- Special Sections
- Public Notices
SUNSET BEACH—Employees at the Piggly Wiggly store on N.C. 904 were surprised when store officials told them last week the store is closing at 5 p.m. this Saturday, April 26.
Customers were equally dismayed upon hearing the news.
“I’m very surprised, since they’ve only been here a short time,” said Sunset Beach resident Pam Groce, who sensed something was amiss when she saw empty shelves while shopping at the store Monday.
“There was no milk, no bread, no meat,” Groce said.
The Charleston, S.C.-based store is emptying its inventory, some of it at reduced prices, and is not restocking in the wake of the scheduled closure.
Lowes Foods will be moving into the 38,000-square-foot anchor space in the Sunset Commons shopping center where Piggly Wiggly opened less than two years ago, on May 26, 2006, at the corner of N.C. 904 and Old Georgetown Road.
“They’re closing so that Lowes Foods can take over,” said Larry Cheek, leasing broker for the center.
David Schools, president of Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co. headquartered in Charleston, said the decision to close his franchise’s first North Carolina supermarket is pretty simple.
“The growth we projected for that area just simply did not come,” Schools said Tuesday. “We think it will be a successful location. We just had the opportunity sell this to a competitor and decided to take advantage.”
Schools said one of the stipulations Piggly Wiggly made with Lowes Foods was that it would offer the store’s 45-50 employees an opportunity to continue working for Lowes.
Schools said Piggly Wiggly’s managers will be offered positions elsewhere in the franchise.
Dianne Blancato with Winston-Salem-based Lowes Foods said Tuesday Lowes will take possession of the space April 30 and will remain closed for a couple of weeks for renovation. May 16 is the targeted reopening date for the supermarket.
She said Lowes plans to hire back all or any Piggly Wiggly employees who are interested in continuing employment with Lowes.
“We are [hiring] and inviting everyone to apply for a position with Lowes Foods if they would like to work for us,” she said. “If they become employees of Lowes Foods, they’ll have access to all the benefits that we offer as a company.”
Blancato said plans also are still in the works to open a new 42,000-square-foot Lowes Foods on the corner of N.C. 179 and Ocean Isle Beach Road, within just a few miles of the Sunset Commons location. The Ocean Isle store is scheduled to open in May 2009.
The county’s first Starbucks Coffee shop inside the Piggly Wiggly store is scheduled to close this Thursday.
In its place, Blancato said Lowes plans to have a Seattle’s Best Coffee shop.
She said other planned changes include a bakery renovation where organic gourmet breads and specialty cakes will be available.
The store will also offer extensive wine and beer selections, natural and gourmet specialty items, and Lowes Foods To Go, Blancato said.
“So it’ll be a full-service Lowes Foods,” she said.
In recent months, three other businesses have closed in the center. Nine other retail stores, restaurants and service-oriented businesses are located in the center.
Cheek pointed out Waccamaw Bank and a Kangaroo store recently located in new, separate outparcel buildings at the site. He said potential tenants are eyeing vacant space.
“We’ve got a lot in the works with new tenants looking to come on board,” Cheek said.
Tammy Hartsell, owner of Remedy Shop Pharmacy in Sunset Commons, said business has been fair at her independently owned pharmacy.
“We’d like to see more, and get the people in who live here,” she said.
Bill Dowd, owner of Bagels and Sandwedges, said he opened his eatery in the center last Thanksgiving. As the tourist season heats up, he said business is picking up, too.
“We all cried that the Pig is gone,” Dowd said Monday. “But we’re happy Lowes is coming.”