Lowes Foods Company History

Lowes Foods began in 1954 as a single store in North Wilkesboro, NC, and has grown to become a major supermarket chain operating in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The company grew rapidly during the 1960s, '70s and early '80s. Lowes Foods was acquired by Merchants Distributors, Inc. (MDI) in 1984 and began an aggressive expansion program in 1986, opening 19 stores over the next four years. In 1997, Lowes Foods acquired Byrds Food Stores, located in eastern North Carolina. It continued its growth in 2000 with the purchase of 13 Hannaford stores. Today Lowes Foods operates nearly 100 stores and continues to open new stores throughout North and South Carolina.

Lowes Foods has always had a strong customer orientation. Our stores reflect the varied needs and desires of shoppers in different areas. Stores, products and services are continually updated to meet the changing needs of customers. In the 1990s, Lowes Foods introduced FreshSmart stores, with an emphasis on customer service and fresh produce, meat, seafood, deli and bakery items. 

In 2013, Lowes Foods set out to break the mold of the standard supermarket and create a distinctive grocery shopping experience worthy of our Carolina roots.  The development began with in depth consumer research and a series of overnight workshops designed to get the very best ideas from managers across all facets of the Lowes Foods, Merchants Distributors (MDI), and Alex Lee businesses.  During these workshops, our new vision for Lowes Foods was born:  “We grow community.”  And, a number of new concepts were created including Chicken Kitchen, SausageWorks, Pick & Prep, and the Community Table.  In January, 2013, Lowes Foods re-opened the first store to offer all of the newly developed concepts in Clemmons, NC.  And, the spark of innovation has led to continued development of new concepts to further differentiate our stores.

Lowes Foods is part of the Alex Lee family of companies. Alex Lee grew out of Merchants Produce Company which was founded in 1931 by Alex and Lee George. Alex and Lee were generous people who cared about both friends and strangers. Alex George, the entrepreneur, knew everyone's name and directed the warehouse operations. Lee George, the negotiator, was adept at procurement and sales, but was best known for his kindness. Their integrity, honesty, fairness and loyalty earned them wide trust and great respect among both customers and employees. Alex and Lee believed in customer service and guided the company through good and bad times by focusing on how they could best serve the customer.

The tradition begun by Alex and Lee George continues today at Lowes Foods and its sister company and distributor, MDI. Each of the Alex Lee companies has grown tremendously over the years by remaining committed to doing what's right for the customer. Today's team of hosts at Lowes Foods takes great pride in creating services that make life easier for our guests and distinguish us from our competitors.

Boy with Heirloom Tomatoes