Hundreds turn out for grand opening of Food Lion in Cleveland

Town of nearly 900 now has its own grocery store again
In the town of Cleveland in Rowan Co., N.C., the only grocery store in town closed a month ago. Today, Food Lion opened in that same location.
Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 10:58 AM EDT
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CLEVELAND, N.C. (WBTV) - The Rowan County town of Cleveland was without its own grocery store for about a month. Residents said they had to drive to Salisbury, Statesville, or Mooresville to buy groceries. That all changed at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday when a new Food Lion store opened in the Third Creek Marketplace.

“The importance is that the food is here for our whole community and other people outside, but it’s easier, instead of going to Statesville or Salisbury nearby, it’s right in our backyard and I’m about 8 minutes away from Food Lion and I’m grateful that they are here and I appreciate that they are here,” said Joanne Schermerhorn, the first person in line at 3:42 a.m.

The new Food Lion, said to be the second smallest of all Food Lion stores, was placed where the IGA grocery store had been. IGA closed approximately one month ago and Food Lion acted quickly to make changes inside the store and get it ready for the opening.

“I think this is the best and most wonderful thing for our community when IGA came I’m sorry they’re gone, but I am so thankful that Food Lion is here,” said Sue White.

Without its own grocery store, Cleveland became like a “food desert,” meaning that it was an area with limited access to affordable and nutritious food.

“For the past month that’s what we’ve had,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Travis Summitt. “Obviously the Dollar General can fill some of that void, but not like Food Lion.”

“I think because it’s the only grocery store in Cleveland, it’s amazing the reaction that we’ve gotten,” said store manager Robert Jackson. Jackson is a Rowan County native who has worked for Food Lion for more than twenty years.

Customers packed the store on Wednesday. Food Lion handed out gift cards and reusable shopping bags to the first 100 customers.

Jackson says the store employs “about 50″ workers. He says Food Lion will also be a community partner with organizations in Cleveland like the elementary school and fire department.