The first central Charlotte Bloom store is set to open at 8 a.m. on March 17, after nearly a year of renovations to overhaul the former Bi-Lo at 2226 Park Road in Dilworth. Customers can also visit during a "Shop Happy Hour" preview, 5-7 p.m. on March 16, with product sampling, wine and cheese. The store will also be giving away free hot dogs from Wednesday through Saturday, with a charitable donation suggested. Regular hours are 6 a.m. to midnight.
The 44,500-square-foot store opened as a Kroger in 1982 and converted to Bi-Lo in the late 1980s. By the time it closed last April, it hadn’t been renovated in years and had begun to look timeworn. Since then, however, the space has been gutted and remodeled, and the parking lot resurfaced, with new landscaping.
Bloom is Salisbury-based Food Lion’s upscale, tech-savvy concept, and the Dilworth store will be the ninth area location, employing about 90 people. The store will have a drive-through pharmacy, full floral shop, dedicated gluten-free section, expanded assortment of wine, beer and specialty cheese, a soup and salad bar and more than 3,000 organic and natural items, spokeswoman Christy Phillips-Brown said. It also will sell fresh-cut meats and seafood, and Dietz & Watson deli products and fresh-made sandwiches.
Beyond that, the Bloom will provide new grocery competition for Harris Teeter, which has essentially had the Dilworth-Freedom Park area to itself since Bi-Lo closed, with stores on East Boulevard and at Park Road Shopping Center. It'll be interesting to see what pans out, and if residents give it a try.
Meanwhile, Bi-Lo continues to shrink its local presence: The chain, based outside of Greenville, S.C., ranks fourth in market share by sales in Charlotte and is in the process of closing two stores here. One, on Little Rock Road, shut last month, and another, on Independence Boulevard in Indian Trail, is slated to close Saturday. The company remains in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but in a press release said the store closures - which affect seven locations chainwide - are unrelated to that and but are rather part of its regular review of store profitability. Some of the stores are nearing the end of their current lease agreements and the company decided not to renew them, which was also my understanding of what happened with the Dilworth space.
Note: Though Bloom is owned by Food Lion, you can't use Food Lion's MVP loyalty card there - instead, shoppers must sign up for Bloom's Breeze card to obtain discounts, Phillips-Brown said.
Update, March 15: Below are photos of the store from a preview tour this afternoon, as workers busied themselves stocking shelves and setting up. For anyone familiar with the old Bi-Lo, it's quite a change, and the layout far different, with produce on the right-hand side of the store and non-food and pharmacy items on the left. The store is decorated in muted hues and has wooden floors in several areas, such as produce, below.
Below: The store will have four 37-inch flat-screen, touch-screen monitors that provide information about the store and the products it sells. Customers can scan packages of meat to bring up a list of recipes that include that item, and can print out recipes at the kiosk.
The store includes an expanded wine and cheese section.
There's also a dedicated gluten-free section.
And a drive-through pharmacy: