The vacant lot across from Lexington High School will not be vacant much longer. It will soon be home to one of two new Lowes Food stores, as the North Carolina based chain expands into the Midlands for the first time.
Lowes Foods President Tim Lowe announced at a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday that the Augusta Highway store will be the first of two, with another coming soon to Hope Ferry Road near the Sunset Boulevard intersection. The two stores combined will bring more than 300 new jobs to Lexington. Lowe said he is committed to making the stores part of the community.
“Supporting local is number one for us,” he said. “Most grocery stores get up to 10 percent of their produce locally. We get up to 35 percent of ours.” Lowe added that the decision to open in Lexington was preceded by research which included speaking to residents about what they wanted in a new store. “We found out that we lined up a lot.”
“Lowes Foods is a lot like Lexington,” Mayor Steve MacDougall said at Wednesday’s ceremony. “They’re very progressive, very enthusiastic and very locally focused, and they like to have a lot of fun along the way.”
Shelley Metropol, current treasurer and incoming chairwoman of the Greater Lexington Chamber Board of Directors, said Lowes’ arrival is just another example of the growth of Lexington. “We’re on fire, as we like to say,” she said. “Why do we have all this construction? Because everybody wants to be in Lexington.”
Otis B. Rawl, Jr., former president and CEO of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, said research including discussions with chamber representatives in places which presently have Lowes Foods revealed that “Lowes Foods are great partners in the community once they move in.”
The new stores will offer online shopping, a “pick your own herbs” section with fresh plants allowing shoppers to clip a sprig for recipes requiring small quantities, and a Pick & Prep section where Lowes employees will chop and slice fruits and vegetables to order.
Adults can also enjoy the Beer Den, featuring craft beers including many locally brewed products. Customers can have growlers filled straight from the beer taps, create their own six-packs of bottles, or enjoy cups of beer or wine as they shop.
“If you can put a beer on the cart and shop, I’m going to be helping my wife shop a lot more than in the past,” Rawl said with a laugh.
The stores will also offer prepared food, including dishes from the Chicken Kitchen. “When hot chicken comes out off the rotisserie oven at Lowes Foods, our animated chicken chandelier signals the start of our special chicken celebration,” Lowe said. “Our Chicken Kitchen hosts will perform our own version of the Chicken Dance and invite guests to join in. It’s a lot of fun.”
Lowe said with dirt already being moved at the Augusta Highway location, he expects to see the first store open by summer 2017. Those interested in working at the new stores can apply online.
Pictured: Lowes Foods President Tim Lowe speaks at Wednesday’s groundbreaking, with the store’s Augusta Highway site behind him (photo by Allen Wallace)