A former Save A Lot location in Florence, S.C., is now operating under a different name after its license was terminated. (Image credit: Elijah Craig LLC DBA Florence Save A Lot Facebook page)
A Save A Lot store in northeastern South Carolina is making local headlines after selling shares of the business to community members. According to television news station ABC15, the owner of the Elijah Craig LLC DBA Florence Save A Lot location in Florence reported that his operating license has been revoked from the Save A Lot organization and he is now running the store under a different name.
Timothy Waters sold Class A shares for $25 and Class B shares for $5 to help support his location, which opened in 2021 in what has been considered a food desert. To launch the business then, he received grants and public funding, including incentives from the city. When announcing the offering in early October, the operator declared, “By becoming a co-owner you’ll not only have a say in the store’s decisions, but you’ll also be supporting a business that is committed to addressing environmental, social and economic concerns.”
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This latest round of investment-seeking, though, landed Waters in hot water with the parent company. In a media statement, Save A Lot noted that independent licensees must abide by certain rules. “Over the last several months, we have been working with the operator of the Florence, S.C., store to overcome identified financial and operational challenges. Ultimately we were unsuccessful. For this and other reasons, we have terminated the license at this location. While we are disappointed in this outcome, we are grateful to customers in the Florence community for their support,” said Sarah Griffin, director of public relations and community engagement for Save A Lot. Griffin added that the company is looking for another operator in the area to continue to serve local customers.
In an Oct. 24 letter posted on the store’s Facebook page, Waters said that he is disappointed in the action but understands that each party has its own interests to protect. “The capital generated from selling shares at $25 per share is intended to be used to transition away from the Save A Lot umbrella. This will allow Mr. Waters the freedom to stock the store with more of the products and goods that our customer base and community wants and needs. We firmly believe that a community-owned store has the potential to be more responsive to local needs, more accountable to its customer base, and more sustainable in the long run.” The post also announced a shareholders meeting set for Oct. 28 in Florence.
Founded in 1977, Save A Lot services more than 800 stores in 32 states. The St. Ann, Mo.-based company is No. 57 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.