Looking for a summary of NC grocery operators

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Brian Lutz
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Looking for a summary of NC grocery operators

Post by Brian Lutz »

My wife and I are in the process of selling our house with plans to move out of Washington. Due to my job now being East Coast based (Atlanta, but remote so we're not tied to that area, it seems likely that we will be relocating to somewhere in North Carolina. We haven't decided on a specific area yet, but I'd be interested to get a brief summary of the various stores that operate there. Aside from Walmart and Whole Foods I don't have much familiarity with any of them. It seems like there's a Food Lion in pretty much every single little town on the map (which would probably put them in a similar niche to Safeway in the PNW) but I see also see a number of Ingles stores in the areas I'm looking at, as well as scattered Publix, Aldi/Lidl and Harris-Teeter (Sort-of-but-not-really-Kroger) stores. Where we live now we do a lot of our shopping at WinCo, but as far as I can tell there isn't a similar operator in the Southeast.
storewanderer
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Re: Looking for a summary of NC grocery operators

Post by storewanderer »

Brian Lutz wrote: October 3rd, 2022, 1:37 pm My wife and I are in the process of selling our house with plans to move out of Washington. Due to my job now being East Coast based (Atlanta, but remote so we're not tied to that area, it seems likely that we will be relocating to somewhere in North Carolina. We haven't decided on a specific area yet, but I'd be interested to get a brief summary of the various stores that operate there. Aside from Walmart and Whole Foods I don't have much familiarity with any of them. It seems like there's a Food Lion in pretty much every single little town on the map (which would probably put them in a similar niche to Safeway in the PNW) but I see also see a number of Ingles stores in the areas I'm looking at, as well as scattered Publix, Aldi/Lidl and Harris-Teeter (Sort-of-but-not-really-Kroger) stores. Where we live now we do a lot of our shopping at WinCo, but as far as I can tell there isn't a similar operator in the Southeast.
Aldi/Lidl will be the closest thing to WinCo. You will probably really miss WinCo.

Food Lion isn't Safeway (it is cheaper, has far less fresh product, far less selection in general) by any stretch but Food Lion can sort of be okay.

Harris Teeter runs a very solid operation in NC, they are extremely well run with high quality products but you will pay for that.

Ingles sort of reminds me of a Safeway/Albertsons type of place. Prices aren't great. Perimeter isn't great but isn't bad either. Some nicer stores and some very dated ones.

I think there is another chain in NC called Lowe's Foods (green logo not to be confused with the TX/NM chain of the same name which is an entirely different animal) and some people seem to like them but I think they are quite awful (very high priced and lousy mix).

Publix just doesn't excite me. Wegman's hasn't done particularly well in NC from what I have heard, not clear what is going to happen there (probably just no more expansion for a while). Not sure exactly where you are going but you may be able to find a Kroger not too far away.

Winn Dixie used to have some Harveys but those seem to be gone. You're not missing anything.


Just working through the different product mix and brands in NC you will see vs. what you see in the Pacific Northwest will hold your interest for a while with all these different stores.
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Re: Looking for a summary of NC grocery operators

Post by BatteryMill »

storewanderer wrote: October 3rd, 2022, 9:16 pm Aldi/Lidl will be the closest thing to WinCo. You will probably really miss WinCo.

Food Lion isn't Safeway (it is cheaper, has far less fresh product, far less selection in general) by any stretch but Food Lion can sort of be okay.

Harris Teeter runs a very solid operation in NC, they are extremely well run with high quality products but you will pay for that.

Ingles sort of reminds me of a Safeway/Albertsons type of place. Prices aren't great. Perimeter isn't great but isn't bad either. Some nicer stores and some very dated ones.

I think there is another chain in NC called Lowe's Foods (green logo not to be confused with the TX/NM chain of the same name which is an entirely different animal) and some people seem to like them but I think they are quite awful (very high priced and lousy mix).

Publix just doesn't excite me. Wegman's hasn't done particularly well in NC from what I have heard, not clear what is going to happen there (probably just no more expansion for a while). Not sure exactly where you are going but you may be able to find a Kroger not too far away.

Winn Dixie used to have some Harveys but those seem to be gone. You're not missing anything.


Just working through the different product mix and brands in NC you will see vs. what you see in the Pacific Northwest will hold your interest for a while with all these different stores.
A few technical notes here.

Kroger is no longer present in North Carolina since The Kroger Co. shelved that brand in 2018 in favor of Harris Teeter once they merged. Most locales in NC aren't near any Krogers in surrounding states either, AFAIK.

I hope Wegmans does better once the Ashland, VA distribution center goes in.
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Re: Looking for a summary of NC grocery operators

Post by storewanderer »

BatteryMill wrote: October 3rd, 2022, 10:13 pm

A few technical notes here.

Kroger is no longer present in North Carolina since The Kroger Co. shelved that brand in 2018 in favor of Harris Teeter once they merged. Most locales in NC aren't near any Krogers in surrounding states either, AFAIK.

I hope Wegmans does better once the Ashland, VA distribution center goes in.
I notice there are some Krogers very close to borders but you are right they aren't near much.

I think Wegmans is losing some of its appeal, they have moved prepared foods to above-Whole Foods level prices that seem beyond outrageous to me, and I am hearing more and more people commenting on the lack of branded items in center store. I think Wegmans formula that works in NY may not work as well NC. Those NC Harris Teeters are really good... and Publix will be a tough competitor that will keep growing.
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Re: Looking for a summary of NC grocery operators

Post by buckguy »

You'll probably find a not great selection of deli, produce, or bakery items except at higher end chains and even there it can be disappointing, relative to elsewhere. The available produce in the Southeast generally seems pretty feeble and only a few places seem to have a tradition of farmer's market type operations. In Georgia, the farmstands tend to sell boiled peanuts which are better than they sound. The research triangle area, which is where people in tech tend to wind up will have the best selection of things and it has a foodie culture with award winning locally owned restaurants. It's an otherwise pretty characterless place with kudzu, strip malls, forgettable but familiar chains and surprisingly bad traffic. If you're there, you'll have much better shopping options than in Atlanta, which is surprisingly disappointing on many dimensions for a metro area its size---people I knew in retail felt that buyers generally had little faith in Atlanta customers. My own take on Harris-Teeter is that they're a place where things look better than they taste--I've been sick from their deli from multiple locations, but they're still better than most of their competition. Lowe's originated in relatives of the home improvement chain and has gone through cycles of expansion and contraction, and different "concepts" but somehow has stayed in business.
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Re: Looking for a summary of NC grocery operators

Post by Groceteria »

Also plenty of Walmart Neighborhood Markets, a few Sprouts, and Fresh Market (founded in NC). There are a couple of Super Target locations around Charlotte and Raleigh/Durham.

Agreed with @storewanderer on Ingles (mostly west of the Triad) and Lowes, which positions itself as "local" and "foodie" but doesn't have the mix to back it up and is pretty much just absurdly expensive. Harris Teeter is probably the best of the lot, though I shop a lot at Lidl and Aldi as well.
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Re: Looking for a summary of NC grocery operators

Post by storewanderer »

buckguy wrote: October 4th, 2022, 9:42 am My own take on Harris-Teeter is that they're a place where things look better than they taste--I've been sick from their deli from multiple locations, but they're still better than most of their competition.
I felt this way about Harris-Teeter in DC and Nashville, however in NC I found they did a much better job with prepared foods, both in mix and taste. Also keep in mind I walked into HT in NC with the experiences in DC and Nashville already logged so my expectations were low. My expectations were greatly exceeded, in store after store. And the amount of labor I saw them using in the prepared foods operation in NC was quite heavy, almost at a Whole Foods level in a couple of locations.
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Re: Looking for a summary of NC grocery operators

Post by storewanderer »

Groceteria wrote: October 4th, 2022, 10:04 am Also plenty of Walmart Neighborhood Markets, a few Sprouts, and Fresh Market (founded in NC). There are a couple of Super Target locations around Charlotte and Raleigh/Durham.

Agreed with @storewanderer on Ingles (mostly west of the Triad) and Lowes, which positions itself as "local" and "foodie" but doesn't have the mix to back it up and is pretty much just absurdly expensive. Harris Teeter is probably the best of the lot, though I shop a lot at Lidl and Aldi as well.
I forgot about The Fresh Market. Though very "boutique" they have (or had) some good perimeter offerings as well. I did find the items skewed toward a bit bland and though they sometimes ran some promotions that were good the regular pricing was very high.
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Re: Looking for a summary of NC grocery operators

Post by 1111072036 »

Food Lion - Basic store, selection is kind of lacking (and no dedicated meat counter) but decent prices, and most of the name brand items.

Harris Teeter - High priced store; but runs a lot of sales. Since the Kroger acquisition, it seems that stores have been more inconsistent.

Lowe’s Foods - Farmhouse themed interiors look a little garish, and their prices are usually higher than Harris Teeter, but their bakery is better than Teeter. They stick to suburban areas , and areas that Harris Teeter won’t touch. I don’t really shop them much.

Publix - Same general price points as Harris Teeter and Lowe’s. Generally runs BOGO sales often. Deli and Bakery are high points, as is customer service but not much else sets them apart from Teeter and Lowe’s.

Ingles - Perhaps the closest thing you’ll find to mid-market stores like Kroger and Albertsons. They generally stay on the western side of the state.

Piggly Wiggly/Carlie-C’s IGA - Both are different operators, but these are the podunk southern stores Grandma would shop at; Generally unaffected by stores like Publix and Teeter. They usually stick to the eastern half of the state.

Wegmans - Stores are large, but not as large as their locations in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. They have extensive perishable selection, but I find their selection of shelf-stable goods to be lacking for a store of that size, tbh.

Fresh Market - Essentially Wegmans Pershables in a Food Lion sized store. Targets the upscale crowd.
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Re: Looking for a summary of NC grocery operators

Post by Brian Lutz »

We are now under contract on a house a bit north of Greensboro. The location is a bit on the rural side, but it looks like the the closest store to the house will be a Lowes, with a Food Lion, Walmart Supercenter and a Harris Teeter a bit further away. I suspect we will miss having a WinCo nearby, but it's a much larger house than our last one so we might be able to make more use of Costco and do less frequent larger shopping trips.
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