New Save A Lot Addresses Food Desert In North St. Louis | St. Louis Public Radio

New Save A Lot Addresses Food Desert In North St. Louis

Oct 24, 2019

Save A Lot, the discount grocery retailer based in St. Ann, has opened a new store on the corner of Union and Page boulevards. 

Alderwoman Shameem Clark Hubbard, who represents the city’s 26th Ward, said the store will address the food desert in the city’s Hamilton Heights neighborhood.

“There wasn’t in this direct vicinity anywhere where we could buy fresh, healthy, good groceries at good prices,” Hubbard said at a grand opening for the store Thursday. 

“We were at a disadvantage,” she said. “You had to buy groceries from places like convenience stores, gas stations, things of that nature that don’t really typically have not only fresh groceries, but they’re a lot of times overpriced.”

The 17,000-square-foot grocery store will sell produce and meat in an area where residents previously had to travel outside of their neighborhood.

“I love it,” Juanemi Haynes said. “I stay around the corner, and we don’t have a store near here. So I used to shop at Pete’s. I’m so grateful, and I thank the Lord for us having a Save A Lot.”

The lot housed Pete’s Shur-Sav Market until it closed its doors in December 2016.

The new store, which cost $3.5 million, employs about 30 people. Reid Tuenge, the senior vice president of retail operations at Save A Lot, said the store was an opportunity to meet a need.

“Our commitment to our communities is to be that trusted grocer providing high-quality products at incredibly competitive pricing,” Tuenge said. “And this was an area that was underserved when it comes to having those types of opportunities, and it was a perfect place for Save A Lot to be present.”

Resident Bennie Vales-Ammons agreed. She said she's had to drive out of her way to shop.

“We haven’t had one in quite a while, and we have to go a few miles to get to a large-enough store to get necessary food,” she said.

Vales-Ammons said the only thing that was missing from this Save A Lot is the bakery. She said she hopes that will be added down the line.

The new store is getting a personalized touch from two local artists. Local muralist Gonz Jove will design a mural along the retainer wall of the store based on a poem by Arthurine Harris.

Harris said her poem incorporates elements that represent the community, including hope, healing and history. She said in the past, businesses have come in to take from the community, not give.

“I think it will be amazing for kids, elderly, for community members to see that they are a part of the process,” Harris said. “And the mural will show them that this is their store, this is still their community; Save A Lot is just here to provide a service on their behalf.” 

Jove, the muralist, said it’s important for community members to see the rich history in their neighborhood.

“I can see how our neighborhood is going to benefit from something that Save A Lot is doing,” he said. “But we need to keep on going forward and keep on growing, and the mural has to be an inspirational point of view for everybody to see it and be able to come and say, ‘Oh, let’s do some more.'”

Jove expects to begin the mural in the spring.

In the meantime, Save A Lot is hosting a variety of grand-opening activities this weekend, including product sampling and a grocery bag giveaway.

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