By Charis Anderson
NEW BEDFORD — Save-a-Lot, a discount grocery chain, opened a new store on Cove Road last month, breathing new life into a shopping plaza that has struggled with vacancies since Shaw’s closed four years ago.
“What we’re seeing is the rebirth of this plaza,” said Mayor Scott W. Lang during a grand-opening celebration Wednesday morning. “This neighborhood benefits greatly by having people in and out of it.”
Lang was joined by state Rep. Antonio F.D. Cabral, City Councilors Joe Lopes, John Saunders and Steve Martins and company officials at Wednesday’s ceremony.
“You’re going to be an essential part of the community,” Lopes told representatives from Save-a-Lot.
The store, which opened Oct. 28, is the chain’s second New Bedford location and third in SouthCoast.
The plaza has been largely vacant since Shaw’s closed in the fall of 2006 just two years after opening.
Save-a-Lot is owned by SUPERVALU, the same company that owns Shaw’s.
“We’ve been working to keep the pressure on to get that space let and to create employment opportunities in the South End,” said Matthew Morrissey, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council.
The store’s opening created 21 jobs, all of which were filled with local hires, according to a company spokeswoman.
According to Morrissey, the Save-a-Lot is filling about a third of the 60,000-square-foot building.
“As a result of Save-a-Lot and the traffic that’s generated, the other space will become more attractive,” he said. “I believe we’ll be hearing about other retail operations coming into the additional 40,000 square feet that’s available.”
Save-a-Lot describes itself as a “hard discount, limited assortment” grocery chain, according to a press release.
It eliminates all “the frills” — it maintains smaller stores with fewer items — in order to create significant savings for customers, according to Chon Tomlin, the chain’s manager of external communications.
Tomlin said shoppers can expect to see savings of up to 40 percent from traditional supermarkets.
According to Lang, the recent openings of Save-a-Lot and another supermarket are driving competition among the city’s grocery stores, thus fashioning the city as a grocery center.
“New Bedford is a place that people are coming (to) to shop for their household groceries,” he said.
November 11, 2010 12:05 AM