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TLO Grocery Store Review: Save-A-Lot

While many of us were lamenting the lack of quality supermarkets and grocery stores left behind in the wake of recent closings such as the infamous Buy for Less on N.W. 23rd and Penn, it was seemingly forgotten that there are plenty of other areas of the Metro where their only source of regular sustenance, if they’re lucky, is in the form of a corner convenience store or two spread out among the fast food graveyards.

One such area that has historically been hungering for a place to purchase said provisions is the long strip of road that makes up N.E. 36th, from just under the 235 exit on down to Martin Luther King and probably beyond. You’d think with the many houses and apartment complexes that make up the neighborhoods of the area that there would be something, but, for years now, the closest you got was the Valero that used to have the pizza shop in it. And even the pizza shop done left town.

Coming back from a funeral the other day, I noticed that the beautifully refurbished and remodeled Northeast Town Center shopping center was not only open for business but that Save-A-Lot--a smaller, more value-oriented chain that I remember seeing in Denver near the Casa Bonita I used to heavily frequent--had prominently moved in and was more than ready to serve the neighborhood and, being in dire need of groceries myself, serve me most specifically.

Located at 1124 N.E. 36th St., the parking lot was eerily barren and, for a brand-new store celebrating a grand opening, the inside even more so. Brightly lit and dutifully clean with that appealing "brand-new store" scent still very fresh, the wide open spaces and shoulder-level shelving gave a good idea of what was going on here—think Aldi’s, only not as tightly stuffed into a darkened sarcophagus of savings. There’s plenty of space to mill about and enjoy the low prices without fear of a shopping cart-based clipped heel or two.

I’d like to describe Save-A-Lot as “no frills,” but as soon as you enter to your right there’s a one-stop tribute to all things nachos, which, bestill my enlarged heart, had me at hello. Dip 'em if you got 'em, son.

The produce section, while small, is decently priced and carries all of the required fruits and vegetables anyone truly needs, including bananas and tomatoes and apples and onions. Seriously: when was the last time you truly sat down and enjoyed a nice crisp cut of a kiwi or a sliver of dragonfruit? Probably never. Quit frontin’ and just enjoy your bag of Cuties and be happy.

“Tell Tony the Tiger that if he wants something grrrrrrrreat in his mouth to pour himself a bowl of my Frosty Flakes,” said Pokey the Polar Bear, the official mascot of Frosty Flakes. “They offer the daily recommended allowance of deez nuts, ya striped bitch.”

The also smallish meat section offers a decent selection of fresh fixtures ranging from the traditional cuts of beef, pork and so on to a freezer section absolutely beaming with gluten-free burger patties, every kind of fried side-item you can think of…

…not to mention a great deal on Larry the Cable Guy’s Git R Done Baby Back Ribs which, when paired with a 2-liter of Bubba Cola makes for a great redneck lunch on-the-go, especially while sitting in the front seat of your filthy truck, locked in idle while you gorge and cry right there in the Save-A-Lot parking lot.

Sadly, many people still have yet to tread in Save-A-Lot’s direction as the day I went, they had already been open three days and we’re still giving out free bags of groceries to their first 200 customers. I think I was only 125 or so. Still, with every subsequent return trip, the parking lot continues to remain mostly empty, as does the store itself.

So while even though Save-A-Lot might not be the end-all, be-all of one-stop shopping, it seemingly does a great job of providing the necessities at an overwhelmingly low price to a community that has been unjustly ignored in this department for far too long. It definitely deserves your regular patronage, no matter what side of the highway you dwell on.

And, you know what? Maybe, if we’re really good, they’ll bring one if their Mexican-themed El Ahorro Save-A-Lots to town. Dream no small dreams, my friends. ¡Cómpralo ya!


 I can’t believe how much food endorsed by redneck comedians I’ve eaten in my life. Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler.

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