The intense grocery wars in the Charlotte area are about to get some real entertainment. Lowes Foods is expanding in the Charlotte market with a “first of its kind” grocery store concept.
The Winston-Salem based grocer will open a new store at the former Earth Fare location at 14021 Boren St. in Huntersville featuring an entertainment area, the company said in a news release Friday.
The mezzanine area will be available for birthday parties, club meet-ups, team celebrations, to listen to local musicians, as well as for floral arranging classes, trivia nights, board game tournaments, and beer and wine tastings.
“It will be the first of its kind that will have a focus on entertainment while at the same time offering a seamless shopping experience,” Lowes Foods President Tim Lowe said in a statement.
No timeframe for an opening is set yet, as Lowes Foods is planning a construction schedule, according to the company. But a hiring center will open next week, according to Lowes Foods. The company expects to hire about 100 people.
The grocer, with two other Charlotte area locations in Mooresville and Harrisburg, is trying to stand out from typical supermarket by pitching itself as a “community hub,” according to the the company.
Charlotte’s grocery competition is red-hot has new grocers enter the market and expand like Farmstead, Lidl and Earth Fare, as well as Food Lion, Publix and Aldi.
The Huntersville store is designed like a food hall as a place to grab a morning coffee, family dinner on the go, beer with a friend or to pick up groceries curbside, according to Lowes Foods.
What else to expect
Five years ago, Lowes Foods reopened its remodeled Mooresville store as the company began promoting locally sourced goods, including a new bakery, smokehouse and wine bar, the Observer previously reported.
The Huntersville store will include those additions, including The Beer Den with craft beers and drafts; “pick and prep” station to have fruits and vegetables sliced, diced, minced or cubed; and The Chicken Kitchen, prepared chicken as rotisserie, wings, pot pies, tenders, salad and soup.
Sammy’s offers breakfast, lunch or dinner sandwiches and salads to eat in-store or take home.
Another new feature is “frictionless shopping experience,” meaning shoppers can order everything online for pickup curbside or in-store.
For example, if a shopper orders coffee from the Boxcar, a breakfast sandwich from Sammy’s and fresh fruit from Pick & Prep, it is prepared and gathered at one spot.
The 67-year-old company has almost 9,000 employees at 80 Lowes Foods supermarkets in the Carolinas, including two in the Charlotte market in Mooresville and Harrisburg. Lowes Foods is a subsidiary of Alex Lee, based in Hickory.
More grocery stores
Other grocers are jostling for market share in the Charlotte region, including two store openings in June.
Lidl opened its ninth Charlotte area store at 615 W. Mallard Creek Church Road at University City, not far from grocers Trader Joe’s and Harris Teeter. And Asheville-based specialty grocer Earth Fare opened its sixth area store in Davidson.
In April, several grocers made new moves.
Lidl opened a store in Steele Creek, and plans to open two more stores at South Boulevard and Carmel Commons.
Food Lion, based in Salisbury, opened a store at 1620 Ashley Road in Charlotte, and has reopened stores in York and Chester, S.C.
And, online-only Silicon Valley-based grocer Farmstead, which opened in November, expanded free delivery service to North Carolina homes within an hour’s drive of its West Charlotte distribution hub.
Another discount German grocer, Aldi, recently opened stores in Cornelius, Rock Hill and Indian Land, S.C., and Florida-based Publix plans to open at least five Charlotte locations at Arboretum, North Creek Village in Huntersville, 10 Tryon building in uptown, at the corner of Sharon and Colony roads in South Park and 11525 Carmel Commons.
However, Walmart remains No. 1 in market share in the Charlotte region, followed by Matthews-based Harris Teeter, according to sales tracking firm Chain Store Guide’s latest report.