Lowes Foods and Monkee’s Receive Retailer of the Year Awards

Two Winston-Salem companies have received the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association’s retailer of the year awards.

Lowes Foods and Monkee’s were presented the awards Friday at association’s annual Retail Refresh “lunch and learn” event at the Marriott in Winston-Salem.

Other retailer of the year award recipients were Ray Price Harley Davidson of Raleigh, and Walgreens, which has a district office in Morrisville.

“We are proud of all of our retail members, who work day in and day out to provide superior value to their customers, and these four award recipients have served North Carolina’s retail industry with distinction,” said NCRMA President and General Counsel Andy Ellen. “They deserve statewide recognition because they are helping to sustain local economies, changing to meet the needs of their customers, and giving back to their local communities.”

NCRMA’s Retailer of the Year Awards is an annual recognition to celebrate retail excellence, from the smallest independent retailers to the largest chains across all sectors. Entries are reviewed by a selection committee consisting of retailers, retail educators, retired retail executives and suppliers to the retail industry. Businesses are evaluated according to their contributions to the state’s economy, their business innovations, as well as their impact on local communities.

Lowes Foods was chosen because of its service to the community — locally and internationally.

For example, the supermarket chain sponsors food drives and charitable donation throughout the year, donates seeds in the Piedmont and as far away as Zimbabwe and Jamaica, and encourages sustainable, local production of fresh foods through its Locally Grown programs.

Lowes Foods, which is part of the Alex Lee family of companies, was also given the award for its innovative ways in connecting with customers.

“Lowes Foods is less interested in being “an incrementally better grocery store” and more interested in creating “something different and unique in the grocery experience overall,” said the company’s president, Tim Lowe.

Some of the supermarket chain’s numerous concepts that it has been rolling out to locations include a chicken dance where employees and willing customers flap their arms and wiggle their rear-ends when a rotisserie chicken comes out of the oven; and a community table for meetings or cooking demonstrations.

“As a home grown grocer based right here in the Carolinas, we are honored to accept this award from the N.C. Retail Merchants Association on behalf of our 8,500 hosts, which is what we call our employees,” said Kelly Davis, director of strategy and insights for Lowes Foods. “Being a local retailer and supporting over 200 local farmers and many small local food producers is very important to us.

Monkee’s, a retailer of upscale women’s shoes, clothing and accessories, started in 1995 with one store in Wilmington and currently has 23 locations. Its corporate office and Monkee’s of the Village are in Reynolda Village in Winston-Salem. The store will open three additional locations in August.

“This year marks our 20th anniversary since the first Monkee’s store opened, and we are honored to be a 2015 Retailer of the Year,” said Andrea Rice, Monkee’s vice president of sales and operations.

Rice said that the company expects to open four to six new locations a year.

“In order to effectively manage our growth, we have increased our corporate staff and implemented new technologies to streamline our workflow,” Rice said. “For example, we have recently implemented a marketing automation software to enhance the communication between our corporate marketing team and our franchisees while increasing productivity.”

In Monkee’s application for the NCRMA Retailer of the Year award, company officials stated that Shaw believes that providing a personal experience for its customers is the cornerstone of Monkee’s.

“We want Monkee’s to feel like you are in your living room,” stated Shaw. “You can come in your tennis clothes, or browse with a cup of coffee. Sit down and relax, chat with us, and share what is going on in your life. And just be a friend.”

The application goes on to state that Shaw and Maready have supported multiple community organizations and events, including Wine, Women and Shoes, an event supporting the Make-a-Wish foundation: Brenner Children’s Hospital; and the New Hanover Regional Medical Center Foundation.