West Duluth bargain hunters bemoan closing of discount groceryDe Boshey took the news hard. “I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said Saturday as she put her groceries into her car outside the West Duluth Save-A-Lot, which is closing next month.
By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune
De Boshey took the news hard.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said Saturday as she put her groceries into her car outside Save-A-Lot in West Duluth.
A neighborhood resident and frequent customer at the discount grocer at the Spirit Valley Mall, Boshey had just learned the store would be closing in early January. She and her daughter, Marne Johnson, have been shopping at the store since it opened in 2006.
Employees were notified on Friday, and by Saturday customers were being told as well.
Not only does Boshey save a lot of money on her own groceries at Save-A-Lot, she said, but she works for elderly people and saves them money on food, too.
She boasted that she had just bought four pounds of sugar for $1.79. “That’s cheap,” she said.
On Saturday, the store also was selling apples for 99 cents a pound, oranges and pears for $1 each and packs of four butter quarters for $1.99.
The store, part of a chain of 1,300 stores nationwide, is owned and operated by longtime regional grocers Gary and Bob Paulson.
Although customers were being told the store would close Jan. 11, Gary Paulson said Saturday the exact day hasn’t been determined.
“We’ll close when our inventory is gone,” he said. “It could go longer than that. We’re having sales to get rid of the inventory.”
A sale of 10 percent off everything in the store kicks off today.
Save-A Lot, a wholly owned subsidiary of Supervalu Inc., offers meat, produce, dairy, frozen foods and general grocery items.
The West Duluth store is closing because the Paulson family is getting out of the grocery business and their lease will be up, Gary Paulson said. The Paulson family has been in the grocery business for four generations, spanning 70 years, he said.
Their move away from the grocery business has been underway for some time. In spring 2012, the Paulson brothers sold four grocery stores to Hermantown-based Miner’s Inc., owners of the Super One stores. The stores sold were Paulsons’ Super Valu in Pike Lake, Super Valu stores in International Falls and Crosby, Minn., and the County Market in Ashland.
That left Save-a-Lot as their last grocery store and the only discount grocery business they have operated.
The store’s inventory reduction apparently has already begun. Boshey said the number of products on the shelves has been thinning out in the last couple of weeks.
About a dozen employees will lose their jobs — something that saddens Boshey, who said they are a helpful, hardworking staff.
“I don’t know why more people don’t shop here; it’s cheaper,” said customer Donald Baxton of West Duluth. “I like it. It’s convenient. I’d rather see it open and wish it would stay open.”
But he took the news of its closing in stride.
“I just go with the flow,” he said. “I can’t stop it.”
Boshey said she’ll have to drive farther, to Wal-Mart, for discounted food prices when Save-A-Lot closes. Wal-Mart is among the discount stores that has expanded its food offerings in recent years, providing more competition for stores like Save-A-Lot.