North Texas Daily

Community affected by grocery store limbo

Community affected by grocery store limbo

Community affected by grocery store limbo
October 08
23:59 2014

Dalton LaFerney / Senior Staff Writer

When news surfaced of UNT’s interest in purchasing Sack & Save’s property, it came as a surprise to the employees and shoppers who rely on the store.

“This is how we help support our families,” said Ken Pulliam, assistant manager at Sack & Save. “Unemployment is a poor substitute.”

For the store’s 45-50 employees, there is uncertainty as the legal proceedings are soon to begin. Pulliam said he’s been at the location for 12 years, and has never been a part of something like this.

“We don’t know how long the procedures are going to take,” he said.

Customers, made up of nearby students and Denton locals, are concerned with the possible closure of the store, as the proximity to campus and product prices influence them to shop with the store.

“I shop there because it’s cheaper than regular grocery store,” biology sophomore Gracy Biggs said. “It’s really close to my apartment, so it’s easier to go there instead of Wal-Mart. I’ll be disappointed [if it closes] because that’s how I save a lot money.”

Shoppers have shown concern for the store, seeking answers from employees. 

“I get stopped every day by people wanting to know what’s going on, and if we are going to close,” Pulliam said. “I tell them it’s uncertain. They hope we don’t close because they’ve shopped here for years.”

The property is owned by the Remington Partners, a real estate group, and is leased by Gary Shelton. Neither the property owner nor Shelton responded for comment.

The store has seen an increase in revenue.

“It’s a shame now that sales are going up and things are looking better for us that we may be out of business anyway,” Pulliam said.

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Forensic science student Maryann Torres picks out apples at Sack & Save. Torres says there aren’t many other convenient options for groceries near campus. Torres does not have a car and says public transportation doesn’t go to Wal-Mart.

Sack & Save has a variety of Hispanic products, and is known for its produce and meat departments. The low prices are enough to attract students, but the location brings them inside.

However, not only students seek the locality. Timothy Smith, a representative of the financial services organization Modern Woodmen, said the store sits in a low-income area of Denton.

“I wouldn’t necessarily deem Sack & Save as the most affordable,” Smith said. “They sell more generic brand names due to the fact that the constituency that shops there is primarily low-income earners. Most of the products at Sack & Save are WIC approved, making it a place to get food that is near much of the Section 8 housing in Denton.”

If the store were to shut down, a manager at the Brookshire’s in Denton said the store has the capacity to hire Sack & Save employees, but would base employment on merit. La Azteca Meat Market, a competitor of Sack & Save’s, said it is looking for cashiers and more assistance in the meat department.

“Usually those who work at grocery stores are living at or below the poverty line and do so because of the hours,” Smith said. “It allows them to still see their kids and not have to take graveyard shifts.”

Not only will grocers look to hire the Sack & Save employees, but the Denton economy would use them in some capacity, Smith said.

“The manufacturing industry in Denton would absorb some,” he said. “Those jobs are temporal and usually require at least some experience or skill just to be competitive.”

Most of the reaction from the community has been opposed to UNT’s possible eminent domain move.

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Biology freshman Monica Colchado,right, checks out at the front lanes at Sack & Save.

“Some people have pointed out, ‘Why don’t they take down the old football stadium and build something there,’” Pulliam said. “On the other side of the highway across from the Peterbilt plant, they have land that hasn’t been used in years. We’d like to hold on as long as possible.”

System Chancellor Lee Jackson said Sack & Save’s location made it ideal for what UNT was looking for, though he didn’t know precisely what that was.

“A site on the south side of campus, conveniently located, may be far better for those community visitors to campus than parking in the center of campus in many different locations and finding their way to different buildings,” Jackson said.

Jackson said the school has alternative sites in mind. UNT students have spoken out against the plan with a Facebook group “SAVE Sack & Save” with more than 100 likes.

Also interested in the Sack & Save property is the Texas Department of Transportation, which would use it in its I-35 expansion.

“There is a portion of the Sack & Save parking lot that is required for the process,” said Kimberly Sims, public information manager for TxDOT. “However, the piece of the parking lot we need should not impact operations of the store.”

There is not yet a timeline for the TxDOT or UNT plans.

Featured Image: Sack & Save assistant manager Ken Pulliam doesn’t know if his store will be around next year. Photos by Byron Thompson – Senior Staff Photographer

About Author

Dalton LaFerney

Dalton LaFerney

Dalton is the editor of the Daily.

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