Harris Teeter has been shopping around the Lowcountry for new locations, quietly stockpiling plans for a potential major expansion.
The company is planning to open six more locations across the Charleston area, more than doubling its current store count at a time when few other supermarkets are being built.
"Our stores have been very well-received by the communities there. ... Charleston's a great area, and we feel lucky that our shoppers have been more than loyal," said spokeswoman Jennifer Panetta.
The proposed stores are in different stages of the development process, and Panetta was hesitant to provide additional details on several.
The company confirmed it has claimed space in West Ashley's St. Andrews Shopping Center, which is being renovated and is expected to be completed next fall. Officials also told The Post and Courier about plans to build a store in northern Goose Creek, marking the company's first location there.
The company reportedly is also working on a store in Summerville, near where U.S. Highway 17A intersects with S.C. Highway 61.
Another Harris Teeter supermarket is part of a planned shopping center called Six-Mile Marketplace in Mount Pleasant, according to documents filed with the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Developer Gary Shahid declinedto comment on the details, but plans show a 53,282-square-foot store for the Matthews, N.C.-based chain at U.S. Highway 17 and Six Mile Road.
A few weeks ago, developer Tom Fox of Greenville posted a sign on Johns Island announcing that a Harris Teeter grocery store is in the works at River Road and Maybank Highway. That shopping center doesn't have an opening date, he said.
Fox also is working on a 53,000-square-foot Harris Teeter supermarket at the entrance to the Rivertowne subdivision on S.C. Highway 41 in Mount Pleasant. Construction could begin later this fall, he said.
Fox said he couldn't speak for the company, but he speculated that Harris Teeter is looking to expand into areas where its customers live. Company officials are able to track that type of information through its frequent-shopper program.
"You plot out where your customers are coming from, and you determine where there's a need," Fox said.
Some of the future grocery stores are in well-established residential areas. The West Ashley store, for example, will be surrounded by older neighborhoods, while the two stores in Mount Pleasant are in areas that have grown rapidly in the past decade.
Other proposed locations are near potential hot-beds of future residential growth.
The Goose Creek store will be part of the Carnes Crossroads development, near a busy intersection in what is now a largely rural part of Berkeley County. But thousands of homes are proposed within a few miles of that location, said Julie Dombrowski, spokeswoman for the Daniel Island Co., which is developing the residential portion of Carnes Crossroads.
Based on those projections, it's a "great ground-floor opportunity" for grocers like Harris Teeter, she said.