As part of PG's continuing Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co. Independent Retailer of the Year coverage, we take a peek inside Piggly Wiggly's Newton Farms concept store, which beckons as a retail food retreat on scenic Kiawah Island, S.C.
Rarely do vacationers make their choice of travel destinations on the basis of local supermarket options. But in the case of Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co.'s Newton Farms concept store at the crossroads of South Carolina's Kiawah and Seabrook Islands, that's exactly what they've been known to do, and for good reason.
Part local grocer, part European open-air market, the unique 33,000-square-foot store — dubbed by locals the "Posh Pig" — has been open for six years and has indeed become a must-stop visit for the thousands of travelers descending on the lovely coastal town renowned for its pristine beaches, golf resorts and miles of conservation land.
As the anchor of the intriguing upscale Freshfields Village shopping center that mirrors a charming Lowcountry village, Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co.'s up-market concept store, named after the Charleston, S.C.-based retailer's founding Newton family, caters to the gourmet tastes of its Kiawah clientele with a strong focus on quality, service, and locally grown and produced goods. Featuring more than 55 locally owned shops, galleries, restaurants and boutiques, Freshfields Village allows residents and visitors alike to meet, shop, enjoy fine or casual dining, and share unique cultural events such as outdoor concerts and movies, art exhibits, and food festivals.
Offering a metaphorical treasure hunt around every bend, the store design borrows heavily from the area's agricultural heritage, with its open, weathered green barn-like setting and shabby-chic fixtures evocative of a rustic marketplace that feels intimate and personal, and is skillfully set into motion by a talented team of professionals found throughout the store.
Under the direction of Jeff Harrell and co-operator David Lallement, the store's cozy, captivating interior has an open-air market ambiance that allows the departments to flow gracefully from one to the next. Indeed, everything about Newton Farms revolves around meeting and exceeding customers' expectations for a supermarket, says Harrell, noting an abundance of high-quality fresh foods, Southern specialty foods, conventional groceries, and a plethora of regional favorites that are creatively merchandised and expertly tended to by specialty products director Lydia Montgomery.
An inviting full-service floral design studio in close proximity to the well-stocked produce department at the front of the store sets the tone for the open-air floor plan, highlights of which include a full bakery offering a wide and inviting assortment of scratch-made pastries and breads, and extensive full-service meat and seafood departments boasting top-shelf, premium-quality meats such as Angus and Kobe beef and a dazzling array of seafood, much of it locally caught. Ditto for the store's produce, much of which hails directly from nearby Johns Island growers.
In addition to a Starbucks and a concierge desk, Newton Farms houses a wide array of organic, natural and specialty foods, as well as an in-store café featuring an extensive selection of prepared foods ranging from traditional Southern dishes to gourmet pizza, a fresh garden bar, pastas, soups, deli-style, made-to-order sandwiches and much more.
Another focal point is Newton Farms' award-winning catering team consisting of highly skilled chefs and event planners who bring a whole other dimension of food and service expertise to the mix. The same can be said for the store's impressive wine hall, which carries about 1,800 varieties from near and far. Under the direction of the passionate and highly knowledgeable wine director, Sue Mohle (who also conveniently serves as specialty cheese buyer), the store is acclaimed for having one of the best wine selections in all of South Carolina.
In addition to providing guests with a complete selection of upscale gourmet groceries and prepared foods, the store serves both vacationers and residents, as Harrell is quick to point out. As such, many of the items found in Newton Farms are parity-priced in line with conventional neighboring Piggly Wiggly stores.