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HICKORY, N.C. -- Lowes Foods, a Winston-Salem, N.C.-based grocery chain with more than 100 stores in the Carolinas and Virginia, opened its first gas station here on 29th Avenue NE in the parking lot of one of its stores, to provide its customers added convenience, the Winston-Salem Journal reported.

"We have opened the fuel station as another added convenience for our customers," Dianne Blancato, a spokeswoman for Lowes Foods, told the paper. "It makes it very easy for them to come and do their shopping and fuel up with fuel while they are there. They don't have to go to another location and drive any farther to do that."

The supermarket chain told the Journal it has received positive response from its customers and area residents. The station features 12 pumps selling three grades of fuel and diesel, and a kiosk that offers convenience items such as cigarettes, packaged beverages and ice, the report stated.

The grocer also offers customers fuel rewards through its Lowes Foods Rewards loyalty program at the store. Blancato told the paper having a gas station provides more value to its customers, because the chain can offer special prices based on purchases at the grocery store.

Consumer response and initial sales have prompted the company to explore its options to add fuel stations at Lowes Foods stores in other markets. It plans to open the second Lowes Foods Fuel Center in Gastonia, N.C., in February.