New Save-A-Lot draws old customers, 'new faces' on opening day

May 17, 2004|JOHN T. DAVIS

Surrounded by the bustle of Wednesday's grand opening, manager Melody Lunsford gazed with pride across the aisles packed with goods and customers at Save-A-Lot's new Danville store in Heritage Center on East Lexington Avenue.

"This is the top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art Save-A-Lot," Lunsford said, "everything from our registers to the heating and cooling system.

"Danville's been good to Save-A-Lot. It was time to move on and get a new store. We had just outgrown that building."

The new store has room for expanded offerings in perishable goods, such as meat, produce and dairy products, a large "Hispanic section," more brand-name items and seasonal "Special Buys."

"They don't last long," Lunsford said. "That's why they're called 'Special Buys.'"

The store also has a special bargain section.

"We have an aisle through the store where everything is dollar," she said. "That's really been a big hit."

"That building" Lunsford referred to was the old store downtown next to City Hall (and owned by the City of Danville). She got her first job there 22 years ago when the store was operated by Pic-Pic. It was taken over by Save-A-Lot 15 years ago.


It was a mainstay downtown for many older people

During its years downtown, Save-A-Lot was a mainstay for many older people who lack transportation.

Mayme Davis is one of those people who was able to catch a ride to the new store Wednesday.

"I really miss it," she said of the old store. "I live in that neighborhood and I don't have transportation. I really hated to see it go.

"My sister-in-law has a car and we usually shop together, but a lot of senior citizens are going to miss it. You could just walk in there, but I guess we'll make it."

She said the old store was especially convenient for residents of the Arnold Towers senior citizens apartments downtown because they could walk to the store to shop.

But for Save-A-Lot fans Tina Evans and Mark Gastineau, the new store is even more convenient because they live nearby.

"I like it a lot better," Evans said. "It has a bigger selection and its closer for us."

"I think a lot of people will be surprised when they see dollar section," Gastineau said. "It's almost like going to Kroger but cheaper."

Sisters Goldie Coffey and Rose Stallworth were regulars at the old store who were enjoying the new location Wednesday.

"I was just right up the street from the old store," Stallworth said, "and I'm still just right up the street from it."

"I love it already," Coffey said. "I'm impressed with the prices and the sales."

Stallworth said they enjoyed shopping at the old store and shopped there "every time they came out."

But transportation to the new store is not a problem.

"All of us sisters live right in together," she said. "We can usually get in a car and go anywhere."

Standing next to the entrance watching the shoppers come and go, Lunsford said she was pleased with the grand opening. Customers had been trying to get into the store for several days and were waiting in the parking lot at 8 a.m. Wednesday for the 10 a.m. opening.

She said she saw a lot of familiar faces from her 22 years in the downtown store, and "a lot of new faces, too."

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