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10/08/2021

Opie Drive-Thru Grocery opens first store — with more in the works

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
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A high-tech, drive-thru grocery store with a retro theme and big ambitions has opened its first location.

Opie Drive-Thru Grocery has unveiled its first location, in Mount Pleasant, S.C. It’s the first of three stores planned for the Charleston, S.C. area. (The company name comes from “The Andy Griffith Show” television series which ran in the 1960s. Andy’s son, played by Ron Howard, was named Opie.)

Opie, which bills itself as an ultra-fast convenience grocery store, is open 24 hours, seven days a week. Unlike most other stores that offer online grocery pickup, customers do not have to schedule ahead. Instead, they can pull into a parking spot at the store and order from their car using the Opie app. The order is brought out to the car minutes later and there are no fees or order minimums.

For smaller "express orders" customers can order directly with the clerks in the drive-thru lane. Shoppers can also order online on the grocer’s website.

The 3,000-sq.-ft. store features thousands of items, including fresh meats, produce and bakery items. It also has a substantial organic and natural selection.

“Convenience is hard to schedule,” said Scott Thomas, director, Opie Charleston. “That’s why we’re open 24/7 and don't require customers to schedule a pick-up time. Life is spontaneous, and our service responds to that.”

Opie co-founder Tyler Sones said the company is focused on perfecting the high-tech, close-to-consumer “dark store” concept.

“Over 70 million Americans go through a drive-thru every day,” he said. “This is a profitable way to bring real convenience to grocery. So far our biggest fans are busy parents and seniors.”

On its web site, Opie said it is looking for capital partners to continue its aggressive expansion plans.  The company also said it offers a "complete satisfaction" guarantee and will replace any item with an acceptable one or immediately refund the total purchase price. The grocer noted it employs smart energy and water conservation and uses 100% post-consumer recycled paper.

“We recycle 99% of our cardboard and prioritize products that use paper or glass over plastic—overall using 40% less energy than traditional grocery stores,” the company stated. “In partnership with the Lowcountry Food Bank, we help provide weekend meal packs for students who are facing food insecurity," according to a statement on the company's website.”

Opie was founded by group of Citadel graduates looking to offer a more convenient way to shop for groceries. The group said they drew inspiration from a character on The Andy Griffith Show (Andy’ son, played was named Opie).

Thomas came to the company from Chick-fil-A, where he helped launch more than a dozen new stores.