Progress is happening at the Midlands’ newest Lowes Foods on Forest Drive, but don’t grab your canvas shopping bags just yet.
According to Lowes Foods brand director Kelly Davis, opening a grocery store in an existing building is more difficult and takes longer, as opposed to building one from the ground up on a vacant piece of land.
“You don’t know what you’re going to get when you’re dealing with a building with age on it,” Davis said.
The two Lexington Lowes Foods that opened earlier this year were ground-up constructions while the 4711 Forest Dr. location is a remodel of a site most recently occupied by Bi-Lo (which closed that location last fall).
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However, there hasn’t been anything yet to put a snag in the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based grocer’s plans to open the Forest Drive location next summer.
“Right now, the store is gutted, and that’s just the first step of the build,” Davis said. “We’re still in the very early stages so it’s hard this early to make a lot of predictions, but we are still shooting for summer 2018.”
Once complete, the 50,000-square-foot Forest Acres location will have a new exterior and will look similar to the Lexington stores, which follows the grocer’s recent brand redesign.
After Lowes Foods announced locating in the center, Eggs Up Grill announced it will join the shopping center, as well.
“I think it’s going to be a great spot for us,” Davis said.
The Forest Acres location will be the store’s 12th location in South Carolina, following a location in Summerville and another one opening soon in Mount Pleasant.
“The Columbia market is an important part of our company’s overall strategy to remodel existing stores and build new ones,” Lowes Foods President Tim Lowe told The State earlier this fall. “During the construction phase of our two Lexington stores, we have received an incredible welcome to the Columbia area and are very excited to extend Lowes Foods’ unique grocery shopping experience to our new friends.”
When asked whether there are more locations planned for the Columbia market, Davis said, “We’re just going to focus on completing these current projects right now.”
Founded in 1954, Lowes Foods employs approximately 9,000 people and operates nearly 100 full-service supermarkets in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.