop (not food, don't worry !) and start a new life.

I'd like to know something more about crime rate (it seems high !), weather and whatever you consider important to know for an italian coming here.

Every suggestion will be very appreciated. Please feel free.

Sincerely, Donato.

:)

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Hi Donato,

Thankyou for coming to UrbanPlanet to ask your questions.

Charlotte/Mecklenburg county is a great place to locate. We have it all here from Urban to Suburban living and there is still countryside should you decide to live in a rural setting.

Crime is a problem most US Cities and Charlotte does have it's share. However is confined to a very small portion of Charlotte and mostly related to the illegal drug trade. If you stay away from this, you will be fine. I have lived in this county for more than 30 years and feel very safe here. I've never experienced any crime myself and have only personally met a couple of people who have. It should also be noted the violent crime rate has been dropping here since 1993.

The weather in Charlotte is great. We experience all 4 seasons (winter, summer, spring & fall) none of which are really extreme. We may see a little snow in the winter and during the summer July & August can be fairly hot for several weeks (~38C-40C at times) with high humidity. It is already spring here and many flowers and trees are starting to come out.

An Italian Speciality Shop should do very well here. There is a lot of disposible income in the area and the interest in quality European goods is very high.

I hope this answers some of your questions. Please feel free to ask anything you like about the area. There are a number of very knowledgeable forumers here who know a great deal about the city and the area.

And most of all, welcome to UrbanPlanet and hopefully soon to Charlotte!

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Hi Donato,

Crime is a problem most US Cities and Charlotte does have it's share.  However is confined to a very small portion of Charlotte and mostly related to the illegal drug trade.  If you stay away from this, you will be fine. 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Wow, such a fast reply !!!

Sorry, which is the "small portion" to stay away from ?

My compliments for the FORUM (which is an old Latin word ...)

Bye, bye.

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Wow, such a fast reply !!!

Sorry, which is the "small portion" to stay away from ?

My compliments for the FORUM (wich is an old Latin word ...)

Bye, bye.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

what he means is that most crime in the US is related to drugs. if you don't use drugs, sell drugs, or have drug dealers in your neighborhood, you will probably never ever be a victim of crime.

the high murder rate in the US is almost entirely 1) drug dealers killing each other and 2) people killing their spouses in domestic disputes.

in fact, if you are coming from a large city, you will probably feel much safer in the US than in a large italian city. we have a much much lower rate of crimes like burglary, robbery, vandalism, etc.

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I'll agree with what has been said about the crime.......random violent crime is VERY rare here. I've lived in a fairly rural area, a suburban area, and now in an urban area, and have never felt like I might be a victim here.

There is not a very close-knit Italian community here that you may find in northeastern cities, such as Boston, NYC or Philadelphia, but most people here are very open and accepting. Also, the Catholic population of Charlotte is relatively small. However there are several Catholic churches in Charlotte that have active congregations.

The weather is great here. It never gets to 40C....the highest might be 37C, but typical is around 32C in the summer.

The city is quickly growing and urbanizing. It's an exciting time to be here, even for those of us who have lived here most of our lives. Most people I know who have moved from a European city love it, but they all have one complaint. Currently, it is very hard to live here without a car. The city is getting light-rail trains, and streetcars, and adding more buses, so in a few years, transportation will be easier.

If you have any other questions, let us know. The forumers here are very helpful.

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What type of Italian Specialties? You say it won't be food, but that's my favorite Italian specialty!

I agree with monsoon's comment, it sounds like a promising enterprise. There has been talk of the desire for an increasing number of "authentic" internationally-oriented businesses, which seem to be very well supported in Charlotte.

Here in Charlotte we have short, moderate winters, and easy access to a lot of great experiences: skiing in the mountains, the excellent North Carolina beaches, boating on the lakes, great universities, very well supported cultural activities and a positive view of new ventures, quality growth and development.

I don't think crime is any more of an issue here than it is in nearly any other city. I used to get nervous when traveling in Europe because of the warnings about pickpockets. I used to think they were everywhere, and just waiting to get me. But I've found that if you're at all savvy about your personal surroundings, you really don't have to worry. Same thing here.

Have you traveled much in the U.S.? I would say that for as much as Charlotte continues to grow and become a more world-class city, it is a very different experience than living in Europe. Charlotte is a great city in which to live, have a business and raise a family; but you would notice some big differences in comparison to Milan, which may or may not be important to you. Two that come to mind in terms of the experience of living here are first, we're somewhat light on the sense of history and common culture that binds a community together. And, because most people you'll meet in Charlotte are not from here, but have moved from elsewhere, we lack that sense of generational longevity and so, are limited in our sense of extended family and connectivity. There are certainly exceptions, and there are many families who have lived here for generations, but our growth trend is a result of relocations.

To those of us who live here now, we see these not as disadvantages, but as an opportunity to make of Charlotte what we like and take an active role in guiding the future of Charlotte's development, without feeling overwhelmed by centuries of "this is how we've always done it". The city is very open to creating new traditions and implementing new ideas. I think Charlotte is also on its way to becoming more European, in the sense that we're supporting urban density, efficient transportation, cultural diversity, street level boutique retail and concentrated pockets of entertainment and nightlife.

Charlotte is certainly one of the top financial and economic centers in the country. And, as part of the South, has a reputation for morality. So, in that sense, there are some similarities to Milan.

It sounds like you have an adventurous spirit, and are ready to become part of our welcoming city!

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As someone already said, there really isn't a large Italian population down there, but the more the better (I'm 100% Italian) - Charlotte could really use an Italian specialty shop of some kind. Also, there is an active Italian Club there too - it is a good way to meet other Italians in the area. When my grandmother moved here from Queens, she joined the club. I'm not sure if it's all old people, but I'm sure it's worth checking out.

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Have you traveled much in the U.S.? I would say that for as much as Charlotte continues to grow and become a more world-class city, it is a very different experience than living in Europe.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I've meticulously visited and analized Portland (ME), Boston (MA), Providence (RI) and Newport (RI), but I always find something not completely suitable with my business and relocation programs.

Portland is lovely, but extremely cold in winter and with an average low disposable income.

Boston is wonderful, but particulary expensive and already covered by a retail shop like the one I have in mind.

Providence and Newport are very, very nice, but the economy in North Carolina seems more strong, healthy and ... vibrant.

Certain things don't happen by accident and infact Charlotte is full of big European firms.

I'm reading tons of documents about your state and the city of Charlotte, if I don't find any direct competitor to my retail idea, the last thing to do is visiting the city.

Bye, bye.

P.S. Do you know any specialty retail shop selling Made in Italy ?

How is considered this "brand" by middle and upper class people ?

Do they problably think "Better buy Made In China for a very little sum with the

risk to buy it again next year, than spend four times , but keep it for a life ?"

:)

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I've meticulously visited and analized Portland (ME), Boston (MA), Providence (RI) and Newport (RI), but I always find something not completely suitable with my business and relocation programs.

Portland is lovely, but extremely cold in winter and with an average low disposable income.

Boston is wonderful, but particulary expensive and already covered by a retail shop like the one I have in mind.

Providence and Newport are very, very nice, but the economy in North Carolina seems more strong, healthy and ... vibrant.

Certain things don't happen by accident and infact Charlotte is full of big European firms.

I'm reading tons of documents about your state and the city of Charlotte, if I don't find any direct competitor to my retail idea, the last thing to do is visiting the city.

Bye, bye.

P.S. Do you know any specialty retail shop selling Made in Italy ?

     

      How is considered this "brand" by middle and upper class people ?

     

      Do they problably think "Better buy Made In China for a very little sum with the   

      risk to buy it again next year, than spend four times , but keep it for a life ?"

:)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I love Portland Maine and Boston. Been to both cities several times. You are right about Boston being to expensive. My cousin lives north of Boston and she paid 225,000 for her house. That same house in North Carolina would have been under 100,000.

I am Italian myself but have only been to Italy once. I love it there, why leave? I would move there myself if I could.

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I understand it is incredibly difficult to get things done in Italy if you are an entrepreneur. This, combined with a change of scenery from Milan, probably is why he is seeking to move.

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      How is considered this "brand" by middle and upper class people ?

     

      Do they problably think "Better buy Made In China for a very little sum with the   

      risk to buy it again next year, than spend four times , but keep it for a life ?"

I'd much rather buy made in Italy, Germany, etc. than made in China or Korea. I think most other upper middle to upper class people are the same. Lower middle class could care less I think.

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P.S. Do you know any specialty retail shop selling Made in Italy ?

     

      How is considered this "brand" by middle and upper class people ?

     

      Do they problably think "Better buy Made In China for a very little sum with the   

      risk to buy it again next year, than spend four times , but keep it for a life ?"

:)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The shops that come to mind are food related: fresh pasta, imported olive oil, wine, meats, cheeses, sweets and the like (Pasta & Provisions, Dean & Deluca). As far as decorative items such as art, glass and jewelry, you see it among the selection at finer gift stores or boutiques but I can't recall any specialist shop. I also can't think of any direct importers of leathers or other fashions and accessories except for a couple of expensive shoe stores in the SouthPark area (Marmi, Via Veneto). There are also a few specialty mass-market retailers, such as WorldMarket, SurLaTable, that sell imported goods for the home (glassware, dishes, cookware, etc.). That's all that comes to mind when I think of Italian goods though - what did I miss? Oh- I think there's also an Italian car dealership nearby that sells Ferraris. Do you have some of those? =)

To offer a generalization, there is a lot of disposable income in Charlotte and a willingness to spend, spend, spend! These are the people with beautiful homes full of art and designer furniture- not likely to buy very much 'Made in China'. On the whole, I think the middle-upper market here is very quality-minded. And, I've observed that people really like specialty shops.

As far as the brand connotation of "Made in Italy" and how much people are willing to spend, I think it depends on the nature of whatever it is you are intending to sell. Consumers are inclined to spend more for items that they consider to be of higher personal value to them. Some people may insist on only the finest quality cookware because they feel it helps them take better care of their family, but don't care about buying their own clothes at Wal-Mart. Some spend extra for a nice car because of what it projects, but then don't spend the extra money for cable television because they think its a waste. So the first obstacle is convincing people that your type of product is something they should highly value, and then, that your product fulfills that value. So, not knowing what your intended products are, its hard to say.

That's is just my opinion as a (nearly) professional shopper and a scholar of consumer behavior. There are a few people on this forum that are actual professionals in the retail industry who may have better insight on the particular demographics and retail trends in Charlotte.

Best of luck! I can't wait to come shop in your store!

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You should open a "Peck" type food emporium in the States, preferably in Jacksonville. You could start small and build over time. My wife loves the Italian flour (which is apparently superior to American flour) and of course olive oil - she would be a frequent shopper.

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I'm from Milano (the economic, financial and moral capital of Italy).

But crime and, especially, pollution is increasing dangerously.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Happiness, you will find some similarities between Milano and Charlotte. Both are close to the mountains (ours are smaller), and we both are close to the sea. Charlotte, like Milano is a banking and business center. You made a nice choice. Your kids will enjoy Charlotte. It is a great city for children, but, unless you live downtown, get used to driving. Actually, I live in Florida but am intimately familiar with Charlotte. People in Charlotte are very nice and welcoming. Good luck.

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My old manager Luigi is from Italy, he moved to High-Point Greensboro area to pursue his career in furniture, He then fell in love with Charlotte and opened up a now defunct Italian Fine Leather Furniture store. The store failed due to location, not the product. Anyway I am just expressing to you that he loves the city of Charlotte, enough to start his own business here. I wonder how he is doing, I need to call him.

I think its great that you may plan on moving to Charlotte, we need as many eclectic boutique style shops as we can get.

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....

As far as the brand connotation of "Made in Italy" and how much people are willing to spend, I think it depends on the nature of whatever it is you are intending to sell. Consumers are inclined to spend more for items that they consider to be of higher personal value to them. Some people may insist on only the finest quality cookware because they feel it helps them take better care of their family, but don't care about buying their own clothes at Wal-Mart. Some spend extra for a nice car because of what it projects, but then don't spend the extra money for cable television because they think its a waste. So the first obstacle is convincing people that your type of product is something they should highly value, and then, that your product fulfills that value. So, not knowing what your intended products are, its hard to say.

...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Very clever reply indeed.

That phenomenon is related with the consumer behaviour usually called trading-up. That is buying a more expensive item (of high quality with absolutely no doubt), because I feel that my personal being (and income) is ready and able to pretend something better.

I've just carefully read "Why We Buy" by Paco Underhill to understand something more of the retail world and I've based my doctoral tesis ( I'm 38, but in Italy we say ... better late than never !!!) on this interesting book, which demonstrates the existence (and the need) of a Science of Shopping.

I've always worked in my packaging company (corrugated boxes, styrofoam, tapes, ect.) therefore I need lots of information about this new business sector.

P.S. Sorry for my english (I will improve it !)

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So, may I have some pics of the different neighborhoods close to uptown ?

Please.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Basic Charlotte area descriptions Try this link to a website I found that gives a general overview of the major neighborhoods (no pictures though). Pictures are scattered throughout this site - I've seen a photo thread recently for Myers Park Myers Park pics. I'm not sure where you can find one source for a photographic overview of all the in-town neighborhoods, but that sure would be nice to see.

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Actually these pictures show Charlotte to be less urban than it is......especially the pictures of the Wards which are in downtown. There are a lot more condos/townhomes than these pictures show.

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