Food Lion Unveils Final Round of Store Renovations for the Year in Virginia
Food Lion unveiled a new, easier shopping experience for customers in 14 towns and cities throughout the greater Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Va., markets on Wednesday, July 31.
The company made a significant $40 million capital investment in its 23 area stores earlier this year, which included remodeling the stores, hiring 400 additional associates and giving back to local communities. There were four towns specifically that were designated as dignitary stores where local dignitary spoke on the importance of the events.
On May 28, 1988, Michael Craig worked as a produce associate inside the Food Lion Staunton, Va., store located on 2411 West Beverley St.
Fast forward to Wednesday – 31 years later he was at the same store helping to kick off the regions re-grand openings and renovations as the region’s Director of Operations.
“This is just a great experience,” Craig said. “I worked here, my office was here and now today we are celebrating a major renovation of our store and improved shopping experience for our customers.”
More than 50 residents stood in line and listened to store manager Junior Castle., as he told them about what they could expect in expanded offerings inside the store. Staunton Mayor Carolyn Dull describe the new store as “beautiful” and a wonderful investment into the town.
Customer Gary Whisner agreed. “You know it really wasn’t that bad of a store before you all renovated it,” he said while in line for the grand opening. “The improvements are better, but the real gem are your associates. They are always so helpful.”
Customer Maronaca Crawford received a “sweet” surprise – flowers for being first customer in line with her family at 6 a.m. “I am a regular customer who comes in here just about every day,” she said.
Her neighbor told of how Crawford has been helpful with her husband who is going through the early signs of dementia. “She has been so helpful and really deserve it,” the neighbor said.
In eastern Rockingham County, Va., in the town of Elkton, an excited crowd of customers joined store manager Nathan Gray in celebrating their new Food Lion.
Joining in the festivities and helping to cut the ribbon was Elkton resident and Special Olympian Troy Evans, an enthusiastic Food Lion supporter.
Indicative of the Elkton’s commitment to its community, Gray presented a check for $1,000 from Food Lion Feeds, the grocer’s hunger relief initiative, to Elkton Area United Services, to continue the organization’s mission to fight hunger.
Marsha Keck Devers, executive director of Elkton Area United Services, said her organization’s partnership with Food Lion has been critical to the agency’s ability to feed its neighbors in need.
“This long-term partnership between Elkton Area United Services and Food Lion has enabled us to provide fresh breads, produce and other items to the 11 percent of our neighbors who are food insecure,” Devers said. “Food Lion has been an essential part of our distribution.”
Joining Devers at the ribbon cutting ceremony was Donna Fields, the agency’s food pantry coordinator.
As customers streamed into the store, it was clear they liked what they saw, from an expanded variety of products to new services like Food Lion To-Go curbside pick-up.
“This is my Food Lion! It’s my favorite store of them all. I love Food Lion; I know all of the employees here and they treat me like family. That is special to me,” said Michelle Mercer as she waited for the grand opening ceremony to begin at store #253 in Charlottesville, Va.
Mercer was the first customer in line at the store, arriving at 600 a.m., and she took a moment to share her thoughts about the store and its associates with SM Taylor Jenkins just before the start of the ribbon cutting ceremony. She also raved about the selection and prices in the store, a thread that Jenkins picked up as he began his formal remarks to kick off the event.
As he shared info on the expanded selection in the store, he said, “We are offering our customers a great grocery experience where it’s easy to shop, easy to save and easy to figure out what’s for dinner tonight.”
In a special moment during the ribbon cutting, Taylor announced the donation by Food Lion of $1,000 to New Beginnings Christian Church in Charlottesville. Joining Taylor to accept the donation were Rev. Greg Moyer and Pastor Liz Emrey, who said, “We are so very grateful to and all of your associates for what you do for our community and for our church. We feed 100 families every Saturday who come to our church food pantry for help. We could not do that without you, Food Lion, so I truly mean it when I say, ‘thank you, thank you, thank you, Food Lion.’
The sense of family and community was even stronger as Jenkins welcomed two special guests toward the podium, Jamie Wills Payne and her father, Jimmie Payne who were greeted with a rousing round of applause and cheers by the store associates gathered.
Jimmie Payne and his wife were the first customers ever to enter this store when it opened its doors in 1987, and were regulars for decades until Mrs. Payne became ill and later passed away.
Jamie explained, “My mother and my father love this store. You knew if you were going shopping with mama, it would take three hours, because she knew every associate by name and would want to stop and talk with every single one. And now, it’s my father and I who come here every week to shop. We stop and visit with Rambo and Robert and Chris and Taylor. We know everyone who works here and everyone does an amazing job at this store. It’s such an honor and privilege for us to be here with you today, to honor my mother in this way, among her favorite associates. Thank you, Food Lion.”
And with that, Mr. Payne stepped behind the ribbon, and with one quick swipe of the big gold scissors, cut the ribbon, marking the official opening of the new Pantops Food Lion in Charlottesville, Va.
James Stewart, Store Manager at the Fisherville, VA Food Lion, was excited and ready to open his newly remodeled store to the line of customers waiting outside early Wednesday morning. He kicked things off during the associate huddle by thanking his associates and each of the department heads for their hard work and patience during months of construction. “I couldn’t have done this without any of you!” he said.
During the grand opening remarks, James talked about the new offerings at the store and what customers could expect but then began to focus on Food Lion’s commitment to the community and hunger relief. He shared a personal story about a time he volunteered with a Meals on Wheels delivery for Food Lion Feeds and how much it impacted him. “The client asked me to put the food in her refrigerator and when I did, I saw there was hardly any food in there. I’m proud and privileged to work for a company that thinks about people who need something to eat and can’t afford to get it.”
“Food Lion is a great employer of this area and we’re glad to have them as part of the community” said Virginia Delegate Steven Landes.
After the grand opening, customers excitedly entered the store to see for themselves everything James spoke about earlier. “I just love the new look, it’s so great! I will be coming here every week!” exclaimed one customer, who was wearing the apron she had just received.