Ingles Markets Inc. is opening its newest local supermarket this month, in Mills River.
Wednesday, April 24 is the first day of operation and the formal grand opening, Ingles Chief Financial Officer Ron Freeman told The Tribune Friday. He said a daily countdown will be marked at the store, planned for the 12 days leading to April 24. “We are on schedule” to open then, he said, with merely touchup work remaining.
The store is at 3338 Boyleston Hwy (N.C. 191) on the south side of 191, by North Mills River Road. This site is .8 of a mile west of where 191 joins highway 280. At that corner, a Food Lion is the nearest competition.
“This is a great location,” Freeman said. “We’re anxious to serve the Mills River community.”
A large corn field behind and next to the store symbolizes Ingles’ reliance on local farm suppliers. The field also amplifies how this area remains very rural, and much less commercially developed than the nearby Asheville Regional Airport industrial corridor.
A crucial component to making the new store a reality is a $301,000 state grant, paying to extend semi-gravity sewer lines to the store and nearby sites. The extension is from Hooper Lane and Jeffress Road to 280/191 and North Mills River Road. The N.C. Rural Economic Development Center grant focuses on rural job creation, with 33 jobs targeted as terms, according to state and Town of Mills River officials.
“We’re meeting our commitments,” Freeman said of the job target.
Ingles now has eight stores in Henderson County and 70 in the state. This is its first new store in two years with the last one in Georgia, Freeman added. He noted “we are remodeling our stores all of the time.”
The new supermarket’s layout is “in line with all the stores we’ve recently built in the area,” Freeman said. “But there are some unique features we’re trying out.”
For instance, freezer display cabinets have electric lights out until “somebody stands right in front of the door,” when a motion sensor activates lights, Freeman said. “We are using that type of freezer in all stores, where we’re doing touchups (renovations)” in the past two years.
Ingles was an innovator with its Ingles Gas Express at many of its stores built in the last decade. The new store will also sell gasoline. It has Energy Star federal certification for efficient energy use design, Chairman and CEO Robert P. “Bobby” Ingle II proudly noted. He stated the aim is to be “energy efficient, to be good stewards of our resources and to hold down overhead costs to maintain low prices for our customers.”
Other Ingles stores in Henderson County are at 625 Spartanburg Highway (the smaller elder store), 177 S Highlander Drive, Suite 220; 220 Highland Lake Road, 3643 Howard Gap Road, 1705 Brevard Highway; and 2901 Hendersonville Road and 600 Old Hendersonville Road both in Fletcher. There is one Ingles in Brevard, and six in Asheville with two in Arden near Henderson County.
Black Mountain-based Ingles employs more than 20,000 people in 204 stores in six Southeastern states, mostly in Georgia and N.C., Freeman said. About a dozen of those stores are Sav-More; the rest carry the Ingles name. Ingles’ Milkco Inc. processing and packaging plant handles milk, citrus, tea and bottled water. Ingles also owns 71 neighborhood shopping plazas, with most anchored by an Ingles.
Bobby Ingle succeeds his father Bob Ingle, who died two years ago on March 6, 2011. The son of a grocer, Bob Ingle founded the company 50 years ago in 1963 starting in Asheville.
Family-controlled Ingles (symbol IMKTA) has been publicly-traded for a quarter-century, since 1987. Net income rose 11.2 percent and sales rose 4.2 percent in the last (2011-12) full fiscal year ending in September compared to 2010-11, as Ingles sales have grown for 48 successive years, according to financial reports online. Check http://www.ingles-markets.com/careers/ for job opportunities.