When you ask most kids where they want to have their birthday party, they might tell you they want to have it at home, at a kid-friendly restaurant or perhaps even a theme-park.
But 7-year-old Molly Swearingen's response may surprise you.
"I wanted to have my birthday party at Food Lion," the girl said by phone. "I like all the fresh food and the people are friendly, especially the meat man."
She affectionately calls Tim Roop, meat cutter at Food Lion Store 2560 the "meat man," because he always speaks to Molly and her mother, Carol, when they shop. Tim has worked at that location for 27 years.
Store Manager Dan Cole helped the Swearingens set up Molly's party recently, which was held in the store's break room. The party included fresh strawberries and milk for the nine guests Molly invited, along with their families and complete with a fun-filled game of "pin the tail on the lion."
Cole said he and his associates always looks forward to Molly and her family shopping at their store, located on 7514 N. Point Road in Edgemere, Md.
"They feel like part of our family and we feel like she is one of us," Cole said.
Molly's mother considers Food Lion much more than just a grocery store. They see it as their second home.
"We have very small community and Food Lion is the one grocery store we have here, so we are in there a lot," Mrs. Swearingen said. "Molly knows where everything is in the store and is able to pick the items we need."
What's even more interesting is that when she shops at the store, Molly wears her special Food Lion uniform and hat, which is very similar to store associates.
"Molly dresses like we dress in uniform. We even gave her a name badge," the store manager said.
"Roaring Good Time"
Carol explained that the idea for Molly's birthday party unfolded while she was six, when Molly told her mom she would like to celebrate her next birthday party inside of Food Lion with her neighborhood friends and family. Once word got around to the store manager, he told Carol that if Molly was serious, he and his store team would work something out for her.
So, on Saturday, April 8, it happened. Associates helped transform the break room into "birthday party central," equipped with balloons, fresh products from Food Lion, and a blindfolded pin the tail on the lion game. They also had an adult-guided scavenger hunt through the store where parents took pictures of their kids with certain items listed for the hunt.
"It was just a great time, plus the parents got to do their grocery shopping on the same day!" Mrs. Swearingen said.
At Food Lion, our neighbors are more than just shoppers in our stores who stop in to pick up their groceries. Local families, just like Carol and Molly Swearingen, across our ten-state footprint are part of our Food Lion family, and we're proud of the opportunity we have to nourish and serve them every day.