A Save A Lot grocery store that operated for nearly two years in East Chattanooga closed about a week ago, but ownership is making plans to reopen potentially using a new wholesaler to supply groceries.
Sulman Javid, who is to be the store manager, said Tuesday the intention is to keep it as a neighborhood grocer though it may not be branded as a Save A Lot.
He said he's hopeful the store at 2300 Dodson Ave. can reopen in three to four weeks.
"The goal is to open sooner than later to be helpful to the neighborhood," said Javid in a telephone interview. "All it needs is filling it back up and getting the right management."
Javid said if the store can reopen earlier, management will try to do so, adding that the neighborhood needs the grocer.
"We hope people understand what our vision is," he said. "We need all the help from the neighborhood. It's crucial."
Javid said businesses are challenged in the post-coronavirus period in terms of staffing and other issues.
The store, opened by local businessman Chaudry Ali in November 2020 in an investment estimated at $2 million, is seen as meeting a need in a part of Chattanooga that city officials had labeled a "food desert." The neighborhood had lacked a full-service store selling fresh meat and vegetables.
Jermaine Freeman, the city's economic development officer, said Ali told him last week the store would close temporarily.
"He had issues with the store operation that he basically needed to work through," said Freeman by phone. "My understanding is the closure is temporary and not permanent."
He said the store isn't corporate owned but rather run by the small business owner.
In 2019, the city's Industrial Development Board awarded a $30,000 grant to improve the exterior of the building, which formerly held a Sunnytown Supermarket that closed in 2014.
The grant came from the Renewing Chattanooga program, which provided funds to businesses for blighted properties in under-served parts of the city.
Freeman said then the program's money came from a fund that larger companies pay into as part of securing city property tax breaks under payment in-lieu-of-tax agreements when developing a project.
He said city officials care a lot about people having access to fresh food.
"It was always important to us to see a grocery store," Freeman said, noting that it was key to the revitalization in the Glass Street corridor.
Also, Nippon Paint USA is building a new plant nearby at the former Harriett Tubman public housing site in a $61 million project.
The 270,000-square-foot factory is to supply the $1.6 billion Toyota/Mazda auto plant in Huntsville, Alabama.
"Once Nippon opens, you'll see more traffic going in and out of that area," Freeman said.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.