All meat is cut in-house at the Save-A-Lot that just opened in Blasdell.
BLASDELL — Suzanne Schmitz has worked at Save-a-Lot since she was 16 years old, growing up in North Collins. She started out working for the Horrigan-owned stores and has been with the Save-a-Lot family ever since.
“It was the local grocery store,” she said. “I started there and moved up the ranks. It’s all I know.”
With her fourth location, which opened in Blasdell on June 25, Schmitz has gotten to know the business well.
“We’re joining a great family of stores out here,” she said, of the Lake Avenue location.
“It’s like a little small town here, tucked in between Hamburg and Lackawanna. I’ve loved this site for a long time. With Jubilee closing, they were dying for a grocery store here.”
The store is located in the former Hills space, which had been standing vacant for 15 years.
“You’d be amazed what happens when a building is left unattended, unheated for 15 years,” she said. “It was just this big, empty hole. Everything was started from scratch, from the floors up. It’s all brand-new.”
With other stores at French and Union streets in West Seneca, Mount Morris and Ontario, Schmitz said she has opening a new location down to science, and she is thrilled with the reception in Blasdell, so far.
“It’s really one of the only chains that’s expanding in the area. There are lots of complicated things. We signed a lease in December and we’ve been working in here for months.
It’s incredible. When we opened, people were really chomping at the bit to get in here. I was a little worried, because of our location, but I couldn’t be happier.”
In order to increase the store’s visibility, Schmitz got a variance from the town board to put a sign on the building at the end of the highway, so cars can see it from the Milestrip exit off the thruway.
“That way, people can see us when they’re on their way off the highway and stop by, maybe on their way home from work,” the owner explained.
She said she is proud of her managers, many of whom have been with Save-a-Lot since they were teenagers, like her.
The owner credited the high retention rate to good human relations.
“We treat them right, so they treat us right. We’re a family,” she said.
Of her 18 or so local cashiers and stock employees, Schmitz said they are all locals too, adding to the neighborhood feel.
“Nobody is driving more than 10 minutes to get to work,” she said, of the Blasdell crew. “This is my life. These are my kids. We’re very lucky.”
As for the product on the shelves, Save-a-Lot bases its mission on high value and low prices, but Schmitz emphasized the in-store meat cutting, as well.
“We cut all of our meats in-house,” she said. “A lot of the other stores, it’s all pre-cut, pre-packaged. Ours is fresh. Nobody is doing that, anymore.”
She advertises specials on a sandwich board at the street, which drives traffic into the store, but she said so far, getting carts through the door has not been a problem.
“We’re glad to be here, and I think the community is happy to have us.”
Save-a-Lot is located in the Hills Plaza at 4271 Lake Avenue and is open 8 a.m.-9 p.m., Monday-Sunday. The store can be reached at 822-0021.