Food Lion is one of the most iconic grocery store brands in the southeastern United States, but did you know the company first got its start in Salisbury, North Carolina? That’s why so many North Carolinians choose Food Lion as their go-to supermarket.
As part of Dickens Mitchener’s “Born in North Carolina” series, let’s take a closer look at why people who live in North Carolina have a special place in their heart for this major grocery store chain.
The early days of Food Lion
Food Lion first opened its doors on December 12, 1957, by Wilson Smith, Ralph Ketner, and Brown Ketner in Salisbury, North Carolina — the same city that brought you the region’s most beloved cherry soda, Cheerwine. The community-centric store was originally known as “Food Town,” but the company officially changed its name to “Food Lion” in 1982 after being acquired by international food retail group Ahold Delhaize.
Food Lion’s secret of success? Cost cutting
The company first became a regional and national competitor in the 1960s thanks to its “Lowest Food Prices in NC” cost-cutting strategy. The idea was to lower the price of all items across the board to entice customers to buy more products and achieve a larger profit. The innovative concept revolutionized how supermarkets work, and as a result, Food Lion grew at a rapid pace over the next several decades. During this time, Food Lion was considered the fastest growing grocery store brand in the U.S., with 100 new stores opening their doors each year.
Today, there are around 1,100 stores and 63,000 employees spread across North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, and West Virginia. In keeping with its 60-year-old commitment to building community, Food Lion donates to local school districts as well as organizations like the Children’s Miracle Network, America’s Second Harvest Food Banks, Easter Seals, the United Way, and the American Red Cross.