What have you discovered, lately?


I was recently in North Carolina and stopped in the local grocery store that is a regional chain.  Most of you know, I love walking stores (and casinos).  It’s an opportunity to explore and I always discover something new. For me, on this given day, it was a bar right smack in the alcohol beverage section of the store. 

It was cute and trendy and was basically a stand-alone bar with fewer bar stools. It just happened to be in a grocery store.  I started talking to the bartender who informed me that this particular bar area was one of the smaller ones; and that Lowes Foods operates Bar Dens in many of their more than 100 stores across the Carolinas and Virginia. 


As I started doing research on the “Beer Den” I also discovered that I’m apparently the one living in a cave because bar-in-a grocery store has been a trend for quite some time; and, has generated interest among shoppers to enjoy craft beer, good in-store cooked food, and enhance their customer experience. And, guess what it attracts more shoppers to come to the store and linger for a while.  The more they linger usually the more they buy.  Here’s a great article from Food Dive that speaks to this trend.

Enhancing your customers experience is easier said than done but discovering Lowes Foods version of an in-store craft beer bar really “wowed” me.  The obvious standard value added experiences around the Beer Den like events, suggesting recipes to be paired with beers, offering a food menu with the beers, etc. are being executed they created more than the apparent experiences for their customers.

Here are some of the “wow” factors that Lowes Foods, in my opinion, got right:

  • It is authentic both in products served and aesthetics of the bar; so, the optics are inviting and right.  The bartender which I also discovered is called a Beer Den host is knowledgeable and dedicated to the Beer Den.  The host is not running around the store doing other things when not busy at the Beer Den.  They also have Master Ben Den host roles; so, there is an obvious road map to attract talent interested in this area.
  • They collaborate with local breweries and communicate that to the community.  Both Lowes Foods and Local Breweries are working together to create one-of -a kind, small batch beers.  Community members love to hear that!
  • They created their own unique product called the “Beer Den Growler” which is a 64 ounce designed glass jug that is filled with your favorite beer.  The jug only cost $4.99 and you can bring it back the next time for a refill and you’re charged only for the beer.

Authenticity, investment in your community through tapping (no pun intended) into the local businesses expertise and developing a unique product that you can only get at the Beer Den are all experiences that Lowes Foods created to enhance their shoppers’ experiences. 

So, I’m glad I walked into Lowes Foods that day.  It allowed me to go on an interesting journey and learn more about the trend of in-store bars and discover something new (for me at least)!


Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.