The Save A Lot grocery store in downtown Waterville, shown Monday, is scheduled to close June 1, according to its owner, who said the store is not drawing enough business. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — The Save A Lot grocery store that has touted lower prices and catered to the elderly and people who do not drive is scheduled to close June 1 in downtown Waterville.

The store, located at The Concourse, is not drawing enough business, according to Zak Sclar, CEO of eight Food City grocery stores and Save A Lots in Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont. He said he could not continue to keep subsidizing the Waterville location.

“It hasn’t been financially sound for years,” Sclar said Monday. “We just couldn’t get enough support in the downtown. We tried.”

Sclar said the rent also was going to increase in June and it was not feasible to continue operating.

“We didn’t take the decision lightly, and we kept it open many years longer than we should have because we care about our employees and knew the convenience factor for elderly and walking customers,” Sclar said. “There’s just so much we could do. It’s been a struggle.”

Mayor Jay Coelho said Monday it is tough to see a small grocery store close. Rents are becoming high everywhere, he said.


“I’m thankful that he was able to try to put something in to help the residents of the city,” Coelho said. “Obviously, not enough people are walking there. The prices are great. I go to Save A Lot all the time when I’m downtown.”

The store at 20 Concourse West opened in April 2012, with then-Gov. Paul LePage, a former Waterville mayor, city officials and others celebrating its arrival. They cited a longtime need for another grocery store downtown. Joseph’s Market at 74 Front St. was, and continues to be, the only other such store downtown.

Sandwiched between Dollar General and Inland Family Care, Save A Lot was the first grocery store to open at The Concourse in many years, after Shop ‘n’ Save, formerly Cottle’s Food Center, closed at the south end of the mall where the Goodwill Store is now located.

Sclar said the 12 Save A Lot employees will be offered jobs at other Food City stores, although that might not be feasible for some workers because the closest store to Waterville is in Farmington.

The only other Save A Lot store of which Sclar is CEO is in Lewiston, he said. His Food City stores are in Bridgton; Lisbon Falls; Livermore; Turner; Wilton; Montague, Massachusetts; and St. Albans, Vermont.

Sclar said the Waterville location will begin discounting prices on products to clear inventory.


When the store opened in 2012, Sclar said the groceries were 40% off regular prices and the business prided itself on selling quality meats.

The property is owned by HK Maine Properties LLC, based in Florida, according to the city assessor’s office.

Garvan Donegan, director of planning, innovation and economic development for the Central Maine Growth Council, said Monday he anticipates strong demand for the commercial real estate space at The Concourse.

‘This is especially true given the shortage of move-in ready, first floor, larger square footage options in the downtown district, which have generated steady inquiries and leads,” Donegan wrote in an email.

He said the location’s access to convenient parking and the increasing activity on Main Street make it an attractive prospect for businesses.

“Furthermore, its position within both a Qualified Opportunity Zone and existing Downtown Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District, as well as its eligibility for a range of economic development programs and platforms, including Waterville’s Facade & Building Improvement Grant Program, presents a unique opportunity for growth and development of downtown enterprises,” according to Donegan.

He said that over the years, Waterville has seen a diverse range of businesses express interest in similar properties in the downtown area, including general retail, grocery-type uses and other commercial operations.

“With Save A Lot’s transition, we expect to see continued interest from existing businesses and new players looking to take advantage of the property’s location and proximity to downtown activity,” Donegan said. “We believe that 20 Concourse represents an excellent opportunity for businesses seeking a prime location in downtown, with the added benefits of eligibility for various programs and grants.”

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