North Carolina-based Lowes Foods announced Wednesday it will build a second grocery store in Lexington County, this one off Hope Ferry Road at U.S. 378.
The other store, officially confirmed three weeks ago, will open at the corner of Augusta Highway and Charter Oaks Road.
The two stores are expected to be ready to open within weeks of each other in July 2017, said Tim Lowe, Lowes Foods president. It will mark the the Winston-Salem grocer’s entry into the competitive Columbia grocery store market.
“It’s going to be a shopping experience like no other we’ve ever seen in Lexington,” Mayor Steve MacDougall said Wednesday at the groundbreaking for the two new stores, held across from the Charter Oaks Road/Augusta Highway location.
Before deciding to locate a store in a market, Lowes Foods conducts in-home visits with local residents to find out what is most important to them, he said.
“Things that we heard when we came down here . . . is that ‘local’ mattered a lot to them —not just a local sign, but being authentically local,” he said. “That matters a lot to them.”
“Their whole idea around fresh produce, obviously, matters a lot – that farmer’s market feel,” he said.
It becomes the company’s job then to connect those values back to the business model and have the values reflected in the local stores, Lowe said.
The Lexington stores will offer produce sourced through more than 200 local farmers, Lowe said.
Many grocery stores seek to have about 10 percent of produce provided locally, Lowe said. Lowes Foods stores typically carry up to 35 percent local produce during peak season, he said.
Begun as a single store in 1954 in North Wilkesboro, N.C., Lowes Foods has stores in the Carolinas and Virginia. Its six South Carolina stores are in Myrtle Beach and other coastal towns, but the company is moving into other South Carolina communities including in Greer, where a store is slated to open later this year. Plans also call for a store in Greenville.
Shelley Metropol, Greater Lexington Chamber & Visitors Center board vice president, said Lowes Foods’ decision to come to Lexington County is more proof that Lexington County is “on fire.”
“The real estate market here in Lexington County is really just a reflection of what’s happening in our community in general,” Metropol, a realtor, said. Last year in the Lexington area, 2,070 homes were sold, Metropol said. So far this year, 1,951 homes have been sold, she said.
Of about 4,000 homes sold in the area in the past 18 months, 1,020 of them were new, said Metropol, citing multiple listings data. Also, 1,450 building permits were issued during that period, but only 220 new homes are on the market in the Lexington area.
“What that tells me is we’re selling them as fast as we can build them,” Metropol said.
Roddie Burris: 803-771-8398