Belpre Save-A-Lot closing doors on Sept. 1

Photo by Evan Bevins Belpre Save-A-Lot cashier Vickie McComas, right, loads a shopping cart as Little Hocking resident Joe McCutcheon, left, and his wife, Juanita, place items on the conveyor belt Friday afternoon. The McCutcheons are among the regular customers sorry to see the store closing Sept. 1.

BELPRE — Residents of Belpre and surrounding areas will lose a grocery shopping option when Save-A-Lot closes its doors Sept. 1.

“We’ve been here 40 years,” owner Herman Richardson said. “The community treated us good. We appreciate it.”

Richardson said he is 90 and his three children that work at the store are in their 60s, so they’re all of retirement age. A change in the franchise’s offerings after Save-A-Lot was purchased in 2016 by Canadian private equity firm Onex Corporation was a key factor in the decision to close, he said.

“They’ve discontinued so many items it didn’t leave us enough to stay open,” Richardson said.

Following the closure, Richardson said, the store will be sold in an auction on Sept. 5.

Photo by Evan Bevins Belpre Save-A-Lot manager Cindy Gabriel stands at a cash register at the store Friday. Her father, Herman Richardson, has owned the store 40 years and said it will be closing Sept. 1.

Until this week, Belpre Save-A-Lot employed 23 people, but the numbers have been reduced, he said.

“We’ve sold the merchandise down to where we just don’t need anybody,” Richardson said.

The store initially operated as a Foodland before switching over to Save-A-Lot after 18 years, he said.

Richardson’s daughter, Cindy Gabriel, manages the store.

“We’ve had a lot of good customers that we’ve grown up with over the years,” she said.

Photo by Evan Bevins Shopping carts are lined up Friday outside the Belpre Save-A-Lot. The store will close Sept. 1.

Many people walk to the store or come there on golf carts or even a riding lawnmower.

“It’s a sad thing, especially in this neighborhood,” cashier Vickie McComas said of the closing.

Not all the customers are nearby neighbors though.

“We hate to see them go,” said Little Hocking resident Joe McCutcheon, who was shopping Friday with his wife, Juanita. “It’s been a great store. … We shop here a lot.”

Pomeroy resident Linda Lute said she often stops at Save-A-Lot when she has an appointment in Belpre because the “food’s more reasonable.” News of the impending closure disappointed her.

Photo by Evan Bevins Pomeroy resident Linda Lute, left, pays cashier Vickie McComas for her purchase Friday at the Belpre Save-A-Lot. The store is closing Sept. 1.

“There’s so many stores that (are) closing, it’s disgusting,” Lute said.

Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz noted Save-A-Lot’s low prices didn’t just appeal to the average shopper. Belpre Area Ministries purchases items for its food bank there.

“It’s disappointing because that’s such a handy store,” Lorentz said. “Anytime you lose a business it’s not good, but especially that one.”