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TOUR: Save-A-Lot - Waterbury, CT

Save-A-Lot
Owner: unknown
Opened: 2010
Previous Tenants: Shaw's (closed 2007)
Location: 205 Union St, Waterbury, CT
Photographed: September 17, 2023
It's time for our final Waterbury store! Just outside of downtown and in an outparcel of the Brass Mill Center mall, Shaw's constructed a roughly 55,000 square foot store around 2000. Under Supervalu's ownership, Shaw's left the state in 2010, selling most of their stores to ShopRite or Stop & Shop. A few went to other supermarkets and still others remained vacant or were turned into non-grocery stores. A few were subdivided, with Save-A-Lot (also owned by Supervalu at the time) taking part of the building. A similar situation played out in Manchester, and that Save-A-Lot closed in 2020 with Key Food coming in soon. In this case, the Shaw's actually closed a few years before the chain left CT, in 2007. In 2020, as Save-A-Lot transitioned away from owning stores and sold all of the locations it owned, this one was sold to a new owner (although I don't know who) who has made the store feel much more like the Compare Foods we saw last week than a traditional discount supermarket.
The 17,000 square foot supermarket still uses the Save-A-Lot name and Save-A-Lot branded items (although we've seen some that don't), although the store format has been changed significantly. My guess is that the stores were sold with a provision that they need to stay Save-A-Lots for a set amount of time, and once that time expires, many of these stores will switch to other brands that are stronger in the New York metro area, like Key Food or CTown. In fact, that may already be happening. A Key Food owner named Anthony Pena bought several stores in Massachusetts and Rhode Island under the name Save-A-Lot in 2021, and the one at 459 Main St in Indian Orchard, MA has recently switched to Key Food. Just a few weeks ago, I was at a Save-A-Lot in New Jersey that had been completely redone to be more like a full supermarket (although there are no service departments), with full grocery shelving and a full line of grocery items, a larger produce department, fresh cut meats, and so on. It appears the Save-A-Lot stores in Orange, Newark, and Hillside might have been sold to the owners of Tropical Supermarkets, given the Urban Meadow products occasionally appearing (Tropical is Key Food and sells Urban Meadow) and the Tropical Supermarket carts that have shown up at the stores.
Produce, meat, and baked goods are here in the first aisle, with sale items facing. The rest of meat and cold cuts are on the back wall, with dairy in the back right corner and continuing with frozen down the last aisle. I'm not sure whether prior to the sale this Save-A-Lot had its own meat room, but it does look like the new owners are cutting meat in-store. But it's pretty easy to see the difference between how the store looks these days -- not unlike the Compare Foods, as I said, or a Key Food or CTown or the like, and how it looked back in 2016. Obviously, it used to look a lot more like a traditional Save-A-Lot, and these days, the merchandising is different. Notice the difference in the produce department, too.
The meat department was expanded into the first aisle when ownership changed, and the old meat department was just this on the back wall. There's of course no bakery here, but there is a case for baked goods like cakes and pastries, which is also new. The grocery aisles are definitely not high-end, but they're also definitely not merchandised like a Save-A-Lot...
We see a much wider selection of products, with the products mostly out on the shelves instead of a much more limited product mix mostly still in its cases. (That linked picture is 2018 in this store.)
There is, though, a section in the last aisle for bulk purchases, to buy large packages or items still in their cases...
But this store also has a lot of name brands and a lot of international foods that the typical Save-A-Lot setup wouldn't use. I have to imagine it's only a matter of time before it switches over to some other group and name.
Dairy and frozen in the last aisle.
And a look at the front-end...
On the other hand, I suppose it's possible that this format is working for this store and there's no reason to switch out of Save-A-Lot. And if Save-A-Lot doesn't mind that some owners are basically running CTowns with different signs, I guess if it ain't broke, don't fix it. We'll be seeing some more Save-A-Lots, as well as some stores that have taken over former Save-A-Lots, so stay tuned! In the meantime, though, we're off to Southington for a former grocery store!

Comments

  1. What I do not understand is why this location still has the 2000s logo despite having the decor package updated. The ones up here that got that same decor package also got the new logo on the building.

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