Family Dollar (Photo: Mike Mozart/Flickr)

Born in North Carolina: Family Dollar

Did you know that one of the most well-known discount variety stores — Family Dollar — was established in the great state of North Carolina?

Unlike other discount stores, items sold in Family Dollar are not unilaterally priced with a one dollar ceiling (depending on the item, it may cost more or less than a dollar). This allows you to find a greater selection of low-priced items at a variety of price points.

As part of Dickens Mitchener’s “Born in North Carolina” series, let’s learn more about how Charlotte-based Family Dollar became one of the nation’s most iconic bargain retail stores.

The history of Family Dollar

Founded by a 21-year-old entrepreneur named Leon Levine, Family Dollar opened its first store location on Central Avenue in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1959. Shortly after, additional stores opened their doors in South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia. Since then, Family Dollar has grown to be one of the largest discount and dollar stores in the United States. By the late 1980s, the brand boasted more than 1,500 stores in operation.

What Family Dollar is up to today

Currently, the company employs 60,000 employees across 8,000 store locations nationwide. While initial start-up costs for the store involved $3,000 of Levine’s own money and $3,000 from an additional partner, the company is currently valued at more than $10 billion in 2017.

After Levine retired in 2003, his son, Howard R. Levine, stepped up to take the position of CEO and Chairman — ensuring that the time-honored brand remains a family affair. In January 2015, Family Dollar merged with fellow discount retailer, Dollar Tree, though the brand still operates under the Family Dollar name and Levine holds a spot on the Dollar Tree board of directors.

Contact Dickens Mitchener today to learn more about why businesses like Family Dollar set down their roots in North Carolina.

Tryon Equestrian Center and Resort - Photo by Sugoipix/Flickr

Born in North Carolina: Tryon International Equestrian Center and Resort

The city of Tryon, North Carolina is widely regarded to be the region’s equine capital — a fact that is further cemented by the recent development of Tryon International Equestrian Center and Resort — a sprawling $100 million luxury resort and 1,400-acre equestrian center in Polk County.

The Center, which is slated to host the prestigious World Equestrian Games in 2018, features 10 riding arenas, stadium seating for 6,000 people, 1,000 permanent horse stalls, multiple viewing decks, and a covered riding facility. In addition to equestrian facilities, there is also a health club, pool, tennis and basketball courts, climbing walls, a mountain bike park, and other luxury health and fitness amenities.

As part of Dickens Mitchener’s “Born in North Carolina” series, let’s learn more about how the city of Tryon became one of the nation’s most important equine sporting destinations.

The horsey history of Tryon, North Carolina

Named after William Tryon, the eighth Governor of North Carolina, the city of Tryon is renowned for its active equestrian community, which dates back to the early 20th century with the founding of the Tryon Riding and Hunt Club, Block House Steeplechase, and the Tryon Horse Show.

One of the most iconic testaments to the city’s love of equine creatures is Morris, a large horse toy statue that stands at the city center. First built in 1928 by Tryon Toymakers and Woodcarvers, Morris has undergone several replacements and refurbishments over the years — most recently in 2012.

In addition to the brand new Tryon International Equestrian Center and Resort, the city is also home to the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center, which offers a series of nature trails for riding and hiking as well as space for hosting equestrian events.

From elite Olympic athletes to hobbyist equestrians, Tryon is a must-visit location for anyone who is passionate about equestrian culture and history.

Contact Dickens Mitchener today to learn more about why businesses like Tryon International Equestrian Center and Resort choose to make North Carolina their home.

Born in North Carolina: Lee Industries

Lee Industries furniture

Believe it or not, one of the most innovative leaders in environmentally friendly furniture manufacturing, Lee Industries, was founded right here in the great state of North Carolina.

As part of Dickens Mitchener’s “Born in North Carolina” series, let’s take a closer look at why people across the country choose Lee Industries for all their home furnishing needs.

The history of Lee Industries

1969 marks the year that Lee Industries founders Bill and Dottie Coley first opened the doors of their furniture factory in Newton, North Carolina. Staffed by just a small team of 10 people, the company’s goal was to design and manufacture high-quality wood-framed upholstered furniture. They met this goal handily and soon began to expand on their success.

Growing to meet customer demand

Today, Lee boasts 670 skilled associates, four manufacturing plants, and an expanded product selection of furniture and home decor products, including slipcovers, outdoor furniture, leather furniture, and even a natural furniture line called NaturalLEE.

What sets Lee Industries apart from other furniture manufacturers is the company’s commitment to producing furniture made in the USA. As they explain on their website, “98 percent of the components in [Lee] products are supplied domestically, and most suppliers are in our home state of North Carolina. This includes the frames, foam, springs, cotton ticking, decking, fabrics, and packaging. Local suppliers mean local employment and reduced transportation costs and CO2 emissions.”

In addition to meeting the ever-changing needs and wants of their customers, Lee Industries is also highly active in supporting charitable community organizations — from national efforts involving the United Way and the American Red Cross, to local initiatives like Keep Catawba County Beautiful and the Clean Air Carolina 5k. Lee also facilitates a college scholarship program for students in the Newton area.

Contact Dickens Mitchener today to learn more about why people and businesses choose to make North Carolina their home.

Born in North Carolina: Food Lion

Food Lion, a brand born in North Carolina.

Food Lion in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo:  Ildar Sagdejev)

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.

Contact Dickens Mitchener today to learn more about why people and businesses choose to make North Carolina their home.

Born in North Carolina: Snyder’s-Lance

Lance Captains Wafers Peanut Butter and Honey Cracker Snacks

Peanut Butter & Honey Captain’s Wafers (Photo: Mike Mozart/Flickr)

There’s nothing like opening up your lunch box as a kid and finding a 6-count pack of Captain’s Wafers cracker sandwiches inside. The company responsible for these deliciously salty snack packs is Snyder’s-Lance — one of the most successful food companies founded and operated in North Carolina.

As part of Dickens Mitchener’s “Born in North Carolina” series, let’s take a closer look at how this snack brand has changed over more than 100 years in business.

The history of Snyder’s-Lance

The story begins in 1913 as Philip Lance and his son-in-law, Salem Van Every start selling packets of peanuts on the streets of Charlotte. Single-serve snacks, like the peanut butter cracker sandwiches, soon followed. After two years of success, Lance Packaging Company opened its doors in Charlotte, North Carolina. Since that humble beginning, the company has developed and overseen the success of a number of America’s most iconic snack products, such as snack cracker and cookie sandwiches like ToastChee, Captain’s Wafers, NipChee, Toasty, and Nekots.

Changing with the times

In 2010, Lance, Inc. merged with Snyder’s of Hanover, a fellow snack food company based in Pennsylvania. The result of this merger was Snyder’s-Lance, the second largest salty snack food company in the country. Snyder’s-Lance serves as the parent company of several snack food subsidiaries, including Cape Cod Potato Chips, Tom’s Snacks, Stella D’oro, Pop-Secret, KETTLE Brand, and much more. In 2015, Snyder’s-Lance adopted a brand new logo and mission statement, emphasizing the importance of developing “better for you” snack options.

Today, the company continues to manufacture, market, and distribute its snack products from its headquarters in Charlotte’s Ballantyne neighborhood. Ballantyne is one of the city’s most upscale neighborhoods, and its 535-acre Ballantyne Corporate Park is home to several other major companies and organizations, including Tree.com, MetLife, Extended Stay America, ESPN, and Babcock & Wilcox.

Contact Dickens Mitchener today to learn more about why people and businesses choose to make North Carolina their home.

 

Born in North Carolina: Cheerwine

Cheerwine, born in Salisbury, North Carolina.If you’ve spent any amount of time in the great state of North Carolina, you know that Cheerwine soda holds an almost cult-like status among residents and transplants alike. For many decades, the availability of this fizzy, cherry-flavored drink was exclusive to a handful of Southeastern states, but that’s changing now that the product’s distribution is beginning to extend to all 50 states. Of course, even as Cheerwine appears in grocery stores and restaurant soda fountains throughout the country, the drink still holds firmly to its rich North Carolinians roots.

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 absolutely love this quintessential soft drink brand.

The history of Cheerwine

Cheerwine was developed in 1917 by businessman L.D. Peeler in Salisbury, North Carolina, just as the U.S. was entering the first World War.

“Sugar was heavily rationed at the time,” according to Eater, which is why “Peeler wanted to create a new soft drink that would use less of it; adding cherry flavoring reduced the amount of sugar needed to make the drink palatable.”

While the pleasantly strong cherry flavor makes Cheerwine stand out from the crowd of other major soft drinks, Cheerwine is also famed for its extra fizzy carbonation levels. Cheerwine has also become forever associated with North Carolina-style barbecue — it pairs perfectly with the state’s signature vinegar-based sauce. It’s even the official beverage of the National Barbecue Association!

In addition to the drink, it’s not uncommon to find other Cheerwine-inspired products in North Carolina, including Cheerwine ice cream, Cheerwine cake, and even limited edition Krispy Kreme Cheerwine donuts. Naturally, you’ll find all these products in Food Lion — another major food brand that got its start in Salisbury, North Carolina.

The future is sweet, red, and fizzy

Today, Cheerwine is still owned and operated by Peeler’s family, and even as sales of competing soda brands drop around the country, Cheerwine is experiencing growing sales by leaning into its cult-like status and distributing at a larger scale.

In 2017, the drink marked its 100th anniversary. As a testament to the drink’s “hometown hero” status, the city of Salisbury organized a centennial Cheerwine celebration this past May, featuring live music, a barbecue competition, and of course, plenty of the fizzy red drink to toast to the next hundred years!

Contact Dickens Mitchener today to learn more about why people choose to make North Carolina their home.