When someone handed Evelyn Gentry of Rock Hill a $100 gift card at the Food Lion on Ebenezer Road on Wednesday, Gentry thought it was a gimmick.
Only a few days before, she said someone had tried to scam her over the phone, prompting her to call police.
She didn’t have to call the police Wednesday. The $100 card was genuine, one of 90 that Food Lion gave to customers to show the company’s appreciation.
The Ebenezer Food Lion was one of eight Food Lion stores nationally selected for the company’s first giveaway, said company spokesman Benny Smith. It was the only South Carolina store and the only one in the Charlotte region selected. Five stores in North Carolina and two in Virginia participated in the giveaway.
Drew Elliott, manager of the Ebenezer Food Lion for the past three years, said his store was selected for its community involvement and location.
The surprise was almost complete as company officials didn’t tell Elliott until 4 p.m., when corporate camera crews arrived at his store. They brought a drone-mounted camera inside to cover all angles of the giveaway.
With a short announcement from Elliott, Food Lion employees fanned out throughout the store to hand shoppers gift cards. They started at 5 p.m., and 20 minutes later everyone shopping or checking out had a gift card.
Gentry was among them as she walked out of the store, clutching her new gift card. “I can’t believe it, how did I get so lucky?” She said she will use the card to shop for herself and a friend who likes various Food Lion items.
Randy and Debbie Pickens of McConnells were in the back of the store when they got a gift card. They said they sporadically shop at the Ebenezer store, “but we’ll come back more often now,” Debbie Pickens said.
No other grocery store has shown its appreciation this way, Debbie Pickens said.
The Pickenses were among a number of shoppers who put the gift card to use immediately. They were shopping for dinner. With the gift card in hand, the Pickenses’ menu changed to country steak, turnip greens and red beans and rice – for five.
They also bought extra ketchup, peanut butter and coffee. In all, they spent $70 of the $100 gift card.
“The gift card kept me from spending cash,” Debbie Pickens said. “This made my whole week!”
Gary Knight of Rock Hill was perhaps one of the luckiest shoppers. He had walked into the store to buy a soda and left with a $100 gift card.
“This,” he said, holding the card, “will really make a difference.”
Don Worthington • 803-329-4066