Four customers who use their MVP cards while shopping at Food Lion on Tuesday, Dec. 12, could save 60 percent instantly on their groceries.
The North Carolina company will be giving away discounts and $10 gift cards to customers who correctly answer trivia questions in celebration of its 60th anniversary. A time capsule ceremony at the company’s corporate headquarters in Salisbury will feature mementos from across 10 Southeastern states.
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“It is an honor to celebrate 60 years of low prices, fresh products and community involvement with our company today,” Food Lion President Meg Ham said. “The reason Food Lion is still a proud partner in each of the towns and cities we serve is a strong testament to our loyal customers, who choose to shop with us, and to each of our associates, who take pride in serving them and showing them how much we care every day.”
The focus on customers started with the company’s founding in the 1950s, when Wilson Smith and brothers Brown and Ralph Ketner called every name in the Salisbury phone book, offering shares of the company for $10 each, to raise the money for their first grocery store.
That $125,000 investment launched Food Town – then one of the area’s largest supermarkets – on Dec. 12, 1957. As a price war with its competitors followed, the new grocer turned to customer loyalty cards, giveaways and other marketing programs to stay afloat. The first decade was tough, Ralph Ketner said in the company’s 60th anniversary book “A Neighbor to Count On,” but by 1967, they had seven stores and $5.9 million in annual sales.
Food Town soon was trading on the NASDAQ Stock Market, and in 1974, Belgian grocer Delhaize “Le Lion” invested in the company. A lion was added to its logo, and in 1983, the company officially became Food Lion – in large part to avoid confusion with a grocery chain already serving Virginia and South Carolina.
The company now employs more than 63,000 people in 1,031 stores.
The anniversary celebration started earlier this year with community-based events, officials said, including The Great Pantry Makeover that remodeled and restocked 60 food pantries in September. The event, in its third year, included over 2.5 million donated meals and 2,000 volunteer hours.
Company officials and employees also joined together in September to set a Guinness World Records title for the most bagged lunches assembled in one hour. The 10,320 lunches were bagged and donated to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and Feeding America Southwest Virginia for distribution to local schools and others in Hot Springs, Virginia.