Business Opportunity Breakfast recap

About 40 small & minority businesses and community leaders were present at Victors Downtown Florence for the Chamber’s Business Opportunity Breakfast. Attendees learned about the purchasing process with the City of Florence and other major corporations.

Presenters included representatives from Honda of South Carolina, SC Department of Transportation, SC Division of Small and Minority Business Certification and Contracting (SMBCC) and the City of Florence.

Bi-Lo on Pamplico Highway sold to Food Lion

By: Don Kausler, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. – Food Lion is acquiring the Bi-Lo store in south Florence and plans to open its sixth grocery store in Florence later this year.

Bi-Lo will have no more stores in Florence. Less than a year ago, it closed its store on West Palmetto Street.

“Making a decision like this to sell a store to another retailer is definitely not made lightly, but it made sense from a business standpoint,” said Joe Caldwell, a senior manager of corporate communication and sports partnerships for Southeastern Grocers in Jacksonville, Florida.

Three other Bi-Lo stores in South Carolina are being sold to Food Lion: one in Myrtle Beach, one in Surfside Beach and one on Two North Road in Columbia.

“We anticipate closing this transaction in late May,” said Benny Smith, a spokesman at the Food Lion corporate office in Salisbury, North Carolina. “We’re really excited about our openings.”

There are no plans to close any Food Lions in Florence, Smith said, including two near the Pamplico Highway location. One store is two miles south at 2600 S. Irby St., and another one is 3.6 miles west at 1307 Second Loop Road.

“We’re always known as being right there in the community for our customers,” Smith said.

Food Lion also has Florence locations on North Cashua Drive, East Palmetto Street and West Palmetto Street. It has three other stores in the Pee Dee: one each in Darlington, Marion, Dillon and Bennettsville.

Bi-Lo still has stores in the Pee Dee in Darlington, Hartsville and Kingstree.

Web Article:

Magnolia Mall’s new stores, jobs a contrast to experience in other parts of US

By: Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. — While malls around the U.S. begin to dwindle, Magnolia Mall in Florence is experiencing growth unlike anything it has seen before.

Magnolia Mall, at 2701 David H McLeod Blvd., opened in 1979 and sees hundreds to thousands of Pee Dee residents visit its stores daily.

Kelsey Hill is marketing manager for PREIT, the mall’s parent company.

“Magnolia Mall is a staple in the Florence community and we are always looking for new and exciting ways to cater to the residents whether it’s with our fun events or favorite retailers,” Hill said. “Also, by bringing in new stores and restaurants, we are able to add hundreds of jobs to aid in the growth and success of the Florence area.”

While it seems that the Magnolia Mall is trending toward an increase in growth, Credit Suisse, a global financial service corporation, predicted that up to 25 percent of the nation’s malls could close by 2020. The service suggests changes in consumer shopping habits and failing department stores as reasons malls have been dwindling.

Joe Coradino, chairman and CEO of PREIT, said that the company is breaking the trend by staying “out in front of the problem.”

“We get tenants that are going to drive more traffic and drive more sales to our properties,” Coradino said. “The rationalization that has occurred in the department store space has been a good thing. We didn’t need that many and the result is that you replace them. We’ve differentiated to dining, entertainment, health and beauty, fitness, on and on and on.”

Hill added that the company is always looking to add and change things in its malls that will create a better experience for its customers.

“PREIT is continuously looking to improve the quality of our portfolio through innovative twists on the shopping mall framework and the addition of in-demand retailers and fresh experiences,” Hill said.

The mall made renovations to the food court and has added several new retailers in 2017 and early 2018, including Burlington, Five Below and Journey Kidz.

HomeGoods is set to open on Sunday, May 6, in between Burlington and Five Below and H&M will open in the mall later this year.

In the outparcel locations, Chick-fil-A will become a full-service, sit-down 5,000-square-foot restaurant after being a drive-thru only restaurant for the past 25 years. PREIT also announced the addition of a Texas Roadhouse, which will go out near IHOP and is set to begin construction in November.

“We are thrilled to be continuously offering our shoppers additions and improvements,” Hill said. “2018 is a huge year for us and you will see plenty more new, remodeled, and expanded stores. We know everyone will be thrilled with some of the other retailers that we will be announcing very soon.”

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2018 Administrative Professionals Day Luncheon

Today, nearly 400 employees from local businesses showed for the Florence & Darlington Chamber’s annual Administrative Professionals Day Luncheon at SiMT. The guest speaker was Laura Hamilton as she talked about “Why Are You Looking For The Wizard?”. The program was made possible by SPC Credit Union, Trojan Labor and Duke Energy. More than 80 door prizes were given away from local merchants and attending vendors.

Mark Moore – Business Leader, Philanthropist, Stroke Survivor

Make plans to hear from Mark Moore, business leader and author of “A Stroke of Faith: A Stroke Survivor’s Story of a Second Chance at Living a Life of Significance.”

Mark was a healthy and successful entrepreneur and business leader, having raised $2B in multiple IPOs, including USA Mobil, Premiere Paging, Conxus, and Mindshift Technologies. He was serving as CEO of Segovia, Inc., a leading provider of services to the US Defense Department, when he suffered a stroke in 2007. Remarkably, Mark was able to complete a 5K charity run just one year after his stroke, a testament to his faith in God’s ability to help overcome the many obstacles that everyone experiences in recovering from a major stroke. In 2017, ten years after his stroke, he began acting as the National Ambassador for Empowered to Serve, a major initiative of the American Heart Association, speaking all over the country about his faith, stroke prevention and stroke recovery.

Admission is free. Mark’s book, “A Stroke of Faith” will be available for sale and will be signed by the author following the event.

Lidl to have its grand opening on Thursday, May 24th

Lidl, a German supermarket chain, will celebrate the grand opening of its Florence location on Thursday, May 24.
Lidl, at 2205 W. Palmetto Street, will open its doors at 8 a.m. immediately following a ribbon cutting ceremony at 7:40 a.m. The Florence store will be Lidl’s 12th location in South Carolina.

Customers will be able to take advantage of get-them-while-you-can grand opening special offers at the new store. The first 100 customers to arrive will receive a wooden coin for a chance to win up to $100 in Lidl gift cards.
Shoppers can also sample an array of Lidl’s products and get a complimentary Lidl reusable bag, while supplies last. The store will also host games, activities, prizes, special deals and giveaways through the grand opening weekend.
Lidl prides itself on an “easy-to-shop” layout, award-winning wines, fresh baked good, healthy, sustainable choices, and top-quality products. According to a release, about 90 percent of the groceries at Lidl will be “exclusive brand products.”
The new grand opening comes shortly after a study from the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler School of Business found that Lidl could save shoppers up to 50 percent on their groceries when compared to prices of other nearby retailers, according to the release.

The store will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
Lidl operates more than 10,000 stores in 28 countries. Lidl first established its U.S. headquarters in Arlington County, Virginia in June 2015 and currently has stores in six U.S. states.

For more information, visit
Story from SCNOW.COM

Chick-fil-A app provides for curb-side delivery at Magnolia Mall in Florence

By: Rebecca Cross, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. – Chick-fil-A inside the Magnolia Mall joined the Florence Chamber and recently opened additional curbside delivery parking spots.

To celebrate, Chick-fil-A employees and representatives from the Florence Chamber held a ribbon cutting on Wednesday afternoon outside Magnolia Mall.

Customers can use the Chick-fil-A One app to order their food and then pick it up at one of the four identified curbside delivery parking spots in the food court parking lot. Sara Black, franchise owner, said this is one of the preparations her store is making to prepare for an influx of customers.

The drive-thru only Chick-fil-A will temporarily close starting April 23 before the freestanding Chick-fil-A outside Magnolia Mall opens later in the summer.

“We’re trying to get the word out to take care of those guests,” Black said. “If they don’t want to get out of the car, we can deliver it to their car. They just use the mobile app.”

The Chick-fil-A app is free to download for Apple and Android devices and is a rewards system. Customers receive treats periodically for using the app.

Black said she enjoys bettering a community. That is one of the reasons she decided to leave the medical field after 15 years of work as a physician assistant and in medical sales.

“I grew up in a family business in Anderson, South Carolina, and just wanted to own my own business and be able to have an impact on lives like I did in medicine but on a longer term basis like helping … people of all ages reach their higher goals and impacting the community,” Black said.

Black became the owner of the Chick-fil-A inside Magnolia Mall during January of 2017.

“I never look at it as that I’m coming to work because when you own your own business, and you’re working for yourself, you just have I think this internal motivation to always want to be more,” Black said. “It’s just to be able to set the tone of the business.”

Black said she wants to serve guests with excellence.

Chick-fil-A employees will now do table delivery and in-mall delivery for guests who use the Chick-fil-A app. Black said this is helpful for mall employees who may have short work breaks.

“We’re just really trying to think outside the box and be convenient,” Black said. “That’s one of our main missions here is to be surprisingly fast and convenient for our guests.”

Black said a goal for her Chick-fil-A is to grow the catering business. The store’s number is 843-665-9259.

Lunch & Learn Series

Attention local business folks. You should plan on having lunch with us at a Lunch & Learn Program that shares great information on the challenges small businesses face in dealing with compliance and human resources as well as tax credits and how a foundation can serve as a vehicle for Donor Advised Funds, IRA, and 401K Distributions that are mandatory or voluntary. The lunch is provide by First Reliance Bank and Signature Wealth Strategies. To attend, please email or contact Zach Hearne at or call 843.779.5430.

Jr. Leadership Florence Graduation

Congratulations to the Florence Country Junior Leadership class of 2017-2018. This special group of high school students graduated this evening at Francis Marion University’s Frank B Lee Nursing Building. The program is was made possible by Florence County 4-H, The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce and Francis Marion University.

Junior Leadership Florence County is accepting applications

FLORENCE, S.C. – The Clemson Extension Service, the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce and Francis Marion University are accepting applications for the 2018-19 Junior Leadership Florence County 4-H Program through Friday.

To apply, students must live in or attend school in Florence County and must be classified as a high school sophomore or junior during the 2018-19 school year.

The program enables students to develop leadership skills while increasing awareness. Beginning in August, selected participants will attend an opening retreat, followed by eight monthly sessions. Sessions focus on leadership skills, successful team work, health care, community awareness, business and industry, agriculture, government, history, art and education.

“The hope is that in learning about what it takes to be a leader and what makes Florence County unique, these young men and women will be empowered to assume leadership positions in their own community as they become available,” said Florence County 4-H agent Faith Truesdale. “We are starting the pipeline of smart, talented visionaries that our area needs for continued progress and growth.”

Chamber President Michael Miller said this is an outstanding program that has resulted in amazing reviews by students and parents.

“The opportunity to participate in this process is priceless and should be promoted heavily within our local schools systems,” Miller said.

Up to 25 students will be selected for the program, which is open to any public, private or home-schooled student who lives in or attends school in Florence County.

“This program has allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone, meet new people and learn more about what is taking place in our county,” said Morgan McManus, a 2016 program graduate.

Applications and information can be found at or by contacting high school guidance counselors, the Florence County Extension Office or the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce.

4-H is the youth development program of the Cooperative Extension Service, a nationwide partnership of federal, state and county governments and the private sector.