Save-a-Lot makes grocery shopping more convenient

Amadeus Smith

Instead of sweaters and toolsets, many Kent residents have the opening of the new Save-a-Lot at the top of their Christmas lists this year.

“It’s like a Christmas gift,” Kent resident Robert Wright said. “I’m just waiting for the doors to open.”

Wright said the new grocery store will end the transportation woes of senior residents who are unable to operate vehicles — a large segment of the community.

Ward 3 Councilman Wayne Wilson said residents without transportation have been using PARTA buses to travel to Stow and Franklin Township to buy groceries.

But it isn’t just the senior residents that will benefit from the new Save-a-Lot, which will open in University Plaza at 140 Cherry St.

“It’s going to be a benefit to the community as a whole,” Wright said.

Wright said at times he chooses not to make the trip to the grocery store because it’s too far to drive.

Wilson said before Giant Eagle’s closing, if he needed to just pick up a few groceries, he would simply walk to the store.

However, if residents, walking or driving, needed to pick up a few common goods, like milk and bread, they haven’t had to travel far.

Since Giant Eagle’s closing earlier this year, Rite Aid Pharmacy, which occupies University Plaza as well, began to stock its shelves with more milk, eggs and bread to accommodate the residents who normally shopped at Giant Eagle.

“It saved us gas, and it saved us time,” Wright said.

Along with convenient grocery shopping for Kent residents, Save-a-Lot, which will be the only grocery store in Kent, will also have some effect on the city’s revenue.

“It’s (the new grocery store) not going to fix the budget strains or anything, but it will definitely have an impact immediately,” Wilson said.

Community Development Director Gary Locke said all employees will pay a 2 percent income tax to the city. The new store is particularly important because most of the city’s revenue is generated from income tax.

The loss or gain of a large store in a plaza such as University Plaza could have some spin-off effects as well, Locke said.

He said losing an anchor store such as Giant Eagle may result in less traffic in the area. This in turn could cause business to decrease and make it more difficult to operate on a profit.

“If you go down there during the weekday when the theaters aren’t operating, especially with the grocery store closed now, there’s really not that much activity down at the plaza,” Locke said.

Another result of bringing in Save-a-Lot specifically is the possibility of having grocery stores in Kent.

Locke said because Save-a-Lot targets a certain segment of the market, there will be an opening for a second store that is looking at the entire market.

It is this same reason that Save-a-lot actually set up shop in Kent.

Locke said it has been difficult to attract other potential stores because of the Wal-Marts in the area.

He said he believes many businesses see Wal-Mart as too much competition, and with several surrounding Kent, other stores have not shown any interest.

But Save-a-Lot, because of it’s specified segment of the market, is not threatened by larger stores such as Wal-Mart.

Contact city editor Amadeus Smith at [email protected].