Listen to conversation over lunch in the Blue Ridge Restaurant or Oddfellas and, sooner or later, Food Lion will come up.

The debate usually centers around whether or not opening a Food Lion grocery store in Floyd is (1) good for the economy or (2) the beginning of the end of life as we know it in the town.

When the Food Lion opens this spring, it won’t be the first chain grocery to open in the county. Piggly Wiggly was here many years ago in the space now occupied by Farmers. Slaughters has an affliation with Galaxy supermarkets but it is still a locally-owned grocery store.

But Food Lion is opening, after the kind of long, protracted battle that precedes any change in a town like Floyd. Some see it as a boon, with real competition that should drive prices down while others see it as just another example of Floyd losing its local charm.

You heard some of the same uproars when Hardees dropped one of its fast-food franchises into Floyd and, to a lesser degree, when Subway came to town. But locals still go to DJ’s Drive-In for burgers and Mama Lazardos for deli sandwiches. The world did not end when those two franchises invaded Floyd’s inner sanctum.

“What’s next, a Wal-Mart?” The question came from a woman at Blue Ridge Restaurant recently. Not likely. Wal-Mart already has stores in Christiansburg and Galax and the chain likes high-traffic areas, something Floyd is not.

And don’t expect to see a Starbucks opening on the corner of Main and Locust any time soon. Floyd Countians like their coffee hot, black and without fancy names like latte or espresso (although there is a coffee shop slated to open soon in Winter Sun and Harvest Moon plans one on the second floor of their new building).

More than anything else, the opening of Food Lion in Floyd means fewer countians will be shopping at one of the chain’s other locations outside the county. On a recent Saturday, I counted 29 cars with Floyd County stickers in the Food Lion in Hillsville.

Most folks shop at different grocery stores for different types of food. That won’t change when Food Lion opens. It will just make it more convenient.