At some of Lowes Foods' remodeled locations, each chicken that comes out of the rotisserie oven is celebrated by staff doing the Chicken Dance.
An automated giant chicken chandelier indicates a dance is starting. A giant chicken mascot also visits stores from time to time and joins in. The spectacle highlights the wide variety of prepared chicken offered, including wings, and fried and fresh-roasted chicken found in the "Chicken Kitchen" section.
Another highlight of the remodeled locations is SausageWorks, where shoppers interact with the "resident lunatic," formally known as the "Sausage Professor," in a laboratory-like setting. Lowes' marketing copy reads, "He's ready to entertain your family and answer all your questions about his latest and greatest creations. With waves of glorious steam rising from the grill, the Sausage Professor never stops dreaming up mind-bending, taste-bud-tantalizing sausage recipes."
SausageWorks showcases more than 20 flavors of sausage, including cheeseburger, bourbon and sweet tea varieties.
Other sections include Pick & Prep where associates dice and slice fruits or vegetables for shoppers; a Community Table for sampling and getting advice from local chefs and other experts; The Beer Den, where customers sample and learn about local draft beers; and the Cakery, where all the cakes are square and kids can blow out birthday candles.
The store is the inspiration of branding expert Martin Lindstrom, who hired writers from Walt Disney to create a storyline throughout the store. According to CNBC, Mr. Lindstrom feels stores have to play up sensory experiences and local connections since online stores are winning on price and volume.
"It's really about finding a connection with the guest. To have them come back and say, 'Oh my gosh, I had so much fun here in your store,'" Kate Allred, a store manager its Clemmons, NC-location, told CNBC
Beyond the interaction and spectacle, the renovated stores play up local — from products to recipes and décor. Checkout aisles are named for local streets.
"There are a lot of people that try to come in and say they're local, but they are owned by folks in other states," Tim Lowe, president of Lowes Foods, told the Washington Times. "They're owned by companies overseas."
The renovations — six have been done so far — have led to a 23 percent hike in transaction volume in the first half of the year, but also caused a 30 percent turnover in Lowes' executive team because of the changes, according to CNBC. The changes have also made the hiring of arts and theater majors more acceptable.
What grade would you give Lowes Foods for having its staff do the "chicken dance" inside a supermarket?