If any motorists traveling U.S. 1 in front of Lexington High School this morning momentarily doubted their sanity, not to worry. That was really a group of people on the side of the road doing the chicken dance.
The impromptu dance party closed the official announcement of a new Lowes Foods store to be built at the corner of U.S. 1 and Charter Oaks Road. Tim Lowe, president of Lowes Foods, also announced that a second Midlands location will be built at Hope Ferry Road in Lexington.
Lowe said the two stores will create a total of 300 local jobs.
Lowe then called company and town representatives forward to perform the chicken dance, one of the many lighthearted touches the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based company brings to the grocer game. When rotisserie chicken leaves the oven in the store’s Chicken Kitchen, workers perform the chicken dance and invite customers to join in.
“It is a celebration of our offering and our product,” Lowe said. “We are bringing out the freshest, best-tasting chicken out of our rotisserie, and when we do, we do the celebration.”
That’s just one of the distinctive touches Lowes thinks will appeal to customers in the Columbia market, which joins Greenville as a target expansion area in the chain’s multi-year rebranding process. Lowes emphasizes local products and produce, highlighted at its Community Table, where shoppers can sample and learn to prepare local food. Shoppers can also have selected fruits or vegetables prepared in-store at the Pick & Prep station or take advantage of the Lowes Foods-to-Go online personal shopping service.
Other features of the store include the Beer Den, where South Carolina-brewed beers will be prominent among hundreds of bottles of craft beers and customers can purchase and refill 32- or 64-ounce growlers, and a “pick your own herbs” section that allows shoppers to clip sprigs of fresh herbs.
“It’s going to be a shopping experience like no other we’ve ever seen in Lexington,” Lexington Mayor Steve MacDougall said.
Those attending this morning’s remarks cooled off with the store’s watermelon refresher drinks and fruit-infused water. After the chicken dance and the unveiling off a sign touting the Lowes location “coming soon” across U.S. 1 near bulldozers clearing land, participants sampled the store’s fresh-baked L’Oven cookies and helped themselves to bags of McBee peaches on hand to highlight Lowes’ commitment to local produce.
“We sat down with individuals that live right here in your community, and we said ‘Hey, what do you want from a grocery store?’ ” Lowe said. “They said being authentically local really matters. Being a great community partner really matters. … What we really found was there was a desire for what we have to offer.”
In July 2015, Lowes broke ground on a store in Greer that is scheduled to open this summer. In December 2015, the chain announced plans for a second Upstate store in Simpsonville. Construction began this spring with a targeted opening date of spring 2017.
Otis Rawl, president and CEO of the Greater Lexington Chamber and Visitors Center, said reports from chambers of commerce in Greer and Simpsonville have fueled optimism about Lowes’ presence in Lexington.
“What we’ve found out is that Lowes Foods are great partners in the community,” Rawl said. “It’s just not because they’re moving in and they’re adding to our tax base. They’re creating anywhere from 110 to 120 jobs in each one of the stores. They’re becoming actively involved in our community.”
Founded in 1954, Lowes Foods employs nearly 9,000 people and operates 95 full-service supermarkets in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
“We’re three years into the journey of rebranding the Lowes Foods brand,” Lowe said. “Over the next three years or so, we’ll complete rebranding the company, and in addition to that, we’ll be accelerating with some new growth into some new markets.”