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Grocery store chains compete for supremacy

You may not be thinking of the English scientist Charles Darwin when you go grocery shopping, but his theory of evolution is very much at work there.

“No one feels like they can stay the same and survive,” John Brasier said.

Brasier writes for the Triad Business Journal and has been covering what can only be accurately described as “The Grocery Wars.”

For a few years, now, it seems everyone has either gotten into the grocery game (think: Walmart; Target; Walgreen’s; Sheetz) or upped their game in it.

And that’s just fine for Tim Lowe, president of Lowe’s Foods.

“If you go back and look at the Fortune 500 companies that were around in the 1950s, how many of them are still exist today? It's not a lot.” Lowe said.

That’s at the heart of what’s going on in that industry. The more service-oriented chains -- Publix, Lowe’s and Harris Teeter -- are all bringing in amenities that no one imagined being parts of grocery stores just a few years ago. Lowe says most of it, for his company, comes from their customers and neighbors.

“We went into people's homes and sat down and asked them, 'What do you want in a grocery store, what are you looking for?'” Lowe said. “And we took that information, brought it back together and came up with our new concepts that we're bringing to our markets today.”

“Lowe's, in particular, is targeting community involvement -- you know, sponsoring ball teams, having different activities in their store,” Brasier said. “They want to become more a part of the community, whereas Aldi's, Lidl and Walmart, they're there to give you the best prices.”

Publix, based in Florida but with hundreds of stores all over the Southeast, is the newcomer to the game.

“We’re looking at population density and growth -- is there revitalization happening, is growth happening and is there really enough business to support a store?” Publix representative Kim Reynolds said.

And the new guy isn’t afraid of a good, friendly competition.

“You know, competition is really good for the consumer,” Reynolds said. “It makes all retailers in the market really just step up their game in the way of services and price so the consumer really wins at the end of the day.”

Go inside the Grocery Wars in this edition of the Buckley Report.