Food City (K-VA-T)

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Food City
Industry Retail
Founded 1955
Headquarters Abingdon, Virginia
Number of locations
Area served
Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia
Key people
Steven C. Smith (President and CEO)
Products Dairy, deli, fresh pizza, frozen foods, grocery, meat, produce, snacks, floral, fuel, pharmacy

Food City is an American supermarket chain with stores located in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. It offers the house labels "Food Club," "Top Care", "ValuTime", "Food City Fresh!", "Food City Premium", "Full Circle", "Paws Happy Life", and "Simply Done" many of which are part of the Topco corporate brand program.[1] Food City is also the exclusive distributor of regional favorites such as "Kay's Ice Cream", "Moore's Classic Snacks", "Terry's Classic Snacks", "Kern's Bread", and "Lay's Classic Meats".[2][3]

It is owned by K-VA-T Food Stores, a privately held family and employee-owned corporation (only 13% via ESOP)[4] headquartered in Abingdon, Virginia.[5] K-VA-T Food Stores owns the Food City Distribution Center (formerly Mid-Mountain Foods), a distribution center K-VA-T helped form in 1974 and acquired full control of in 1998, Misty Mountain Spring Water, LLC, a producer of bottled water, as well as limited-assortment grocery stores named Super Dollar Discount Foods/Super Dollar Food Center, Food City Express and Gas'N Go convenience stores, and two Food City Wine and Spirits liquor stores. Many of their grocery stores have their own fuel stations, with the Gas'N Go branding.


A Food City location in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

K-VA-T Food Stores traces its history to 1955, when company founder Jack Smith opened his first 8,800-square-foot (820 m2) Piggly Wiggly store in Grundy, Virginia, with the help of three special stockholders: his father, Curtis Smith, uncle, Earl Smith and cousin, Ernest Smith. In 1963, Smith added a second store in South Williamson, Kentucky, followed by a newly constructed third location in Pikeville, Kentucky, in 1965, and a store in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, in 1967.

The company continued to grow steadily until 1984 when they acquired Quality Foods, a 19-store chain (founded in 1918), that operated under the Food City name. The Smiths adopted Food City as the new nameplate, along with its heritage, for all of their stores going forward. In 1989, Food City purchased the 43-store White Stores chain based out of Knoxville, Tennessee, more than doubling the size of the company.

In 1998, Food City acquired the 11-store Kennedy Piggly Wiggly chain as well as full control of Mid-Mountain Foods, the current K-VA-T distribution center. The following year, Winn-Dixie pulled out of the Knoxville market and sold their seven stores to Food City. In February 2006, Food City announced the purchase of eight Bi-Lo locations in Knoxville, Maryville, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee.[6]

K-VA-T celebrated its 50th anniversary November 17, 2005, by opening a 46,500 square feet (4,320 m2) store in Vansant, Virginia, just outside Grundy. Three years later, in October 2008, K-VA-T opened its 100th store in Rogersville, Tennessee. The company celebrated this event by sending a special commemorative I-beam to every store in the company where employees signed it as a goodwill gesture for the new store.[7] The beam sits above the entrance way in the 100th store.

In December 2010, K-VA-T purchased Old Town Market in Tazewell, Tennessee, as a replacement store for their New Tazewell, Tennessee, location.[8]

In July 2015, Food City announced the purchase of 21 BI-LO locations in the Chattanooga, Tennessee market as well as eight BI-LO stores in Northern Georgia from Southeastern Grocers. The company plans to invest over $40 million in capital improvements to the locations during the first year as well as install Gas'N Go fuel stations in as many locations as possible.[9][10] K-VA-T reached a milestone in October 2015 by opening its first Georgia location, a converted BI-LO, in Rossville, Georgia. That same month, K-VA-T opened a 62,000 square feet (5,800 m2) Food City in Johnson City, Tennessee, the largest store ever constructed by the company.[11]

In November 2017, Food City opened its first in-store Starbucks in a newly built location in Athens, Tennessee.[12]


K-VA-T's corporate operations were located in Grundy, Virginia, from its inception in 1955 until it moved to Abingdon, Virginia, in the 1970s. Over the course of the years, the company's operations were spread out over five different buildings throughout Abingdon and Washington County.[13]

In June 2011, K-VA-T announced that a new corporate headquarters would be built in Abingdon, Virginia, on the former site of the Johnston Memorial Hospital.[14] The building was anticipated to be a $20 million investment that would create 25 new jobs and open in 2013. Financial incentives totaling $6 million were allocated for the project from multiple sources, including the Virginia Tobacco Commission, Washington County, and the town of Abingdon.[15] The conditions for the incentives were that "K-VA-T's investment in the building must top $20 million, and the company must continue to employ at least 375 people, with a quarterly payroll of more than $4 million."[15]

In October 2013, K-VA-T officially consolidated its corporate operations into the new headquarters building in downtown Abingdon, Virginia, at 1 Food City Circle. The four-story, 140,000 square feet (13,000 m2), facility sits on 17 acres and used parts of the old building in the construction of the new one, with the parking garage receiving renovations to continue its use.[13] In November 2017, K-VA-T donated their previous corporate office building in Abingdon to the Barter Theater.[16]

Super Dollar Food Center[edit]

In 2008, K-VA-T opened its first limited-assortment grocery store named Super Dollar Discount Foods in Wytheville, Virginia. Over the course of the years, the new format has grown by opening up new locations and converting some older, smaller, Food City locations in Pikeville and Prestonsburg, Kentucky; Rogersville, Tennessee; and Grundy, Virginia. In May 2017, K-VA-T began re-branding the Super Dollar Discount Foods stores in Abingdon, Hillsville, and Wytheville, Virginia to the Super Dollar Food Center banner. Over the course of 2017, the rest of the Super Dollar Discount Foods locations were converted to this new banner. As of February 2018, there were 8 Super Dollar locations, with two locations with Gas'N Go fuel stations.[17]

Food City Wine and Spirits[edit]

In August 2012, K-VA-T opened its first Food City Wine and Spirits liquor store, in Pikeville, Kentucky.[18] The company's second Food City Wine and Spirits opened in Louisa, Kentucky, in August 2015.[19]

Convenience stores[edit]

In April 2012, after purchasing a former Exxon branded station in Coeburn, Virginia, K-VA-T opened its first Food City Express branded convenience store to complement their existing grocery store.[20] In June 2014, K-VA-T opened a second location in a former RaceWay convenience store in Elizabethton, Tennessee, under their Gas'N Go branding.[21] Another pair of Gas'N Go convenience store locations were constructed and opened in Morristown and Bristol, Tennessee, later in 2014.

Defunct banners[edit]

Oldtown Market[edit]

When K-VA-T acquired Quality Foods and adopted the Food City name in 1984, their Galax, Virginia Piggly Wiggly location was renamed Oldtown Market. In 1989, Food City sold Oldtown Market to two of their retired management team members. This banner is not to be confused with the Old Town Market Tazewell, Tennessee location K-VA-T purchased and rebranded in 2010.[22]

Valu Foods[edit]

K-VA-T had converted their Sweetwater, Tennessee, location into Valu Foods, a discount warehouse store. This location closed in 1999.

While It Lasts[edit]

K-VA-T had closed one of their two Sevierville, Tennessee locations in 2005, but reopened this location a few months later under the While It Lasts banner. This location was used as a close out store for the various products and brands from the Bi-Lo stores acquisition that they did not carry in their regular Food City locations. It closed in 2006.

Community involvement[edit]

Due to their charitable activities and strong ties to their local economies, Food City received Supermarket News's Community Service Award for 2008.[23]

Steven C. Smith, president and chief executive officer for K-VA-T was named 2009 Grocer of the Year by the Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association during their annual convention. TGCSA selects one outstanding Tennessee retailer who exemplifies the high standards of integrity and efficiency upon which the organization was founded to be named Grocer of the Year.[24]

In February 2013, Food City received the Dale Carnegie Leadership Award which recognizes a commitment to excellent service and quality products; dedication to employee growth; recognition of employee value; and a sense of obligation which brings a high level of community involvement.[25]

Animal shelters[edit]

Each year Food City stores take cash donations and also prepare bags full of pet food and other necessities that shoppers may purchase for local animal shelters. In 2014, over 35,000 bags and cans of pet food were donated to animal shelters in the region.[26]

Appalachia Santa Train[edit]

In 1992, Food City began working with the Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce and CSX Transportation to solicit donations of toys, candy, clothes and money for the Appalachia Santa Train, a 110-mile (180 km) trip through the Appalachian Mountains via train that distributes over 15 tons of gifts to children. Food City's involvement has grown to the point where around 200 volunteers work on the project each year.[27]

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation[edit]

K-VA-T holds a company-wide annual fundraising campaign where shoppers can make a contribution through the purchase of a JDRF "sneaker" at the checkout. 100% of the funds collected are donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. In 2015, Food City presented JDRF with $235,000.[28]

Locally grown produce and eggs[edit]

Food City purchases a great deal of their produce within their trade area, providing additional support to the regions in which they operate. In 2006, Food City purchased in excess of $5,000,000 in locally grown produce from a number of local farms, including those in Grainger, Blount, Hawkins, Unicoi, Jefferson and Sullivan counties in Tennessee; Scott and Carroll counties and through Appalachian Harvest co-op for locally grown organics from the growers in Scott County, Virginia.[29] In July 2011, Food City announced that 95 percent of its eggs would come from Dutt & Wagner of Virginia, Inc., a family-operated egg business that produces and distributes its eggs from Abingdon, Virginia. The remaining 5 percent of eggs are considered specialty products, such as Egg Beaters.[30]

Mission: ABLE[edit]

Since 2011, K-VA-T and NASCAR Champion Richard Petty have teamed up to benefit the Paralyzed Veterans of America's Mission: ABLE campaign by collecting donation from shoppers totaling over $800,000. 100% of the donations collected benefit local Paralyzed Veterans within the region.[31][32]

Race Against Hunger[edit]

Since 1992, Food City stores have held the annual Race Against Hunger holiday campaign where shoppers can make a contribution at the checkout. The 2015-2016 Race Against Hunger campaign raised over $363,000 for numerous hunger relief organizations throughout the region.[33]

School Bucks[edit]

In 1990, Food City began their Apples for the Students program. From its inception until 2007, the program allowed students to collect specially colored Food City register receipts in exchange for computers, software, sporting goods, calculators, teaching tools, audio/visual and other educational materials for their schools. In 2007, the program went completely electronic, allowing customers to link their Food City loyalty cards to the particular school they wish to donate to. This advancement also allowed schools to check totals online. In 2009, Food City rebranded its Apples for the Students program as Food City School Bucks.[citation needed]

Since the program's inception, Food City has awarded $17.9 million to more than 1,000 schools.[34]


Since 1988, Food City has been the official sponsor of the Tim Irwin/Food City Bass Tournament held in Lenoir City, Tennessee. Proceeds from the tournament benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley and has raised over $1,000,000 since 1988.[35]

Food City sponsored NASCAR's Dale Earnhardt from 1995 through 1999.

Food City sponsors two NASCAR events at Bristol Motor Speedway, the Spring Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, the Food City 500 and the late Summer Xfinity Series race, the Food City 300. The Food City deal, which began in 1992, is currently the longest race entitlement sponsor deal in the Sprint Cup Series. As part of the renewal and the 20th anniversary announcement in 2011, following the death in 2010 of track President and General Manager Jeff Byrd, the 20th anniversary race was renamed the Jeff Byrd 500 presented by Food City.[36] The 2015 race was renamed the Food City 500 In Support Of Steve Byrnes And Stand Up To Cancer.[37] Along with these races, Food City holds the Food City Family Race Nights in Knoxville and Bristol, Tennessee, the week preceding the NASCAR events.

In 1995, Food City signed on as a sponsor of Dale Earnhardt's No. 3 Winston Cup Series Chevrolet race car. They renewed the sponsorship in 1997 for two more years with a bonus sponsorship of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Busch Series Chevrolet race car. The Food City/Earnhardt combination captured seven series wins and the 1998 championship during the sponsorship deal.[38]

From 2005 to 2007, Food City also sponsored the former Hooters Pro Cup event at Bristol Motor Speedway, the Food City 150.[39][40]

Prior to 2010, Food City was a primary sponsor of the Tour Knoxville Open golf tournament in Knoxville, Tennessee, which benefited several charities.[41]

In September 2014, it was announced that Food City would be a presenting sponsor for the Battle at Bristol football game in 2016 between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Virginia Tech Hokies.[42] In September 2016, Bristol Motor Speedway announced that Food City signed on as the title sponsor of the "Bucs at Bristol" football game between the ETSU Buccaneers and the Western Carolina Catamounts. The Bucs at Bristol game is the first Southern Conference home game for ETSU since 2003 when the school disbanded their football program.[43]


As of February 2018, K-VA-T operates 131 retail food outlets (123 Food City stores, 8 Super Dollar stores along with 5 convenience stores and 2 liquor stores (Food City Wine & Spirits)) in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. The chain includes over 100 in-store pharmacies and over 100 fuel stations.[44][45][46]


  1. ^ Topco Mainstream Brands Archived 2017-08-15 at the Wayback Machine., accessed on August 14, 2017
  2. ^ Nickles Banana Flip is back, accessed on April 12, 2012
  3. ^ Legacy Brands Archived 2015-09-07 at the Wayback Machine., accessed on August 14, 2017
  4. ^ "Food City". Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-06-08. 
  5. ^ Steve Smith says Food City committed to improved health, wellness throughout region, accessed April 15, 2011
  6. ^ Food City to Buy 8 Tennessee Bi-Lo Stores Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine., February 20, 2006
  7. ^ Lowe, Brandon (2008-10-01). "Food City banking on Union County growth with new store". Knoxville News Sentinel. Archived from the original on 2011-05-20. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  8. ^ Food City buys out Old Town Market, will remodel building, December 2010
  9. ^ Food City Acquires Chattanooga Area BI-LO Supermarkets Archived 2015-09-07 at the Wayback Machine., press release July 23, 2015
  10. ^ Food City to Add Gas Stations to Grocery Sites Archived 2015-07-30 at the Wayback Machine., July 24, 2015
  11. ^ New Food City store on N. State of Franklin Road set to open Wednesday Archived 2015-10-21 at the Wayback Machine., WJHL October 20, 2015
  12. ^ "Food City opens in 'Friendly City'". Daily Post-Athenian. 2017-11-01. Retrieved 2017-11-02. 
  13. ^ a b Food City hosts tour, open house at new headquarters, November 21, 2013
  14. ^ Former Johnston Memorial to become Food City HQ, June 3, 2011
  15. ^ a b K-VA-T to receive $6 million incentive, December 26, 2011
  16. ^ Food City donates building to Barter Theater Archived 2017-11-09 at the Wayback Machine., WCYB TV November 8, 2017
  17. ^ Super Dollar Food Center: Locations Archived 2017-11-07 at the Wayback Machine., accessed February 14, 2018
  18. ^ Food City unveils big changes Archived 2012-09-08 at the Wayback Machine., August 31, 2012
  19. ^ First Legal Liquor In Louisa In Decades Archived 2015-07-20 at the Wayback Machine., July 18, 2015
  20. ^ "Food City Express to open in Coeburn, Va". 2012-04-17. Retrieved 2014-06-11. 
  21. ^ "Food City to open new gas station, store in city". Elizabethton Star. 2014-05-12. Retrieved 2015-08-02. 
  22. ^ Carolyn Roberts Named Store Manager of Galax Food City Archived 2018-05-19 at the Wayback Machine., accessed on May 18, 2018
  23. ^ Role Model Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine., Supermarket News accessed on March 8, 2008
  24. ^ Food City "President and CEO Named Tennessee Grocer of the Year" Archived 2011-07-11 at the Wayback Machine., press release April 20, 2009
  25. ^ "Food City employees, customers share in Dale Carnegie Leadership Award" Archived 2014-07-31 at the Wayback Machine., dated February 18, 2013
  26. ^ "Food City Pet Club". WBIR. 2015-09-28. Retrieved 2015-10-02. 
  27. ^, Lexington Herald-Leader November 19, 2010
  28. ^ "Food City Supports Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation". 2015-05-14. Archived from the original on 2015-10-03. Retrieved 2015-10-02. 
  29. ^ Food City Features Locally Grown Produce Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine., press release June 25, 2007
  30. ^ Food City introduces locally produced eggs in their stores, July 28, 2011
  31. ^ "Food City and NASCAR Legend Richard Petty Team up to Benefit Paralyzed Veterans of America's Mission". Food City. 2016-06-27. Archived from the original on 2018-01-18. Retrieved 2017-01-16. 
  32. ^ "Food City, NASCAR Legend Richard Petty and RTIC Coolers Team Up to Help Veterans". PR Newswire. 2017-07-05. Archived from the original on 2017-07-06. Retrieved 2017-07-05. 
  33. ^ "Food City's Race Against Hunger collection begins". Bristol Herald Courier. 2017-10-31. Retrieved 2017-11-02. 
  34. ^ 66 Chattanooga area schools get Food City funds Archived 2017-11-07 at the Wayback Machine., October 24, 2017
  35. ^ Bass tournament to support Boys & Girls Clubs reaches million-dollar milestone Archived 2016-07-24 at the Wayback Machine., Knoxville News-Sentinel, July 21, 2016.
  36. ^ Bristol Sprint Cup race renamed to honor Jeff Byrd
  37. ^ April 19 Bristol race renamed to honor FOX Sports' Steve Byrnes Archived 2015-04-11 at the Wayback Machine., Fox Sports, April 10, 2015.
  38. ^ Tales of Bristol Motor Speedway Archived 2016-05-01 at the Wayback Machine., David McGee, p. 86
  39. ^ 2004 Food City 150
  40. ^ 2007 Food City 150
  41. ^ Knoxville Open's future in doubt; Food City drops sponsorship, WBIR, February 8, 2010.
  42. ^ "Official countdown clock up for future Virginia Tech game at Bristol Motor Speedway". WDBJ7. 2014-09-10. Archived from the original on 2014-09-11. Retrieved 2014-09-10. 
  43. ^ "Bucs at Bristol game this Saturday at BMS, Food City signs on as title sponsor". WJHL. 2016-09-12. Archived from the original on 2016-09-13. Retrieved 2016-09-12. 
  44. ^ "Find Your Local Store". Food City. Archived from the original on 2015-03-21. Retrieved 2017-11-02. 
  45. ^ "Super Dollar Food Center Locations". Super Dollar Food Center. Archived from the original on 2017-11-07. Retrieved 2018-02-14. 
  46. ^ "Food City unveils big changes". 2012-08-31. Archived from the original on 2012-09-08. Retrieved 2013-02-23. 

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