Lowes Foods hosted a ribbon-cutting Wednesday for its first Midlands store, located at the northwest corner of Charter Oak Road and Augusta Road in Lexington.
The approximately 50,000-square-foot store, which is across the road from Lexington High School, is one of two locations the grocer plans to open in the Columbia area this year. A second store, under construction at U.S. 378 and Hope Ferry Road, is expected to open this summer. Recently, the company announced plans to open a third Midlands location at the Forest Park Shopping Center in Forest Acres.
“Like all our stores, the Lexington store is very focused on supporting all things local while providing exceptional attention to our guests,” said Tim Lowe, president of the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based grocer. “Our commitment includes offering produce sourced through our partnership with more than 200 local farmers and featuring a wide assortment of unique local products found throughout the store.”
Among local vendors serving the Lexington store are Pelion-based Walter P. Rawl & Sons, produce; Monetta-headquartered Amick Farms, chicken products; and the Columbia urban farm City Roots, produce.
Heather George, senior vice president of marketing and brand development, said Lowes seeks out local vendors and will even help startups expand their business from the weekend farmers’ market to serving the 75-store chain. Help from Lowes includes basics such as registering a UPC bar code to be printed on labels, she said.
The aim is to give stores a local flavor as well as grow local businesses, George said. “We want to play a role in supporting the local community,” she said.
Around the perimeter of the store’s interior are various concepts called Lowes Foods Originals, which George described as “a village of different shops.” Some of those concepts are:
· The Community Table, where shoppers can gather to sample new kinds of foods, recipes and even host birthday parties for children. The table, itself, is constructed of reclaimed wood from old barns in the Carolinas.
· At the Beer Den, which features numerous Carolinas-based brews, customers can purchase 64- or 32-ounce growlers and have them filled direct from the tap or purchase bottles to create their own six packs. Customers can “Sip and Shop” by purchasing a pint of beer to drink while shopping or they can sit down at the bar.
· SausageWorks sells sausages produced at the company’s butchery from a traditional brat to those flavored like bourbon, sweet tea or pumpkin.
· Smokehouse offers daily rotations of wood-smoked meats – including beef, pork, chicken and salmon.
· The Chicken Kitchen sells a variety of prepared chicken, including wings, fried, and rotisserie chicken. When hot chicken comes out of the rotisserie oven, store employees working in the Chicken Kitchen perform a special version of the “Chicken Dance.”
· Located in the produce section of the store, Pick & Prep allows customers to pick fruits and vegetables and have store staff slice, dice, or julienne the items.