KJ's Brings Community Closer

Jan 4, 2023

Every town needs a quintessential grocery store that is family owned and serves as a community pillar. In Moncks Corner, South Carolina, that is KJ's Market. 

A couple of years ago, the town was lacking that independent charm, but in 2020 KJ's Markets acquired the Moncks Corner location from Southeastern Grocers and converted the Bi-Lo location to a KJ's Market. W. Lee Flowers, KJ's licensed distributor, serves many communities — there are 33 KJ's Markets (plus 20 other IGA banner stores) throughout South Carolina, Georgia and 2 locations in North Carolina.

Deeply Rooted in Community

Despite the large store count, KJ’s Markets have a reputation for being deeply involved in their community. Ever since the Moncks Corner store opened, they have been raising money for non-profit organizations such as the Walk for Cancer and the American Heart Association. They do so by sponsoring community-oriented events like pancake feeds, farmers market displays, and barbecue sales in the parking lot during the spring and summer months. Mark Mulkey, VP Retail Operations for KJ's Markets, says “we work hard to be a great community partner in every town we operate in”.

“We have done several events with the kids from face painting, jumping castle, jump rope contest to painting small canvas and decorating cookies," says KJ’s store manager, Wanda Webber. "We also had a table with cut up fruit cups showing how to eat healthy. We are very proud to serve our community and look forward to the next adventure.” 

KJs Kiwanis fundraiserKJ's Market and the Kiwanis Club of Moncks Corner

KJ’s Market is the rare traditional grocer that offers services that larger chains have started to lose in recent years. Specifically, they cut their meats fresh in store daily, and the butchers are trained to give customers both quality food and service. The store's hot bar offers both deli and home-cooked meal options, and even operates a limited catering service. While they can offer delivery, a majority of their large orders of customer favorites like fried chicken, pork chops, and meat loaf, are picked up in store. 

"The hot food bar is frequently one of the most popular places in many of the communities where KJ's Markets operate," says Doug Stone, IGA Area Director. "The made-from-scratch items are extremely popular in the community and it's not uncommon to have a line all the way out to the front door."

They are well-known for their delicious breakfast and lunch items and are especially busy on Sundays. They boast an expansive fresh cut produce department and an in-store cake decorating service. Above all, the Moncks Corner location is known for their attentive customer service, as well as their pride in a clean and safe facility.

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, KJ’s hot bar service continued to thrive. The business adjusted to meet safety protocols while also remaining functional in order to provide customers with their quality meals. KJ’s closed their seating area and began packaging to-go plates so as to keep customers both fed and healthy during uncertain times.

Some of the Moncks Corner location’s biggest competitors include Walmart, Piggly Wiggly, Food Lion, and a newly opened Publix. However, Mulkey explains that, “being an independent means we have the ability to cater to the individual needs of guests. Also, our store managers have a lot of autonomy to turn on a dime and adapt without red tape or corporate approval.”

This flexibility allows KJ’s to offer custom fresh-cut meats and special orders that can be filled quickly and efficiently. The ability to cater to both individuals and the broader customer base allows KJ’s to come out on top over big chains time and time again. 

“They very much do cater to the community and the stores are set based on what the community is looking for,” Stone says.

Stone notes that the Moncks Corner area is an "incredibly fast-growing community with a long and lively history," that also serves as a reasonably pricing housing market with an easy commute to Charleston about 30 miles away. 

"Aside from the Publix, which has just opened, KJ's is clearly the most upscale full service grocery store in the community. The other operators tend to be totally focused on price at the expense of the in-store experience. KJ's has found the sweet spot for providing both value and customer service. They are also a leader in what they do with service in the community, and their made-in-store sweet tea is truly a southern classic."

Kjs Moncks corner reviewA customer review found on the KJ's Market Facebook page. 

Looking Ahead

KJ's distributor W. Lee Flowers has been in business since 1922, and their partnership with IGA stretches far back as well. Now, Moncks Corner store is looking to utilize more of IGA’s programs to improve their brand and build new business strategies. They currently utilize the National Digital Ad, some of the IGA sign programs and the shopper rewards program. 

KJ’s already participates in IGA’s Five Star Program, and has had several stores rank in that program in recent years. Employees across all KJ’s locations take pride in the high level of quality that they have helped to achieve, and participation in the award has grown year after year. 

Mulkey states that KJ’s of Moncks Corner is working on quality execution every day. "We strive to be the best grocery retailer in the area, with an unbeatable customer service experience that customers can’t get at the big chain stores.” Thanks to a personal connection with guests and the community, as well as an emphasis on quality service and groceries, KJ’s IGA at Moncks Corner will continue to thrive for years to come.

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