Lowes Foods started in 1954 in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, with a single store opened by Jim Lowe (former co-owner of Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse, and son of its founder). Lowe sold that store to J. C. Faw. Expansion in Wilkesboro and the mountain regions of NC shortly followed. In 1984, the chain was sold to Merchants Distributors, Inc. (MDI) a grocery distributor based in Hickory, North Carolina. After MDI bought Institution Food House, in 1992, MDI reorganized as a holding company, Alex Lee, Inc. , with MDI, IFH and Lowes Foods as subsidiaries. It was named for Alex and Lee George, sons of the MDI founder.