- Lowes Foods plans to open a new concept store in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area, according to an announcement from the company.
- The nearly 27,000-square-foot space will focus on offering foodservice, entertainment and a frictionless shopping experience, Lowes stated. The company has not yet set an opening date for the location.
- The store will focus on Lowes' original concepts, including meal stations like Chicken Kitchen along with branded service departments, as the grocer seeks to differentiate itself in a competitive East Coast market.
Lowes has long focused on adding entertainment value to the grocery shopping experience, from its uniquely branded service departments to its chicken dance routines.
Now, the company is centering a new store in Huntersville, North Carolina, around many of these elements as it seeks to become more of a meal destination for shoppers and further distinguish itself from competitors.
“This store is the next step in the Lowes Foods brand transformation from typical supermarket to differentiated store to, now, a community hub,” President Tim Lowe said. “The Huntersville store is designed to serve a variety of needs for our guests. It will be the place for a morning coffee, family dinner on the go, beer with a friend, or picking up groceries curbside.”
The former Earth Fare location will be more of a food hall than a grocery store, the release noted, with numerous made-to-order as well as grab-and-go stations, along with departments that riff on traditional service areas, including:
- The Smokehouse, which turns out wood-smoked meats for in-store dining or takeout.
- The Beer Den, Lowes’ in-store bar concept.
- Sammy’s, which makes custom salads and sandwiches.
- The Cakery, which makes custom cakes.
- Divine Cut, which provides a variety of meats.
The new store will feature a mezzanine where shoppers can hold birthday parties, book clubs and other celebrations, and where the grocer will host events like trivia nights, wine tastings, live music and classes.
It will also feature what Lowes calls a “frictionless” omnichannel experience. This includes payment terminals at each food station, allowing shoppers to make quick meal purchases or bundle together orders across departments. Shoppers can, alternatively, choose curbside or in-store pickup and have selections gathered across multiple stations.
The store, which Lowe said in the announcement has been in the planning stages “for some time,” will hire around 100 employees.
Lowes, which operates 80 stores throughout the Carolinas, plans to open its concept store in what’s become a very competitive grocery market in Charlotte, with companies like Lidl, The Fresh Market, Publix, Walmart and Farmstead all vying for sales. Lowes operates two stores in the area, in Mooresville and Harrisburg.
Competition from alternative formats as well as evolving shopper needs have spurred other regional grocers to launch novel, often scaled-down, store concepts. Schnuck Markets opened its first EatWell natural foods store last year and is planning to open a fresh-focused location in Indiana later this month. Fresh Thyme Market and Meijer are also planning smaller stores, joining players like Hy-Vee and Publix that have done the same in recent years.