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Lowe’s Food rolls out Just$ave value-focused chain in N.C.

Winston-Salem, NC-based Lowe’s Food Stores Inc. is test-driving a new value-driven retail concept in its home state with the opening of two new Just$ave stores.

Lowe’s evaluated extensive consumer research before coming up with the Just$ave model. The studies showed that consumers are looking for more ways to save money and time and want to support the communities in which they live. Just$ave is designed to address those needs.

In February, the first Just$ave store opened in Pilot Mountain, NC, replacing a Lowes Foods store there. On May 18, the second Just$ave opened in Graham, NC, also replacing an existing Lowes Foods store.

Referred to as Lowes’ “frugal cousin,” Just$ave is positioning itself as a bargain destination for meats and fresh local produce. The chain plans to buy local produce whenever possible and is the exclusive outlet for “Pilot Mountain Pride” produce.

According to Lowe’s spokesperson Beth Talley, “We know the best value … is offering the freshest products at the peak of the season for freshness and taste. We package some of our produce to help keep the product as fresh as possible and also to help [consumers] know the total cost before [they] buy.”

While maintaining product quality, Just$ave has cut out the frills and takes a folksy approach to produce. One of its mantras is “Saving you lots of moola is what we’re talkin’ about!”

“Just$ave will provide [consumers] with a sense of being part of a community and our family,” Ms. Talley said in a written statement. “Our store appeals to budget-conscious people who believe in hometown goodness and traditional cooking. We are a destination for meat and deliver sensible ways for hard-working folks to provide quality product for their families at prices that are so good it’s not worth the trip to go anywhere else.”

“Lowes Foods has always had a strong customer orientation. Our stores reflect the varied needs and desires of shoppers in different areas,” according to Ms. Talley. “Just$ave focuses on local companies and purchasing local products and is an active participant in the communities in which it serves. Just$ave will offer hometown customer service, and … the company will continue to play an active role in the community and focus on programs that help feed the hungry and educate our youth.”

Lowes Foods began in 1954 as a single store in North Wilkesboro, NC, and has grown to become a significant supermarket chain employing 8,500 people and operating 108 stores 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. in 1984 and began an aggressive expansion program in 1986, opening 19 stores over the following 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 more than 100 stores and continues to open new stores throughout North and South Carolina.

Just$ave and Lowes are both part of Alex Lee Inc., a family-owned company that has been in business since 1931. The current incarnation formed in 1992 after MDI purchased Institution Food House, creating an integrated food distribution company.