When you walk into the popular Harris Teeter at Park Road Shopping Center, you’ll feel like you’re in a brand-new store. After a year of extensive renovations, the grocer reopens Wednesday at 8 a.m.
Zoom out: Harris Teeter is Charlotte’s dominant grocery store. It’s a homegrown company, too, with corporate offices in Matthews — though Kroger acquired the company in 2014. Like other grocers in recent years, Harris Teeter has invested in its stores across the region as grocery competition from companies like Publix, Whole Foods and Food Lion intensifies.
These investments come in a range of forms at its new and renovated stores, from the addition of gas stations at some locations (like the one in University City) to the inclusion of a Starbucks at others (like the one in South End).
At the renovated Park Road Shopping Center store, you’ll now find:
- A new wine and beer bar with 12 taps.
- An expanded and redesigned produce section.
- Eight new self-checkout kiosks.
- New prepared food sections offering house-made pizza, burgers, sushi and sandwiches.
- Modernized store signage, flooring, food cases and counters.
Context: The Park Road Shopping Center store is 34,000 square feet, much smaller than many of Harris Teeter’s newer stores. It doesn’t have a number of the features that its new ones new, either, like a Starbucks, pharmacy, or Express Lanes. Still, the fresh amenities the grocer added are aimed at luring in shoppers who have plenty of other options in Charlotte.
“The Park Road Shopping Center location is a unique and beloved part of Harris Teeter’s Charlotte legacy. We opened the store in 1984, and we have seen first-hand the growth and vibrancy of the neighborhood over the last several decades,” spokeswoman Danna Robinson said.
To celebrate the grand opening, from Jan. 13-19, Harris Teeter is giving every 100th VIC card customer an instant coupon valid for free groceries in the amount of their transaction, up to $500. This deal is only valid at the Park Road Shopping Center store.
State of play: Other grocery stores have also undertaken renovations as a way to give themselves an edge in Charlotte’s cutthroat grocery wars. And like Harris Teeter, they’re also expanding locally.
- Food Lion in 2016 spent $215 million to renovate all of its supermarkets in the Charlotte area with upgrades like new store layouts and expanded produce sections. Food Lion also last year bought 62 former Bi-Lo stores, including three in the Charlotte area, and will convert them into Food Lions.
- Aldi last year opened three stores in the Charlotte area: in Gastonia, Cornelius, and Indian Land, the Observer reports. The German grocer recently spent $1.3 billion on an aggressive plan to renovate and expand all of its 1,300 stores nationwide.
On top of that, a growing number of out-of-town grocery operators have opened up their first stores in Charlotte in recent years, drawn in by the city’s rapid growth.
- Sprouts, based in Arizona, opened its first Charlotte store in 2018 in Ballantyne.
- Lidl, a German grocer, entered the local market in 2017. It has four new Charlotte stores planned, including at Carmel Commons, on Mallard Creek Church Road, on South Boulevard, and in Steele Creek, property records show.
- Publix opened its first North Carolina store in 2014 in Ballantyne and has been adding locations rapidly since then. The Florida grocer has stores planned in areas like Uptown, SouthPark, and south Charlotte.
Yes, but: Charlotte’s grocery competition may be fierce in some parts of town, but it’s completely lacking in other parts. In areas like west Charlotte, for instance, there are miles-long stretches with no options for fresh groceries. [Go deeper]
- In Charlotte, grocery deserts are often found in majority Black and Latino neighborhoods.
- City and county officials have said that eliminating Charlotte’s food deserts is a way to help improve economic mobility.
Here’s a look around the renovated Harris Teeter. (Note: We took a tour before many of the shelves and cases had been stocked with fresh food).
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the year of Sprouts’ arrival in North Carolina (the grocer first opened in Raleigh in 2017; it opened in Charlotte in 2018).
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