From its start in 1977, Save A Lot contended with grocery competitors by promising low-priced, high-quality food. The value food company was the "fastest-growing retail chain behind Walmart" by 2004 with over 1,000 stores across the country, primarily in low-income areas. Today, consumers nationwide rely on Save A Lot to stock their homes with affordable, fresh staples.
But shoppers will soon see a shake-up. The mission-driven grocery giant announced its conversion to a wholesale business model in December 2020 after a tumultuous year, according to Supermarket News. Stores have been shut down permanently since before the pandemic, and more followed in 2020 and into 2021.
The new plan includes selling 300 corporate stores to independent retailers while continuing to provide healthy offerings at budget-friendly prices. The company aims to transition most stores by the end of 2021, but a few regions have already felt the shift. Residents of Dayton, Ohio saw an unexpected shutdown of their location in early October. Many consumers without access to a car worry they will struggle to find a comparable alternative.
Last year, locals expressed similar concerns when Save A Lot closed in Austin, a low-income Chicago neighborhood. When it left it created a food desert—an area where nourishing and economical food options are hard to come by.
"There are stores around on the West Side of Chicago, but for people that depend on public transportation or walking to Save A Lot, this will be devastating," State Representative La Shawn Ford said.
Despite the concern around closing more stores, the company has high hopes for the future. "This refresh positively supports our efforts to further evolve and gain new shoppers, retain our current shoppers and increase our basket size," said Save A Lot CEO Kenneth McGrath in a July 2021 newsletter.
However, not all of the discount grocer's sold-off stores will leave loyal shoppers high and dry. In July 2021, 32 corporate locations transferred ownership to Yellow Banana, another grocery chain eager to "invest in underserved, predominantly minority communities" in Cleveland, Chicago and Milwaukee. Yellow Banana plans to remodel locations in 2022 and hire local staff.
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