Photo: part two, Flickr
"You tear it up, put it in soil and it grows," Phillips-Brown says.
Food Lion is counting on its green grocery in Columbia, S.C., to blossom, too. The store -- the first supermarket in the state built according to LEED Silver Certification standards -- is a major element in Food Lion's ongoing attempt to rehabilitate its image.
"Certainly we want to serve our customers," Philips-Brown says of the project. "But it's more about being a good corporate citizen."
Founded as Food Town in 1957, Food Lion grew from a one-store operation in Salisbury, N.C., to a 1,200-store regional empire. Its growth was rooted in an aggressive cost-cutting strategy that produced the "lowest food prices," according to a slogan that a court commanded the chain to stop using.
The slogan skirmish wasn't the last time Food Lion landed in court: The company lost a suit against ABC in connection with a notorious 1992 Primetime Live special showing Food Lion staffers selling rotten meat, and in 1993 paid $16.2 million to settle claims relating to alleged overtime, minimum wage and child-labor-law violations. The fallout from the highly publicized incidents led to the closing of nearly 100 Food Lion stores.
Food Lion is now working to position itself as the Southeast's leading sustainable supermarket chain, presenting its new store as evidence of its commitment. According to Phillips-Brown, the store's innovative design reduces energy consumption by 20 percent and water use by 40 percent.
Its more obvious amenities include bike racks, lights that dim when the sun is shining, a wide selection of natural and organic products, an extensive on-site recycling center and environmental-education kiosks.
But Phillips-Brown says customers are especially interested in the restroom partitions, which were constructed from recycled juice, milk and water bottles.
"We've had many customers coming to check out the bathroom," she says.