Aug. 25--German grocer Lidl, one of the biggest supermarket chains in the world, is vetting Clayton as one of its first forays into the U.S. market.
For more than a year, the company has been scouring the East Coast, from New Jersey to South Carolina, making a number of store announcements, though it has yet to hold a ribbon cutting.
A Lidl distribution center is under construction in Mebane, and the company has said Charlotte and Cary will be among its first North Carolina stores; now add Clayton to the mix.
The company has yet to make any formal announcement or submit any application to Clayton's planning department, but it did commission a traffic study for the U.S. 70 Business intersection across from Walmart, including plans for a 36,170-square-foot store in between Hardee's and McLaurin Funeral Home.
The traffic study is for an unnamed Clayton supermarket, but it names the client as GRDI LLC, a corporate name Lidl uses in the United States. The grocer built its U.S. headquarters in Arlington, Va., and plans to attract customers with discount prices.
"We're in the really early stages of preparation; we're actively looking at sites around North Carolina, including Clayton," Lidl spokesman Will Harwood said. "We haven't opened any stores; right now we're laying the groundwork."
Harwood said the German company has 10,000 stores spread across 27 European countries.
Clayton stands out among the towns and cities that Lidl has considered so far. Charlotte and grocery store capital Cary are established communities and proven markets. But while Clayton appears on that track as industries expand, it remains a small town.
"We think this will be a great thing for the customers in the area," Harwood said. "We're looking at this as building on the foundation already established in Europe. The stores in each country are built with those customers in mind, and here we will tailor the stores to customers in the U.S. I personally can't wait to get into the stores here in the U.S. Our model is extremely high-quality products at amazing prices."
At Monday's Clayton Planning Board meeting, planning director David DeYoung mentioned Lidl during a discussion on a coming reconfiguration of the parking lot for Grand Plaza, the small shopping center across U.S. 70 Business from Walmart.
Because the owners of the coming Gatehouse Storage and the existing Waffle House could not reach an access agreement, a second entrance to the storage facility will be built on back side of the Waffle House parking lot. DeYoung said that if and when Lidl comes to town, the intersection will see greater changes.
Camptown RV moved its Clayton store to McGee's Crossroads two years ago, and the Clayton lot has more recently handled the overflow inventory from Camping World in Garner. As of the past week, Camping World has moved the majority of its campers from the Clayton lot.
Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdrewjackson
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