Save-A-Lot plans to fill void left by Publix
By SHARON L. BOND
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 17, 2000
ST. PETERSBURG -- Save-A-Lot, a 900-store grocery chain, is opening a store in the Coquina Key Shopping Plaza in late February or early March.
The self-described "limited-assortment grocery" will take about 60 percent of the space vacated by a Publix grocery store in July. The plaza is located at 4350 Sixth St. S.
Nearby residents objected to Publix leaving. About 2,000 signed a petition asking the Lakeland-based grocery chain to continue operating the store for the southeast St. Petersburg neighborhood. Publix opened there in 1958.
However, Publix officials said the Coquina Key Plaza store was not making enough money and closed it July 30.
Save-A-Lot is based in Missouri and has stores in 36 states. Seventy of them are in Florida. The three in Pinellas County are in St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Dunedin.
The chain does not like to be known as a discount grocer, although it advertises that its lower-priced products save 40 percent on the average grocery bill.
"We have tremendous buying power. We are not a dent-and-resell," said Dan Kimack, manager of corporate communications for Save-A-Lot. He said about 85 percent of products in a Save-A-Lot are manufactured for the company's own label. Save-A-Lot also sells some brand items.
Products are displayed in boxes in a Save-a-Lot rather than on shelves, and customers must bag their own groceries.
Kimack said the Coquina Key Save-A-Lot will sell fresh produce and meats as well as canned and boxed goods.
"You won't find a floral department or a bank inside our stores. You'll find great food at great prices," said Kimack, adding that Save-A-Lot can provide 97 percent of what a grocery shopper needs.
Linda Young is not convinced of that. She lives within walking distance of the Coquina Key Plaza and shopped at Publix. Her impression is that Save-A-Lot is a discount grocer.
"I don't know much about Save-A-Lot. The places I've shopped that sound like the equivalents don't carry the grade of meat I buy or the grade of fresh fruits and vegetables I buy," Miss Young said. "It doesn't sound like my kind of store."
Susan Hastings was one of the organizers of the petition drive to keep Publix at Coquina Key. She says that if Save-A-Lot has fresh vegetables and meats, it will be a suitable replacement for Publix.
"It will be great to have something there," Hastings said, adding that for people like herself who don't drive, a grocery at Coquina Key is a necessity.
Hastings rode her bicycle to Publix and said she now rides it to a nearby Kash n' Karry or gets rides from friends to other groceries in the area.
"We are all anxious to have something there," she said.
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111
From the Times
South Pinellas desks