On Wednesday, Oct. 11, Food Lion unveiled a new, easier shopping experience for customers in the greater Richmond, Va., market following a significant $110 million capital investment in its 71 area stores this year, which includes remodeling the stores, lowering prices, hiring hundreds of additional associates and giving back to local communities.
As part of the celebration festivities on Oct. 11, the company held ribbon cutting ceremonies at each of its stores and gave away $10 gift cards and thermal tote bags to the first 100 customers at each of its greater Richmond-area locations. A complete list of the remodeled stores, along with the gift card giveaway locations, is available at www.foodlion.com/newsroom.
In addition, consistent with Food Lion's focus on eliminating hunger in its local communities through Food Lion Feeds, the grocer is donating 7,100 meals to 71 local feeding agencies supported by Food Lion stores. This donation is the equivalent of more than 500,000 meals, which will remain in the local communities Food Lion serves. And, the company is partnering with FeedMore to help those who are hungry gain access to more food by donating $100,000, or the equivalent of nearly 500,000 meals, to help improve the distribution of healthy food and increase access to fresh and nutritious meals to the 34 cities and counties served by FeedMore.
With the completion of this market, Food Lion has remodeled 544 of its 1,000 stores in the last three years. Food Lion will continue to make customer-centric enhancements across all stores and remodel additional stores in other markets.
The PR team traveled to several of the ribbon cutting ceremonies to share in the excitement with local dignitaries, Food Lion leadership and store teams. Below, we've captured their stories.
"It’s the people here that make Food Lion home"
Following an early morning downpour, rain clouds parted just in time for a celebration in Quinton, Va., as Food Lion Store 2219 Store Manager Scott Hurst prepared to cut the ribbon at his store, marking it officially re-launched following nearly nine months of remodel work.
"I've shopped here almost every day for nearly 10 years," said loyal customer Bruce McIntyre, who Hurst specially invited to cut the ribbon. "It's the people here that make it home to me."
Food Lion leaders Jason Wilson, vice president of strategy and business development and Jim Giffin, director of operations for the region, as well as local dignitaries, and Quinton, Va., Sherriff and Fire Chief were in attendance.
During the ceremony, Hurst told the crowd how Food Lion changed the grocery shopping experience for its customers, making it easy to shop, easy to save and easy to figure out what’s for dinner each night.
In addition, as part of the celebration and because Food Lion is committed to nourishing its neighbors in need through its Food Lion Feeds philanthropic platform, Hurst presented a check for the equivalent of 7,100 meals to Phillip Felts of New Kent Senior Citizens Food Pantry. Felts was moved by the donation and spoke to the crowd about the impact Food Lion makes on his pantry, and as a result, the Quinton community, each and every day.
"You can't imagine what this donation does for this community," Felts expressed to the crowd. "At my location, my building is 12,000 sq. feet, and 4,000 sq. feet of it is used to prepare and distribute product we receive from this location seven days per week. Hunger knows no boundaries. We really appreciate what Food Lion does for us here in the community."
Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment Jr. also came to the podium to say a few words about Food Lion's generosity.
"I want to thank Food Lion for what they've done," Norment added. "You all have always been a very generous partner in providing food for those who need it. [New Kent Senior Citizens] could not do what they do without the help of Food Lion."
Hurst concluded the ceremony by thanking his dedicated associates.
"Before we cut the ribbon, I'd be remiss if I didn't thank the folks standing right here in front of me," Hurst said at the end of his speech. "These blue shirts and black pants all have names. They're important to me, to us, to this community. They represent Food Lion and this community. There is not enough that can be said to thank each of you for the hard work you've done over the spring, summer and now fall for everything you've done to bring this store to life."
Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, the first 100 customers at the store were given thermal tote bags and $10 gift cards.
"A heartfelt celebration"
Today, associates at Food Lion Store 997 in Petersburg, Va., had a big reason to celebrate. Some of their dearest customers came out to join them for the grand reopening of their neighborhood store, and the heartfelt comments they shared made this big day all the more special.
Associates arrived at the store early Wednesday morning to a parking lot full of customers, waiting for the doors to open. Many customers showed up early for their chance to snag a Food Lion tote bag and a $10 gift card that was handed out to the first 100 customers. Others came because they had much to share about this store and its associates.
"This store is my favorite store because they help me," said customer Lena Hobs.
Hobs, a wheelchair-bound customer, appreciates the helpfulness of her friendly Food Lion associates that assist her with reaching products and helping her to her car. She excitedly came to the podium during the ribbon cutting ceremony to share.
"No matter what I ask for they are always there for me, and I want to thank them and tell them to keep up the good work," said Hobs.
Store Manager DJ Bailey led the ribbon cutting ceremony and greeted associates, customers, community partners and company leaders outside the store. Local dignitaries and elected officials were amongst those in the crowd as well to include Vice Mayor John Hart, Supervisor Brenda Ebron-Bonner, Supervisor Daniel Lee and Chairman Harrison Moody, all of which proudly shop this Food Lion store.
Bailey was pleased to present a check for 7,100 meals to Elaine from Feed More Food Bank. These meals will go to the store's partner feeding agency, Regenesis.
Sheriff Duck Adams was called to the podium to assist with the cutting of the ribbon. Least expected at this moment, Sheriff Adams shared a touching story of how this Food Lion store has impacted the Petersburg community.
"We had a well-known citizen of our community that was viciously murdered," Sherriff Adams recalled. "We called him the 'can man' because he walked all day and collected cans, he would come to this Food Lion store every day. When he died, the community came forward like I had never seen before. This store set up a dumpster here in the parking lot to collect canned goods and people from all over came and donated over $10,000 worth of canned goods in one week."
It was a very emotional day today; it's been a lot of hard work over the years," shared Assistant Manager Lani Stover.
Associates wrapped up the morning celebrations with Delony Spraggins, senior director of retail services, leading the group in signing Happy Birthday to a fellow associate over the store intercom. All around, there was much to celebrate at your local Petersburg Food Lion today.
"We go big or we go home"
After several months of shopping while their local Food Lion in Warsaw, Va., was undergoing construction, more than 100 customers excitingly stood in line despite the rainy morning, anxiously waiting to see what the remodel of their store looked like on Wednesday morning.
Before Store Manager Adam Weaver took to the podium to begin the ribbon cutting ceremony, the Rappahannock High School band kicked things off by playing the national anthem alongside the color guard, resulting in cheers and applause from the audience.
During the ceremony, Weaver thanked the customers for their patience and loyalty during construction as well as thanked the associates for their hard work to ensure the store was in perfect condition for the re-opening.
"At our store here, we go big or we go home, and we wanted to go big to make sure today and moving forward, our store is a success," Weaver told the crowd.
In addition to customers, local dignitaries arrived prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony to join in the celebration of the remodeled Food Lion store.
"Food Lion is our only grocery store in the town and it means a lot to the community" said Sarah Carroll, President of the Chamber. "The store is beautiful inside and we're all so excited to be here today."
To add to the morning's celebration, the Warsaw Food Lion donated 7,100 meals to the Northern Neck Food Bank, who were on hand to receive the donation, toward the overall commitment of providing over 500 million meals toward fighting hunger in the Greater Richmond area.
"We are very happy we can provide so many meals to Northern Neck, especially with the holidays coming up," Weaver added.
After the ceremony concluded, customers began to pile inside to see their remodeled store and shop.
"We shop at this Food Lion every day and love the changes in the store. We especially like the new signs, it helps make it easier to find everything!" exclaimed customers William and Lois Saunders. "We love Food Lion!"
"Rain didn't ruin our parade"
While it was pouring down rain on the morning of Oct. 11, it didn't rain on the grand opening parade for Ashland, Va., associates and customers as they officially celebrated the opening of their new store with a bang.
"I have received several comments from customers, who are so complimentary of our store," said Food Lion associate Dorothy Boggs. "We worked hard, sometimes 12 hours or more to get this store ready for today's celebration."
Despite the hard outside rain, dozens of customers lined up to hear what was new in their local store and to also be the first to receive a $10 Food Lion gift card and a blue, insulated shopping bag.
"I am so proud of all of my associates who helped to make today possible," said Store Manager Manny Derderian. "You make customer experiences possible every day, thank you for all that you do for Food Lion and our customers.
Derderian presented a representative with Hanover Friends Church with an oversized check representing 7,100 meals, which will be donated to the pantry later this month.
"I just wish you all could see the other end of how you are really impacting the Ashland community," she said. "This store truly is helping those in need."
Sean Davis, Vice Chair of the Henry District Councilman, urged everyone in the store to shop with Food Lion because of its importance in the community.
"Whether you are shopping for groceries, preparing snacks for a soccer game or preparing for a party, I think we should come to Food Lion to get what we need," Davis said. "This is a great day."
"A smile spreads"
Dozens of customers lined up to be a part of the grand opening of their newly remodeled local Food Lion store, with some showing up as early as 5:30 a.m. Customers were excited to see the new changes in their store and we thrilled about to receive $10 gift cards and a free insulated Food Lion shopping bag.
Store Manager David Hofe welcomed the crowd of customers and local dignitaries and introduced them to many of the new changes they could expect to see, including the easy-to-navigate store layout, product expansion and how bright and clean the new stores are. Hofe also called out his team of associates for all their hard work getting the store ready while still providing a personal shopping experience for all of their customers.
As part of the celebration, Hofe presented Word, Spirit & Life Ministries Food Pantry with a donation of 7,100 meals to help feed hungry families in the Chesterfield Community.
"We were so surprised by the donation of meals," said Louise Battle, co-chair of the pantry. "This is such a blessing, especially at this time of year."
Next, Hofe introduced local dignitaries who praised the new store.
"Food Lion is an asset to this community and a neighborhood store residents can count on," stated Virginia State Delegate Riley Ingram.
Finally, it was time to cut the ribbon and welcome customers to their new store. Longtime customer James Byrd was asked to help cut the ribbon. Mr. Byrd visits the store at least once per day if not more. When asked why he is so loyal to Food Lion, Byrd said, "I love the employees. They are so friendly. They smile and welcome me and it makes me smile as well."
"The store is convenient for me to get to and the prices are always affordable, which is important now that I am retired," Byrd added.
"Much more than a fresh new look"
In front of a crowd of cheery customers, community leaders and excited associates, store manager Crawford Lawson today reintroduced the Food Lion store located at 1100 Courthouse Road to its Richmond, Va., neighborhood.
Featuring a new walk-in garden cooler (one of 14 being tested in the market), an expanded selection of organic and gluten-free options and Nature's Place meat, poultry and pork, the store is far from just showcasing a new coat of paint.
"Every change we've made has been with our customers in mind," Lawson said.
With more local products and a revamped layout, the remodeled store is sure to bring some excitement to the community.
And, in keeping with Food Lion's commitment to give back to the towns and cities we serve, Lawson presented the food pantry at Crusade for Christ Ministries with a donation of 7,100 meals, which will be delivered just in time for the fast approaching busy holiday season. Through Food Lion Feeds, the grocer is committed to donating 500 million meals by 2020, and to help end hunger in our communities.
It was a wonderful day for all at today's ribbon cutting, and much excitement lies ahead for customers to celebrate their fresh new Food Lion!
"A bright future ahead"
You know you have achieved success when you cannot tell who is more excited, your customers or associates.
The first customer arrived at Food Lion Store 297 in Richmond, Va., for the store grand re-opening at 6:45 a.m., and by the time the ribbon was cut, there were more than 60 customers in line waiting to celebrate with their fresh new Food Lion and to receive a free tote bag and $10 gift card.
When Charmaine, a regular customer, was asked why she chose to shop Food Lion over the local competition she replied, "I enjoy the prices and friendly faces. Someone is always available to help me when I cannot find something, and in fact, just this morning, an associate walked over to me to find the product I needed Now that is service."
The large crowded applauded as store manager, Darrell Thrower, presented checks to two local feeding agencies each representing a donation of 33,500 meals. Mt. Olive Baptist Church and Meadowood Church of God were on hand to accept the checks and were overwhelmed with Food Lion's generosity.
As the morning celebration concluded Thrower summed it up by saying, "It is a very blessed day for me and my team.
We are so humbled and honored to be a part of a best-in-class organization. We love being a part of this store team and the Food Lion family and are looking forward to a bright future."
Glen Allen, Va.
"Getting an upgrade and giving back"
At Food Lion's Glen Allen, Va., Food Lion store this morning, Store Manager Jasmina Dokic shared with on looking associates and customers the new changes made to her store, which has drawn in shoppers from around the local community.
Customers commented on the new ease of shop, as well as expanded assortment, such as deli enhancements like "grab & go" items and other specialties.
In attendance was State Senator Siobhan Dunnavant and Randy R. Silber, deputy county manager for community development, who also commented not only on Food Lion's $110 million investment in the greater Richmond, Va., market, but also for its philanthropic efforts.
Particularly noteworthy was Food Lion's partnership with local feeding agency Little Sisters of the Poor, who were awarded the equivalent of 7,100 meals during the cerebration. Representatives from the organization were on hand to receive the donation and were extremely complimentary of Food Lion's efforts to feed the hungry and raved about the support Food Lion provides in making sure no one goes hungry.
As ribbon was cut, the first 100 customers were welcomed into their fresh new Food Lion with $10 gift cards and thermal tote bags.
To keep up with the latest news at Food Lion, check back here on our Lion's Tale blog, or follow us on Twitter @FoodLionnews!