A grocery store that holds its grand opening at 5 p.m. isn’t typical.
That’s exactly how owners and managers of the new 24-hour Lowes Foods at 2440 Augusta Highway in Lexington hope to be seen – as atypical.
“Most people work, so we set the grand opening at 5 so that people who work and families with kids who are in school all day can get off work and get out of school and come celebrate the store with us,” said Tim Lowe, Lowes Foods CEO, in an interview with The State at the new location on Tuesday.
Lowes Foods will open its first location in Richland and Lexington counties across from Lexington High School at 5 p.m. Wednesday. It’s the first of two Lowes Foods stores opening this year in Lexington – the other, at 5226 Sunset Blvd., is slated to open this summer. Last week, the company announced a third area location will open next year at 4711 Forest Drive in Columbia in the space vacated last fall by Bi-Lo.
The Lexington location features a Shop Carolina Movement area prominently displayed just inside the front doors. That section includes locally produced products such as Adams Apple jams made in Lexington, Bee Well Honey made in Pickens and Bobby’s Seasonings made in Columbia. The store also features locally grown produce from Rawl Farms and Titan Farms – two area farms that Lowes Foods has partnered with to supply produce for other stores. The Lexington store has partnered with Amick Farms for locally sourced chicken.
The store also features the chain’s new standard store areas, including The Beer Den. An in-store bar of sorts, The Beer Den features a selection of crafts and drafts, including IPAs and ESBs, porters, stouts and pilsners, with seasonal offerings of eight beers on tap to enjoy in store or to take home in 32- or 64-ounce growlers filled on site. (The growlers can also be returned to the store for an intense, two-minute cleaning and for refilling). The Beer Den also features wine by the glass as well as coffee by the mug.
The store also includes the Community Table area that features an actual table made from a mix of heart pine, standard pine and oak from a poultry barn in North Wilkesboro, N.C. At the Community Table, customers can take cooking classes from Lowes Foods chefs, participate in wine and cheese tastings and sample goods from local farms and businesses.
“Everything that you see here started with that ‘community table’ concept in mind,” Lowe said. “Bringing the community back into the local grocery store and having the local grocery store be a part of the community it serves and actually meeting the needs of that community.”
Also found in store are the Chicken Kitchen, which features fried chicken, rotisserie chicken, wings, tenders and trays – all from antibiotic-free, Carolina-born and -raised, never-frozen, breaded-in-store chicken. And you never have to wonder when the rotisserie chickens are ready. As soon as a batch comes off the rotisserie, the kitchen plays the Chicken Dance song and all employees in the area walk in front of the station and take part in the infamous dance, encouraging customers to join in.
Then there’s SausageWorks, which features locally made pork, beef and turkey sausages in a wide variety of flavors, including sweet tea and pumpkin. This area also features a big draw for kids: buttons they can press that make the SausageWorks sign come to life. At the Pick & Prep station, employees cut, slice, dice, mince or cube your fruits and vegetables while you shop.
Lowes Foods began in 1954 as a single store in North Wilkesboro, N.C., and has grown to become a major supermarket chain operating in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Today, Lowes Foods operates more than 100 stores and continues to open new stores throughout North Carolina and South Carolina.
Other Lowes Foods features:
▪ A “pick your own herbs” section in the front of the store
▪ Lowes Foods Fuel Center
▪ Breadcrumb bakery
▪ Smokehouse will offer daily rotations of wood-smoked meats, including beef, pork, chicken and salmon
▪ Sammy’s in-store sandwich shop
▪ The Cakery, which features a large variety of cakes
▪ A cheese station, which features more than 400 varieties of cheese
▪ Spice bazaar with a variety of spice packets as well as dip mixes and bulk bins
▪ A vast wine selection and on-site wine
▪ Crank-your-own fresh peanut butter and a fill-a-carafe infused olive oil station
▪ In lieu of a free cookie offered at many other grocery stores, the store will offer kids a free piece of organic fruit