Many grocery retailers talk about experiential shopping, but few deliver the level of interactivity that Loews does, bold examples of food theater that entice folks to visit the store and bring the young'uns rather than site at home and order groceries online – which Lowe's also provides, if you're not in the mood for breakfast, lunch or dinner and a show.
"It's all about 'retail-tainment' – the experience," the company president, Tim Lowe, says during a visit to the store near Greenville.
First and foremost is the food. "It has to be quality," Lowe says, explaining the banner's 200 percent refund-and-replace guarantee on all items. "And we want it to be fun."
The Simpsonville store is the first of Lowe's supermarkets to feature The Cavern, an on-site microbrewery that creates beers that can be enjoyed in indoor and outdoor seating areas or at the bar of the Beer Den, which offers an extensive craft beer collection, including many Carolina brews.
Other In-Store Specialties
Additionally, the Simpsonville market features a special destination concept, Lowes Food Originals, encompassing fresh meat, produce, prepared foods, baked foods and speciality items: the Chicken Kitchen, SausageWorks, Pick & Prep (vegetable butcher), The Cakery (cake bakery), Boxcar Coffee & Chocolate, Breadcrumb (bread bakery), Spice Bazzar, The Cheese Shop, and Sunmill Wines.
"All of our Originals are truly unique, and together they create a village of different shops, our community," asserts Heather George, Lowes' SVP of brand strategy. "What really makes the experience in our stores stand out is our hosts," how Lowes refers to its associates.
A focal point of the store is the Lowes Foods Community Table, where shoppers can gather to sample, enjoy and be inspired to prepare new foods.
For those who don't have time for the show, the store offers the Lowes Foods To Go online person shopping service, for delivery and pickup.
To be sure, Lowes has created a community inside the store designed to serve the one outside its walls.
Be Our Guest
The brand transformation and new store concepts were all inspired by customers, whom Lowes refers to as guests.
"We started by doing extensive in the homes of consumers around our stores," George explains. "We determined that we needed to create an experience inside the store that made it worthwhile to come in to shop. We had an opportunity to build the experience around the idea of community. The heart of our store is to bring the community back to the table, and so the introduction of our community table was born."
Creating a Lived-in Look
Fashioned from wood reclaimed from Carolina tabacco barns, the Community Table hosts local groups as well as the store associates' team huddle each morning.
The color and fragrance of produce, fresh-ground coffee and handmade chocolates greet shoppers at the entrance, but it's likely to be the rustic aromas emanating from the meat smoker out in front of the store that draw folks in and around the perimeter to the Smokehouse for the ribs, pulled port and other hardwood-smoked meats offered daily.
"We're creating an entirely new shopping experience within our Lowes Foods stores," says Chris Van Parys, VP of fresh sales and merchandising. "Our guests expect us to deliver unique, authentic, great-tasting products that they can also customize to meet their specific needs. Each of our concepts has to be a ready-to-eat component."
– Article by Progressive Grocer, August 2017