NEW ALBANY — Some New Albany residents say they don’t know where they and their neighbors will get groceries when the only grocery in downtown New Albany closes in two weeks.
A representative of Save A Lot confirmed Friday that the store at 624 State Street will be closing June 20. The Jeffersonville store at 1017 10th Street will remain open.
“We take the decision to close any Save A Lot location very seriously,” according to a statement provided by Sarah Griffin, director of communications with the company. “We review very regularly our stores on a number of factors including financial performance as well as strategic alignment with our long term plan.
She said that unfortunately, the New Albany store is closing based on this review. She confirmed that it was not related to COVID-19, which has affected many businesses across the country.
“We’re very grateful for all of our customers for their loyal support at the location,” Griffin said in the statement. “We look forward to continuing to serve customers at our other locations in the Greater Louisville area.”
But for residents of the neighborhoods surrounding the State Street location, including those in multiple New Albany Housing Authority (NAHA) properties, it may not be as simple as just choosing another store to go to. Some of the residents are lower-income or older, and some don’t have transportation. A grocery in their neighborhood meant they had access to food for their tables.
“I live in a neighborhood where I’ve got to come here,” said Scott Brown, who was shopping Friday at Save A Lot. “Now I’m going to have to find a new grocery store to go to; prices are going to be a little bit higher.”
Brown said his car is being repaired, and his father drives from Louisville to take him to buy groceries. Although there is a smaller discount department store nearby, it’s not a fully stocked store like Save A Lot; it has mostly canned or frozen foods. Brown said there’s not another option for people in this neighborhood for groceries.
“I guess most of them will be catching buses to get way out there to get groceries,” he said.
Although there is a Kroger off of State Street at 200 New Albany Plaza, it may be too far for some, such as those who live at RiverView Towers — a NAHA property for older residents and people with disabilities.
At 500 Scribner Drive, Riverview residents have a four-minute walk or a one-minute drive to Save A Lot, according to Google Maps. To get to Kroger is a four-minute drive, but a walk of 30 minutes or more.
Paula Lindley was shopping Friday at Save-A-Lot, where she’s been a customer for “years and years,” she said.
“I hate for it to go because I can get things here I can’t find anywhere else,” Lindley said. “It’s just going to be a loss.”
She added that she’s worried about the Riverview residents; she used to live there herself and said she knows many of them don’t drive.
“And everybody there depends on this,” she said. “They can’t get to the store, they don’t have a car.
“They won’t be able to get to the grocery store.”
Lindley added that when she was inside, it appeared that things were selling out and not being restocked.
“We went through the store and half the stuff was gone,” she said.
David Kemp, who lives about six minutes away by car, said he’s been going to Save A Lot since they opened decades ago. He said he doesn’t like the bigger stores, because “I don’t like walking 50 miles to get a gallon of milk,” he said. “My son is going to have to do my shopping for me.
“It’s going to make it hard. I’m stocking up now so I don’t have to worry about it when they close.”
Among his selections, Kemp bought a beef roast, which he planned to make last.
“I cut it in three pieces, put it in the freezer then I take one piece out at at time and put it in the crock pot,” he said, adding that he also gets pork loin when it’s available. “It’s great. I can’t afford hamburger and I like that stuff better than hamburger anyway.”
He added that the other small store nearby has some things but not milk, and he recognized that while he has a car, his neighbors who don’t will have a harder go.
“It’s going to make it twice as hard on them as it is me,” he said. “I can drive where I need to go but they can’t go that way. They need another store here closer if they’re not going to have this one.”