Lowes Foods, a grocery store chain based in Winston-Salem, N.C., announced last week that it plans to enter the Greenville market in 2016. The chain intends to invest money in rebranding existing stores, building new stores and evaluating strategic marketplace opportunities, officials said.
Before entering a market, the Lowes team polls potential customers in that market regarding the services and products they would most like to see, said Tim Lowe, president of Lowes Foods. Greenville customers stressed healthy living, local and natural products, he said.
“We feel like we can help fulfill a need, and [Greenville] is a natural fit for us,” Lowe said.
He said Lowes Foods offers a variety of “shopping experiences,” ranging from online ordering and personalized shopping via “Lowes Foods to Go” to the Pick & Prep area, which allows shoppers to pick out fruits and vegetables to be cut and prepared by an on-site sous chef. In the Beer Den, shoppers can get growlers filled with local on-tap beers, and SausageWorks provides different flavors of locally made sausages from Lowes Butchery.
“We try to do everything in a way where customers will really enjoy the shopping experience,” Lowe said.
The Lowes team is evaluating several different sites in the greater Greenville area, but no specific locations have been determined at this point.
“We want to be thoughtful about where we enter,” Lowe said.
Lowes Foods will assess opportunities for both retrofitting existing buildings and building new sites. Store footprints usually range from 30,000 square feet to 58,000 square feet, with an average of 48,000 square feet. Plans call for the first area store to open in late spring or early summer 2016.
“We don’t consider coming into a market and opening just one store,” Lowe said.
Lowes Foods was founded in 1954, employs nearly 9,000 people and operates 97 full-service supermarkets in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
“We’re excited about coming to the Greenville market,” Lowe said.