Thursday, February 2, 2012

Drive-thru grocery opening soon in Charlotte

Swiss Farms, a drive-thru grocery and convenience store, is building a store on Sardis Road in South Charlotte, and the owner plans up to a dozen more for the area.

The company is based in Pennsylvania, and this store will be the first Swiss Farms in Charlotte. In fact, except for one store in New Jersey, the Charlotte store is the first outside of Pennsylvania.


Located at 1431 Sardis Road North, near Sardis and Monroe Road, the store is being built by Choate Construction. It will be open in March. Swiss Farms will carry staples such as milk, juice, eggs, bread and butter, along with other grocery items, fresh coffee, beer, wine and prepared meals.

Owner Mike Lang said the store will stock about 800 items. That's far fewer than a store like Harris Teeter, which can carry around 40,000, but Lang said Swiss Farms concentrates on the most common items in the most common sizes. Fill-in trips for groceries or dinner on the drive home from work drive a large part of the business, Lang said.

Here's how it works. Customers pull up to one of the store's doors, where they're greeted by a clerk. "You pull up, say I need a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, a pound of bacon, whatever you need," he said. The person collects your items, bags them, brings them out to you, takes your payment, and you're done.

Transaction times average about one minute, Lang said. Customers, on average, come to the store about 2 1/2 times a week, he said.

Lang has lived in Charlotte with his wife for about seven years, and his three children attend school here. After working for years in "the corporate life," Lang, who used to own a wireless technology company, said he wanted to find a business he could run here.

With the rights to open Swiss Farms franchises in the Charlotte market, Lang said he hopes to open more stores soon, at a pace of two a year. The next location he plans will be in Lake Norman, said Lang. You can follow the new store's progress on Facebook here.



View Larger Map


Photos courtesy Doug Smith

29 comments:

Bono said...

Ely, great job once again on getting the scoops!
I remember having a store just like this one back in the mid '70's in my Hometown, and it was the coolest thing. In fact the lines were particularly long on inclement weather days, or during late night hours.

I certainly do hope the location is ideal, although I do wonder if an area like Ballantyne would have been more suitable. We will see in time.

Once again Ely, keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

ridiculous. how about pulling up, asking for 'one of everything' and then seeing if it takes 'an average of 1 minute' for the transaction.

Toby said...

Lame and hideous suburban sprawl.

Anonymous said...

Will they accept Food Stamps?

Bill said...

Laziest country in the world.

Anonymous said...

The Amish are coming! The Amish are coming!

TOM said...

That will help me, I'm usually too drunk to walk by the time I get to the grocery store. My prayers have been answered!!!!!

Anonymous said...

"ridiculous. how about pulling up, asking for 'one of everything' and then seeing if it takes 'an average of 1 minute' for the transaction."
It's ridiculous to even suggest it...

Anonymous said...

"Lame and hideous suburban sprawl."
Shouldtn't that reduce sprawl, since less parking is needed?

Anonymous said...

"Laziest country in the world."
So bil what is your excuse for being here?

Anonymous said...

"Will they accept Food Stamps?
- Who cares.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing is..while this idea came from Amish country the company has all it's stores in Suburban Philly. There's nothing Amish about that. Like someone else said, it's pure laziness unless it's 3am and you are worried about your safety.

Also, this is old news. Fox Charlotte broke this story 2 weeks ago.

PJ said...

I question the site where the store will be located. It is right behind a Circle K on Monroe at Sardis Road North. It is across the street from a Food Lion and a Harris Teeter. It's a block from a Wal-Mart Super store. I wish the owner the best of luck, but I question the location especially since it is not on a primary road, like Monroe Road. As one who lives in the area and passes the store every day, I hope we will not be looking at another failed empty box store within the year. I know we won't be customers - we need the exercise by walking into a store.

Anonymous said...

I lived in the Philly area prior to moving to Charlotte and these stores are everywhere. They are nice if you just need a couple of things and don't feel like fight through the parking lots of the grocery stores. They make a great store brand ice tea and hopefully they will sell Tasty Cakes.

Anonymous said...

toby....it's an infill site @ Sardis & Monroe. Not sure what you mean by sprawl, but then again, everyone's an expert these days.

Anonymous said...

When I lived in Fla., there was a concept like this called Farm Stores, and it was pretty popular, having stores located in all different sections of the city. This should go over in Charlotte too, but already hate that it's first target locations are catering to upper middle class, not in areas likely to be traveled through or lived in by the "average Joe."

WashuOtaku said...

This will probably do well... local grocery stores like Harris Teeter already do this, accept this is better since you don't need to pre-order.

Thanks again Ely for the scoop.

Anonymous said...

Just like Dairy Barn out of Long Island, NY.

Anonymous said...

Woo hoo! It's a brew thru just like in Ohio.

Anonymous said...

"already hate that it's first target locations are catering to upper middle class, not in areas likely to be traveled through or lived in by the "average Joe."
- Oh lord... class haters. Monroe Rd isn't traveled by the average Joe??? Seriously? it is a state highway... That location isn't upper middle class by any means. It is common middle class. There is a Food Lion right there. And Sardis woods is te closest neighborhood. Houses are $150k
But anyway businesses are only suppposed to cater to the average joe. I forgot...

Anonymous said...

"Funny thing is..while this idea came from Amish country the company has all it's stores in Suburban Philly. There's nothing Amish about that."
- Who cares where the concept comes from. It made money. It wasn't an Amish-owned business. My thinking is that if it works in the fairly rural area of Lancaster, PA that has a large Mennonite population, it will likely be even more successful where there is no Mennonite population and greater population density.

Mike Lang said...

Please allow me to join the conversation. It was very nice of Ely to call me and interview me about my new store. We are very excited to launch our new store on Sardis Rd. North in Charlotte. We feel this is an excellent location. Historically, locations off the hard corner are best for Swiss Farms. Easy access during the "drive-home" time of day. Let me share a few quick facts...
Open 6am to 10pm - 365
Yes, we accept food stamps.
Yes, we will carry Tasty Cakes.
Yes, we will carry our extensive line-up of award winning ice teas.
Yes, we will carry beer & wine.
And yes, if you live close by you can walk over and get your swiss-fix. I'd love to meet you.

Cheers,
Mike Lang (The Head Milkman)

Anonymous said...

Best of luck but I also wonder about the location. Seems like an odd choice.

Anonymous said...

Swiss Farm Stores are a proven, well run solution for anyone who also appreciates the convenience of an ATM, drive-thru coffee, pharmacy pick-up windows or any other option that doesn't require hauling kids or yourself out of the car to run a quick errand. I don't know of anyone who has been to a Swiss Farm Store in PA who is not genuinely excited to see this long overdue expansion here. Welcome, Welcome, Welcome!

Anonymous said...

I worked for both the Swiss Farms in Brookhaven, Pennsylvania and Springfield, PA. It's a great concept but has become less convenient with the larger variety of items they carry. They used to carry the basics, now the extensive product line gives the customers too much opportunity to change their mind and hold up the line. Swiss Farms was never designed to replace supermarkets, it was a quick way of picking up Milk, Bread, Eggs and the Sunday paper.

Nonetheless, if they carry Tea Cooler and Herr's potato chips I will be excited.

Reese said...

I LOVE this concept. As a mother of 2 young kids, this is such a lifesaver for when you are out and about and remember the 2-3 things you need at home but do not want to have to go through the motions of getting both babies out of the car, bundled up and inside to shop. I'm hoping that one of these pops up around the Ballantyne area!

Panix said...

It’s funny to see people comment on how lazy we have become. People forget that long ago, you would go into a store, hand a clerk your shopping list, and wait on the order to be filled. It was the Piggly Wiggly, and A&P that introduced us to self service grocery shopping.
As for the article, it’s the second outside PA, and it is not a new concept, just a twist on the old general store. I’ve shopped at similar stores in west Texas when I didn’t want to wait in line at H.E.B.

Anonymous said...

I CAN NOT WAIT FOR IT TO OPEN..GREAT FOR DRIVE HOME FROM DOCTOR'S OFFICE WHEN YOU OR KIDS ARE SICK. HOW ARE THE PRICES ? IT IS NOT ALL UPPER MIDDLE CLASS AREA ANY MORE FOLKS.

WELCOME AND THE BEST OF LUCK TO YOU

Anonymous said...

For those that are knocking this idea, it's apparent that you've never had kids in tow when you only needed a few staple items and didn't want to go into a grocery store with hungry tired kids or infants. Wow, get over it! If you don't like the idea, don't go there. I don't have a need for the local cigar shop but if it has a market, then good for the owners!