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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Save-A-Lot, a discount grocery chain based in St. Louis, opened its first store here today.
The store, a franchise operation, is at Atrisco Plaza at 4201 Central Ave. NW and will employ about 20. This is Save-A-Lot's second New Mexico site; the company also has a location in Los Lunas.
According to the company, Save-A-Lot's edited-assortment method of retailing, smaller-sized stores, and formidable buying power allow its stores to offer shoppers substantial savings on items.
Save-A-Lot is expanding rapidly, with more than 1,200 stores in 38 states. Its format features approximately 14,000- to 16,000-square-foot stores containing 1,400 of the most frequently purchased items, among them fresh meat, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, canned goods and packaged items, and frozen foods, as well as such nonfoods as health and beauty care products. Conventional stores may stock as many as 30,000 items, according to Save-A-Lot manager of corporate communications Dan Kimack. Save-A-Lot stores also have dollar departments offering housewares, hardware, toys, kitchen needs, and seasonal gifts.
"What we do differently is that we carry only the most popular size of each item, either a Save-A-Lot custom brand or a name brand," Kimack said in an interview with Progressive Grocer. "Simply, we've already done some of the shopping for our customers. We continuously track the best-selling items and carry them in the most popular size -- the size and variety you most often stock in pantries, refrigerators, and freezers. For example, we carry one size and variety of whole-kernel corn. That item is a custom brand under the Wylwood label. We retail more than 55 million cans of Wylwood corn annually. It's a Grade A fancy product, the highest rating attainable in canned vegetables. Another example is mustard. We did a study recently and found a local conventional store in St. Louis that carried 70 different sizes and brands. Save-A-Lot carries both yellow and brown mustard, one size and variety of each. This helps us limit overhead and inventory while still meeting the primary needs of our shoppers."
When asked about the company's expansion plans, Kimack said: "As the nation's largest and fastest-growing extreme-value limited-assortment grocery chain, Save-A-Lot plans to open approximately 100 stores annually. To meet this goal, the company will grow by entering new markets such as the Southwest and backfilling existing, successful new markets primarily in the Midwest and east of the Mississippi. We're excited to enter Albuquerque and continue to identify potential sites in and around the city and across the state of New Mexico. As part of our commitment to 'go west' we recently doubled our presence in the Dallas-Fort Worth market with the acquisition of 17 former Grocery Outlet stores. We believe the Southwest is underserved by what Save-A-Lot's unique business model delivers –- high-quality groceries, savings up to 40 percent compared to conventional grocery stores, and a quick, convenient, and fun shopping trip in smaller, neighborhood stores.
"Customer reaction to Save-A-Lot's limited-assortment model has been fantastic, especially in new markets we enter," Kimack added. "Save-A-Lot shoppers enjoy saving money and time, and they enjoy the convenience of walking a smaller store that still meets their everyday needs."
The store, operated by Lawrence Brothers, which also operates several Save-A-Lot locations in Texas, will be open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Save-A-Lot is a subsidiary of grocery wholesaler Supervalu, which acquired the company in 1993. An in-depth examination of the Save-A-Lot chain, as well as the role played by the rapidly growing limited-assortment format in the future of grocery retailing, will run in the print version of Progressive Grocer, in the Oct. 1 issue.
-- Bridget Goldschmidt