Bare shelves at Echo Park market raises worries among shoppers and workers

The days before Thanksgiving usually finds most grocery stores jammed with everything from boxes of stuffing mix to frozen turkeys. But the scene is quite different at Echo Park’s Save-A-Lot market, where one-week before the holiday the dairy and other refrigerated sections are nearly empty and many other shelves are only partially stocked. It’s been this way for more than a week at the store located on Sunset Boulevard near Logan Street. The depleted inventory has prompted concern and speculation among workers and shoppers that the store, which opened in 2008, might be closing.  But one worker said the sparsely stocked shelves are the result of a dispute between the national Save-A-Lot chain and the franchisee that operates the Echo Park store.

Save-A-Lot spokesman Chon Tomlin did not  say whether there was a dispute but did say there is no indication that the store will close. “We have not received any notification from our retailer that this location is closing and we will continue to work with the operator to address operational concerns.”

The Echo Park Save-A-Lot opened in part of the building that was once home to Pioneer Market, which closed in 2004 after more than 60 years in business.


  1. I noticed this a few nights ago and do a lot of shopping here as it is close to my house and I don’t have a car. For anyone in the same position looking for an alternative, the “A” Grocery Warehouse is huge, affordable and well stocked with anything you could possibly need:


  2. I still miss Pioneer Market. Unwilling to cross picket lines during that major supermarket strike in 2004 Pioneer and Trader Joe’s were my only options.

  3. I was wondering about this. I went to that market a couple of days ago to buy cat food and nothin! My kingdom for a fresh and sleazy or a Trader Joes to appear where Save a lot is! That place is the pits!

  4. I remember when I went into Pioneer Market for the first, maybe 20 years ago, I fell in love immediately. I still miss that place…

  5. The SaveALot/Wallgreens strip mall is such a blight. The rest of Sunset has pretty good, walkable urbanism…lots of little shops, restaurants, and bars fronting the street. It generally feels good to walk down Sunset- lots of interesting nooks and crannies. And then you get to Sunset/Echo Park Ave, with this giant, fugly parking lot facing the street. If the grocery and drug store instead fronted the street, with the parking in the rear, it would do a lot for the intersection. But instead, its built the typical suburban way, with the parking out front, despite the fact that Echo Park is a highly urban neighborhood adjacent to downtown, literally in the heart of Los Angeles. I don’t know the history of the property, but I really hope that its a relic of the past, and that it wasn’t built recently. Otherwise, there’s no excuse…its 2010, and planners and developers know better than to do this now.

  6. Pioneer was never “just an option ” for the locals .
    It was all we needed .
    The parking lot was in the back .
    The coins used to make their way down to through the change machine , and I still remember the lighting when my dad would drag me section through section of the store .
    Meat department, bakery, produce section etc…..

    The “market ” that occupies the space now is 1 high fructose corn syrup drink away from being a Wal-Mart . !
    It is so sub-standard !

  7. I worked for Pioneer for 3 years in my youth, Ahh great times…

  8. I hope Save-A-Lot goes under so that we can get a real supermarket up in here. I found this store very disturbing and I think the people of Echo Park deserve better.

  9. All of us who have lived in Echo Park for years are still missing Pionier Market, if they didnt have it, they would order it for you, they gave jobs to local youth like my son, it was his first job, he had to cut his hair, haha. The Leum Family was very very good, great neighbor to our community. Save a buck sucks the big one. all they carry is substandard products from El Salvador. I mean who the heck wants to eat generic corn flakes? Echo Park reserves a great Market. Vons is not in compliance with the Disabilities act, they have no go carts for those who have mobility issues, So I shop trader Joe’s, or we eat out but not in Echo Park. If I have to spend my money give me some respect. I’m paying not begging. Hate RUDE servers, only place I’ll go to is El Compadre’s a little on the $$$ up side BUT the food is fresh, drinks are GREAT! SERVICE is Wonderfull. Oh so is the thai restauant by burger king they are he BOMB!

  10. close it down! close it down! close close close! bring on trader joe’s! bring on tj’s!!!

  11. @Chris L: Bravo!

    The city’s ridiculous parking requirements for retail (10 spaces / 1,000 sq ft) mean that any new retail developed in LA will have an awful, neighborhood killing parking lot.

    My guess is that retailers, forced to pay for large lots to deliver the parking, figure they might as well put it out front, so that customers can see that there is easy parking.

    I just wish that walkable neighborhoods like EP and Silverlake could voluntarily modify the parking requirements so that developers could build innovative retail developments that fit into the street-scape.

  12. @ Chris L. The building and parking lot you see now were built in the mid ’80s, perhaps 1985. The market and other buildings used to front Sunset Blvd., with parking in the back.

  13. TJ’s would be great but I doubt they would build one.

    I would be down for a fresh and easy also.

  14. hmm….maybe EP’ers should start a campaign to have it converted to another brand like Albertsons. Save-A-Lot is owned by SuperValu, which also owns/operates Albertsons, Jewel-Osco and Lucky. Save-A-Lot is their discount brand (think Food-4-Less) and not on the same level as a full service Albertsons with deli, bakery, etc.

  15. I was vey familiar with Pioneer and Pioneer takeout in the ’60’s. What echo park could really use is a Super King. We’ve totally abandoned TJ’s except for cheap wine. Fresh and easy is expensive too and all prepackaged. The new 7/11’s

  16. @Eastsider – Thanks for the info. I’d love to see some old photos of how the corner looked prior to 1985. I’m guessing much better than currently.

    @Moses – Parking is LA’s achilles heel. We build so much of to makes sure that everyone can park everywhere they want to visit, but building so much parking destroys neighborhoods and makes them not worth visiting. Updating parking minimums would be a great start. Cities like San Francisco and DC have gotten rid of them in some neighborhoods and are even flirting with the ideas of parking maximums.

  17. I shop at TJ’s and Super King. That’s it.

  18. Chris L, the “beloved” Pioneer Market is the one who built the giant eyesore in the heart of Echo Park. They tore down the old storefronts and changed the nature of Echo Park for our lifetime. I encountered rude cashiers and unpleasant shopping conditions at Pioneer Market and stopped shopping there 10 years before they closed.

    As for Save-a-lot, I went in there a week after they opened hoping for a local grocery store and the overwhelming stench of rotten vegetables made me turn around and exit. I love the filthy Save-a-Lot van that has been abandoned in the parking lot. Great advertisement! Echo Park does deserve better and I am not talking Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s either. Something clean with decent everyday products is all we ask for.

  19. We have two truck loads coming in on wednesday sorry about the inconvience there was a dispute between the corp and mangment. We hope to have everything back to normal within the next week. Thank you for you patience

  20. Chauncey McHoopenstein

    To all you “close it down” folks….
    Lighten up. Yah, Pioneer was great -but it’s gone.

    & while Save a Lot isn’t your precious Trader Joes,
    it’s a decent market run by nice people (who care and work
    very hard) & is a much better business to have in that
    location than a multitude of other likely possibilities. (such as a Chuck E. Cheese, Dominos Pizza, etc. -which are realistic worst case scenarios)

    Go ahead and mourn Pioneer (I do) and long for a TJ’s (would be nice. not gonna happen), but appreciate what you’ve got -which is a much needed/used market for Echo Park that would be missed if they left.

  21. an update on this. I live in EP and while save a lot isn’t the greatest market I did find it totally adequate for staple items. Was in there tonight and the shelves were bare and I asked the clerk about it and they said they were closing at the end of the month.

    Don’t know if it’s true or not but thats what he said.

  22. I talked to a staff last month and was told that the store will be closing soon. It is very sad because I go there all the time and the price is right. I hope it will re-open soon.

  23. @Chris L. Go the the EP Historical Society website, and type in Pioneer in the search. You’ll find an image of the front of the old Pioneer Mkt. on Sunset & EP. By the way I thought that you moved out of EP.

  24. I’m down for fresh and sleazy

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