By 1955, Buchan quickly expanded by opening stores in the North Carolina cities of Asheville, Charlotte, and Durham. More stores opened through the 1950s.
In 1960, Buchan died of a heart attack at the age of 44. His five-man executive team, which included Robert Strickland and Leonard Herring, took the company public in 1961. By 1962, Lowe’s now operated 21 stores and reported annual revenues of $32 million. Lowe’s began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in 1979.
Lowe’s suffered in the 1980s due to market conditions and increasing competition from the new big-box store chain The Home Depot. For a while, Lowe’s resisted adopting the mega-store format partly because Lowe’s management believed the smaller towns where Lowe’s mostly operated would not even support huge stores. However, Lowe’s eventually had to adopt the big-box format in order to survive. Today, most Lowe’s stores are part of the big-box variety, although some classic format stores remain in smaller markets.
Lowe’s has since grown nationally, as it was aided by the purchase of the Renton, Washington-based Eagle Hardware & Garden company in 1999.] It is now the 2nd-largest home improvement store chain in North America and has begun expanding outside the United States, starting with the Southern Ontario area. The first store outside of United States was in Hamilton, Ontario at the intersection of Barton Street and Woodward Avenue.