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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Echo Park discount grocery store closes doors

Shoppers walking by Echo Park’s Save-A-Lot market on Sunset Boulevard this week have been greeted by closed doors and papered over windows. It’s not clear what led to the sudden closure of the market, which shares a shopping center with a Walgreens drug store at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Echo Park Avenue. A letter from the property manager posted on a window said the locks had been changed after the market “ceased operating from the premises.”  The closure comes a few months after the sight of barren store shelves before Thanksgiving prompted speculation that Save-A-Lot, a franchised outlet connected to a national chain, was about to close the Echo Park store.  The shelves were eventually replenished and the store remained in business until this week.

The Eastsider has contacted Save-A-Lot and representatives of the property owner to find out more details.

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.



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56 comments

  1. well I think this was overdue to even call it a grocery store after november was a stretch.

    Hopefully they open a Trader Joe’s or Fresh N Easy in that space.

  2. It definitely served it’s purpose for a while but it’s offerings have been dismal to say the least for well over a year. A-1 Grocery Warehouse is my go-to for cheap groceries in the neighborhood. I really hope a quality grocery store goes into that spot…we really need it.

  3. This is the best news ever, you just made my year. Thanks Eastsider! Now let’s get a TRADER JOES in there!!!! Or Fresh and Easy!

  4. I remember someone petitioning for Trader Joes in that spot years ago after Pioneer closed. I kind of miss pioneer, even though it smelled pretty bad in there.

  5. I hope Trader Joe’s is paying attention – they would do great business in this spot. The neighborhood desperately needs a place for affordable (hear me Cook Book?) groceries with healthy / organic options (hear me Vons & A-1?) Not sure the super friendly Liquor Store across from this location would dig the competition on wine sales though. I have been thinking how strange it is that so many vegan & vegetarian restaurants are popping up, yet there is not decent grocery stores for this type of food at home.

  6. In my perfect world it would be leased out by an independent co-op. I miss the Wedge in Minneapolis…

  7. “The neighborhood desperately needs a place for affordable (hear me Cook Book?) groceries with healthy / organic options (hear me Vons & A-1?) ”

    This strikes me as the same as the argument I hear where people want to pay less taxes, but still get all the services they want. I think if you want organic, you have to pay a bit more for it. I know that Cookbooks is more $, but I’m still happy to have the option.

    That said, agree with you that it would be great to have a Trader Joe’s in that space.

  8. I AGREE !!!! Hope Fresh ‘n’ Easy or Trader’s comes in.
    Will be so great to have a walk-able store (not Von’s) where we can find fresh produce and healthy options…

    Yipeeeee !!

  9. I predict the city planning commission will use this opportunity to refuse business permits to any grocery store that won’t further promote the gentrification of Echo Park

    So all the folks above suggesting organic stores are, UNFORTUNATELY, onto something. Echo Park is not Silverlake, and it never should be. Go 2 miles over and you can have all the expensive vegan options you want. It’s really close.

    I hope that something very similar to Sav-A-Lot takes this space.

  10. Why do people always mention Trader Joe’s and Fresh n’ Easy in the same breath? Trader Joes is awesome and has healthier and natural versions of pretty much everything for a reasonable price. Fresh n’ Easy is a cheap brand name discount store with barely any selection (like Aldi growing up in the Midwest)… in other words, it’s hardly any different than the Save a Lot that is leaving. I tried going to the Fresh n’ Easy in Eagle Rock several times because it has this “Trader Joe’s-like” reputation, and every time I left empty-handed because I couldn’t find a single item I wanted to buy.

  11. While shopping at the Silverlake Trader Joes, I asked the cashier his thoughts on an eventual TJ’s in Echo Park. He said it’s not going to happen because we don’t “make enough mony, and they don’t want their store tagged constantly.” What a jerk!

  12. @Gina:
    I’ve been told the same thing by the cashiers at Trader Joes — that TJ would never consider coming to Echo Park. Moreover, Trader Joe’s corporate office has pretty much said the same thing. As part of their official corporate policy, Trader Joe’s does not go into low income or lower-income neighborhoods because they don’t believe such a neighborhood can sustain and support a Trader Joes. They will only go into neighborhood with high or (high middle) incomes and (for whatever reason) high level of education. They have done a lot of market research and that is where they are convinced they will succeed. I don’t like this policy; I which they would think of themselves as a grocery story “for the people” but they just don’t. Elitist, I know. Whatever.

    We should try courting a grocery story who will actually want to come here.

  13. Here is an interesting business review article on the Trader Joe’s corporate culture. It states that TJ’s focus is on the “highly educated” consumer because they travel more and will be more interested in what TJ offers. True. But an unspoken corollary is that people with more education and “who travel a lot” tend to have a lot of money. So, yeah. TJs is not intended for the masses.

    http://gbr.pepperdine.edu/2010/08/the-trader-joes-experience/

    Its unfortunate because Echo Park does have a good concentration of well educated consumers; we also have a significant concentration of less educated people who would probably appreciate Trader Joes as well, if they were exposed to it. Too bad that TJs doesn’t see it that way.

  14. Like it or not, TJ’s is out to make a profit and I’d have to agree that I’m not sure there’s a large enough crowd in the neighborhood willing to pay $6 for Organic Frozen Tikki Masala Tarts. Echo Park does need a nice, affordable market in this location but I don’t agree that TJ’s is it. Fresh n’ Easy could be.

    That said, it’s part of why Cook Book is such a great idea and size. I don’t pretend to shop at Cook Book often, but given that it’s shooting for a certain socio-economic clientel, it’s the perfect size and location. Being able to walk to get local milk or veggies? I’ll happily pay a premium.

  15. i’ve thought for a long time that a CO-OP would do well in that space, something with fresh, organic produce and bin-style granola type products, maybe even relationships with farmers and growers for grass-fed beef etc. the coop on broadway and 15th. in santa monica is a fantastic service for the community there, though it might be bit pricey for the old pioneer market space. i’m not sure what the echo park version of that might be, but i’d love to see it!

  16. You can write to Trader Joe’s and let them know you want them to move into that space: http://www.traderjoes.com/about/location-requests-form.asp

  17. Does anybody know when the detailed census figures (on income and education) will be released by the Census? Maybe an argument can be made to TJ’s that Echo Park and surrounding neighborhoods (including Downtown!!!) now have a significant concentration of the coveted “highly educated” consumer who would go to an Echo Park TJs. Its no secret that a significant number of the visitors to the Silverlake TJs travel to it from Echo Park and Downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.

  18. @LJ

    Agreed. I think Fresh N’ Easy is gross.

  19. I too, miss the Pioneer.
    If you are looking for amazingly cheap produce etc.(& are willing to wrestle the crowds of people who come to buy the same) go to Super King on San Fernando Road, a few blocks right (south? East?) of Fletcher.
    Relative to expensive stores, Trader Joe’s is not expensive. Relative to Vons & Ralphs it’s not expensive but has much more interesting stuff. & I’m so happy to see Cookbook making a go of it. I wish I could spend more on food so I could be a regular customer, but they seem to be doing just fine without me because those who can pay for higher quality stuff will do so. See a page on Cookbook in this month’s Sunset magazine, pg. 28, I believe.

  20. Veronica , There is another discount grocery store across the street.

    This is a chance for something nice to open up.

  21. Organic/more health-conscious and affordable do not need to be mutually exclusive. Cookbook is pretty fantastic, for what it’s worth.

  22. This would be perfect for a second location for Figueroa Produce.

  23. TJ’s please.
    I hate going to Silver Lake.
    They need to buy more land just to park cars over there.

  24. i’m pretty sure it will end up either abandoned for a few years, or will turn into a check cashing place or one of those payday advance loan places. just a hunch.

  25. I heard that it is going to become a temple. Not sure for what religion, though. Paperwork has already been submitted to the council and is awaiting approval.

  26. are you ready ! here goes is going to be a chaky cheese 100 to 1 I find out well cant tell 30 years in const. I know lol surprice

  27. The TJ high paying crowd argument does not hold up. That Vons is the most expensive rip off grocery store in the area and people go there. TJ’s is super cheap compared to it. I’m into it. Bring it TJ’s !

  28. What’s all this about intelligent shoppers ?
    “Now we have a significant concentration of intelligent people ”
    What a dumb argument , and an insult to us long timer residents .
    Like my grandparents , parents , and my kids are dumb , so we don’t deserve good grocery store ? What ?
    What planet are you from to have this mentality ?

    Whatever it is , it should be inclusive to all people in the neighborhood like pioneer was .
    Enough of “we need organic”” blah blah blah .
    You need organic ? Go to cookbook , and pay those prices .
    Not everyone can afford over priced food .
    The neighborhood is diverse , keep it that way .
    Exclusivity has no room here .

  29. @killingjoke – the reference was to “educated shoppers” not “intelligent shoppers.” There is a difference. Per the link posted by Cristi “Market research has revealed a relationship between education and consumer choices: The more highly educated tend to travel more and, hence, are more inclined to be attracted to the unique product lines offered by TJ.”

    It’s simply a business analysis, not a personal affront.

    I would love to see a TJ go into that space. In my experience, there are many well-educated, well-traveled people living in EP. Contrary to whatever TJ corporate may believe, a Trader Joe’s would thrive here.

  30. RIP red peppers for $0.89/lb

  31. A Super King Market would be a great idea although the space seems a bit small for their like. As much as a TJ is being requested, I really hope it doesn’t come into our neighborhood. Not everyone in EP is a vegan or buys organic.

  32. “Store location is determined by three key factors: density of population, educational level of the consumer, and distribution efficiencies. Market research has revealed a relationship between education and consumer choices: The more highly educated tend to travel more and, hence, are more inclined to be attracted to the unique product lines offered by TJ.”

    I wonder if their market research also tells them that educated white people will fall for corny aesthetics and anything with the word organic on it. I suspect that a lot of folks like TJ because it’s “funky” and “fun” and is perceived to have lots of organic and healthy choices. TJ’s is full of processed food! Why do I have to have an college education to buy a box of crappy tikka masala or pesto. So exotic! Trader Joe’s can go stuff it, I’ll just keep going to the Asian market on Sunset.

  33. Torres, have you ever shopped at TJ’s? They really don’t carry many vegan or even vegetarian items, trust me, and definitely only about 20% (or less) organic stuff. Like most stores, some of their stuff is super cheap, and some is overpriced. You have to shop around if you want low prices on everything, unfortunately.

    And to those of you wishing for affordable organic or pesticide-free veggies and fruits, PLEASE check out our small but wonderful Echo Park Farmer’s Market on Fridays!

  34. I would love for Trader Joe’s to go in that spot. (I’m in full agreement with the Fresh and Easy dissenters, after giving it a few disappointing tries, I refuse to shop there.)

    Please, Trader Joe’s – come to Echo Park!!!

  35. thank god people aren’t suggesting a Ralphs or some big chain. love you eastsiders !

  36. Trader Joe’s is not gonna happen. They deliberately limit the number of stores so that every TJ’s is an overcrowded train wreck, just to cultivate the image that the chain is super-popular. They also stick to yuppie neighborhoods to maintain their snob appeal, so there is no chance they will open a location in EP.

    TJ’s thinks it is too good for Echo Park, and as far as I’m concerned we are better off without them. It’s an overrated, “see and be seen” type of place.

  37. EASTSIDER – is there any way that YOU, as a member of the press, contact trader Joe’s directly to see what they say? They may respond to you because you’re “press” while us “civilians” will simply get a “thank you for contacting Trader Joe’s” generic response. Can you please reach out to them about coming to EP and see what they say? Please let us know…..love your blog!!!!

  38. “Trader Joes is awesome and has healthier and natural versions of pretty much everything for a reasonable price. Fresh n’ Easy is a cheap brand name discount store with barely any selection (like Aldi growing up in the Midwest)”

    Ironically, Aldi owns Trader Joe’s.

    This blog is funny. No matter what the story is about, the comments end up being some racial complaint directed at white people. Cholos shoot each other, and there are complaints against white people.

  39. As much as I might like to see a TJ’s go in there, can you imagine what a nightmare that parking lot would be? And the traffic along the streets around there? Ugh. I’d love a mini Super King in there…wait, parking there is just as bad as it is at TJ’s.

  40. I am wondering if the people who are so negative about Fresh and Easy have been there recently. When it first opened up in Eagle Rock it was a bit of an enigma – and I agree, somewhat reminiscent of Aldi. But as there were a few items I would stop in there for when in the neighborhood, I have seen it grow markedly since it opened. I have at least 5 friends who shared your negative opinion until I convinced them to go back and take a look and they are all avid F&E shoppers now.
    They have great coffee for way less than any other grocery store, Green and Blacks Organic Chocolate for 2 bucks a bar (about half of the usual price,) sliced cheese and lunchmeats comparable to TJ’s products but for an average of a dollar less, same with their store-brand yogurts and gelatos which are super-delicious. Their canned goods are all preservative free and very reasonably priced. They also stock a number of British products that are harder to find such as Heinz beans (what you need to make authentic beans on toast) and Branston Pickle. An English friend told me they are owned by Marks and Spencer. Granted their produce is not so hot, but that is life in the big city as far as I can see, unless you are well-off and can afford the farmer’s markets or Whole Foods.
    Personally I would love to see a Jon’s market go in there. Super King is basically a giant Jon’s. Jon’s has the best produce outside the farmer’s market I have found for any kind of a regular person’s price! They also have a lot of interesting ethnic products at low prices.
    I used to dream of a Trader Joe’s in that spot and wrote to them several times about it but was also told by the company it wa snot in the cards. Anyway, Trader Joe’s is no longer the bargain bulk bin store it started out as and is fun but not a good option for everyday shopping for everyday people.

  41. i like fresh & easy, as well, and think it would be a perfect fit for the neighborhood. also – it would be nice not to have to drive up to eagle rock for my shopping staples: $2 bottles of wine, 99 cent boxes of corn flakes and delicious loaves of sourdough jalapeno bread. oh, love their hummus, too. wouldn’t mind a trader joe’s, of course, but i think the walgreen’s parking lot is almost *too big* for them. remove about 100 spaces and i’m sure the company would be interested in the spot. hehehe.

  42. Are you serious? Trader Joe’s is TWO MILES from Echo Park. Two miles. You say “we need a Trader Joes” as if the nearest one was in Riverside county.

    We HAVE a Trader Joe’s, it is TWO MILES AWAY! I don’t know how much easier you expect life to be!

  43. @ Nat. The Eastsider has contacted TJ’s before on this and other sites. The response is always the same: No comment.

  44. Fresh & Easy is owned by Tesco, which is a UK company.

  45. bring flesh and sleazy

  46. thanks eastsider….no comment?? Jeesh….I say BOYCOTT TRADER JOE’S!
    And TWO MILES is TOO far!

  47. In first:

    We’ll see a TJ’s in that space when In-and-Out comes to the inner city.

  48. I agree with Akushondi – bring on a Jon’s! It is my favorite grocery store ever – affordable produce, great deli where you can get fresh cheese for 1/2 of TJ’s etc., and all sorts of Russian and Armenian items (although that’s because the one I go to is in Little Armenia).

    It seems like they really focus on stocking products that reflect the neighborhood, which is refreshing and rare.

  49. I do shop Fresh & Easy sometimes, but if you compare their nutritional labels with stuff from TJ’s (or the regular supermarket) you’ll be surprised at the extra fat and sugar content in their products. Plus, apparently they are super anti-union, and have intimidated employees that were attempting to form one.

  50. I know it probably won’t happen as long as the Walgreens is still there, but I wish they would just redo the whole center so the stores actually FRONT the street, with the parking either in the rear, under the grocery/drug store, or on the roof. That’s what urban grocery stores are supposed to do. The way it is now the parking in front is really ugly and suburban, and an affront to the entire neighborhood.

  51. I agree with Chris L! We should take out the parking lot, and replace it with a lawn or gardens. Make the gardens be the produce section.

    Also, in order of preference:

    1. Fresh & Easy
    2. Super King
    3. Jon’s
    4. Vons
    5. Mini-Target
    6. Temple
    7. Giant Bar/Discotheque

    I hope we get one of those

  52. That would make for a great location for a night club! there’s no close neighbors that would hear the music. lots of night time parking. Echo Park needs more good places for music! and they should serve sandwiches!!

  53. Actually, I was just thinking that this space would make for a great strip club location. Echo Park only has one other and it is pretty run-down. I would love to see a good one open here.

  54. @Chris L

    Agreed… It looks like Pioneer did just the opposite to their original market in the eighties (http://www.historicechopark.org/id72.html) to build that lot up front and it sits half empty 24/7. They should have just left the parking in the back, like the buildings across the street.

  55. I read the letter posted on the front of the market and it appears that Walgreens is leasing the whole building as Sav A Lot was under a sublease to them. I seriously doubt someone like TJ’s would start a store under a sublease like that but I really feel like it’s the only store that would bridge the gap and be a place that every demographic would want to shop at in Echo Park. I love the Chinese market for produce but I’m thinking of starting a facebook page to try to bring a TJ’s to Echo Park. Any thoughts or information?

  56. i just went ahead and did it if anyone would like to join that would be rad!
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bring-Trader-Joes-to-Echo-Park/203104919712092

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