Libby Young had been planning to retire in the near future. She didn’t think it would be this near.
Young, manager of the Save a Lot Food Store in South Strabane Township, said word came down Wednesday that corporate was closing her grocery in four days. The store, in Gabe’s Plaza along Route 19, will shut down around 5 p.m. today.
Asked for a reason Saturday, Young said simply: “Just the competition. There’s an Aldi’s here (a mile to the south in South Strabane) and Aldi’s just opened in McMurray.” She could have included Giant Eagle, Shop ‘n Save, Walmart, Trader Joe’s and others in the grocery battle royale.
Officials of Save a Lot, a discount supermarket chain based in Earth City, Mo., could not be reached for comment.
Standing at the front of a store she knows inch by inch – “I opened the building in October 1999” – Young was mired in a mix of emotions. She is retiring a little prematurely, but is more upset for the circumstances facing the dozen or so employees and loyal customers affected by the shutdown.
“I’m retiring. That had been in the works, so I’m taking it pretty well,” said Young, of Canonsburg, who declined to be photographed. “But ... it’s still a shock,” she added, a tear forming but not quite escaping.
“I have had a lot of friends here. We’re small enough for people to run in and out and not get mobbed. It was nice for older folks who did not have to walk far to get what they needed.”
She also is wishing for the best for her soon-to-be former employees. Young said she is gratified that “several other” nearby businesses left cards at her store, saying they are interested in hiring some of the dislocated workers.
The local Save a Lot posted word of the pending shutdown almost immediately Wednesday on its Facebook page. The post reads: “Save a Lot is CLOSING. There will be a liquidation sale Thursday, 7/25 thru the weekend. We appreciate the many who shopped with us over the years. We will miss you all.”
Joe Yanniello and his wife, Diana, will miss the store. The Washington couple were broadsided by the news when they entered Saturday.
“We didn’t know until now,” he said, a bit perplexed. “We shop everywhere, wherever we can get a good deal.”
Yanniello found one Saturday, as he transported about a half-dozen jars of peppers in his cart.
Save A Lot, which stands next to Gabe’s department store, had operated previously under a different names, including Buy Low. Now the South Strabane location is about to be mothballed months before its 20th birthday.
The store is scheduled to be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on this final day.