Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Food Lion co-founder dies

Wilson Smith, one of the three men who founded the Food Town chain that would grow into Food Lion, died Wednesday morning, according to local media in Salisbury. He was 93.

Along with brothers Ralph and Brown Ketner, Smith helped found the first Food Town in Salisbury in 1957. The three solicited $10-a-share investments from their friends and families to get the business off the ground.

The company chugged along as a neighborhood grocery store, until Ralph Ketner decided to try what was, at the time, a new retail strategy: slash prices on everything and try to move heavy volume quickly. The store began growing, and the co-founders changed the name to Food Lion.

When Smith retired from the company as vice president in 1979, Food Lion had about 100 stores. Since then, under the ownership of Belgian mega-grocer Delhaize Group, Food Lion has grown to about 1,300 stores. Brown Ketner died in the early 1990s, shortly after Ralph Ketner, who is still alive and lives in Salisbury, retired from the chain.

16 comments:

Wiley Coyote said...

...."five fast pennies instead of one slow nickel"...

RIP

Susan said...

Wish we had a photo of the co-founder instead of the writer.

Anonymous said...

Well! You don't have to look so happy that a man has died.

Anonymous said...

Why is this even news??

Wiley Coyote said...

ANON 7:50...

It's news because the founders of Food Lion helped set in motion the low food prices in the Mid Atlantic and Southeast you enjoy today, regardless of where you shop...

Mista Accurate said...

Anon 7:50

Why did you apparently take the time to read the article? Wiley said it best: even if you don't shop at Food Lion, your groceries are still lower because of them.

Terry said...

My parents lived next door to the Smiths for a number of years amd I would see them when we visited. They were the kindest people on earth and so kind to our children.
Susan the photo you want is on the home page of the Salisbury Post:
http://www.salisburypost.com/News/042011-WEB-wilson-smith-dies-qcd

Bruce Dills said...

My first job was with Food Town, store #36. When it opened in Gastonia in 1976...as I was lucky enough to join the ranks of Food Town. I was, 16. The day before the opening Mr Ketner came by to check it out. Us bag boys lined up for inspection..like we were in boot camp. I learned two important behaviors that day, 1) Don't stand there with your hands in your pockets and 2)No matter a persons age, you refer to them as yes Sir, out of respect.

Anonymous said...

The name was changed from Food Town to Food Lion, due to the fact that they expanded into Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, where Food City was already established. They did not want the two to be confused, so since they had an imagae of a Lion in their logo, they changed the name to Food Lion.

Anonymous said...

Food Town became Food Lion AFTER being bought by Delhaize. Check out the website for Delhaize (known as Delhaize Le Lion). You will see that the lion logo is identical.

http://www.delhaizegroup.com/en/Home.aspx

Anonymous said...

Who remembers the Food Lion rap?

Extra, extra read all about it. Food Lion's got it, they is no doubt about it. Extra fresh, extra clean.....

Anonymous said...

WHO CARES ABOUT ABOUT HIS PIC HAVE YOU GAZED ABOUT ELY'S? HES THE ONLY REASON I READ THIS BIRDCAGE LINER

Anonymous said...

Anonumous 12:03, you are wrong. It was Food Lion long before Delhaize bought them.

Anonymous said...

Sorry...meant Anonymous

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous@7:48AM

YES!! I remember the rap song commercial. Definitely old school.

Brent said...

Great American success story, and as noted above a company (past problems notwithstanding) which helped lower grocery prices throughout the region.