Rep. Holley, Art Pope, and Councilman Weeks at the April 1 Save-A-Lot grand opening
On Wednesday, April 1, 2015, Variety Wholesalers CEO Art Pope, joined Variety Wholesalers President Wilson Sawyer to officially open the doors to their newest store venture, a Save-A-Lot grocery store at 1610 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Raleigh.
Several local representatives were on hand to mark the occasion including Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley and Raleigh District Councilman Eugene Weeks. Holley praised Variety Wholesalers for the social impact the store will have on Raleigh, noting that some issues were beyond politics. She praised the number of jobs created and the effort Variety Wholesalers made to hire from the community.
At the grand opening, two separate $2,000 checks were presented to Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and the Salvation Army on behalf of Variety Wholesalers.
The news article below appeared online with the News & Observer on April 1.
Save-A-Lot store opens in Southeast Raleigh
Kroger left in 2012, leaving residents with few grocery options
BY SARAH BARR
A new Southeast Raleigh grocery store aims to fill a need for fresh, affordable food in a neighborhood where residents were left with few grocery options after a Kroger closed two years ago.
Save-A-Lot, part of a chain of more than 1,300 discount grocery stories, opened Wednesday in the former Kroger building on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Variety Wholesalers, headed by former state budget director Art Pope, owns the 18,000-square-foot store, along with a Roses store that’s connected to the new grocery.
Shoppers toured Save-A-Lot after a grand-opening ceremony Wednesday, searching out deals on fresh produce, meat, dairy and other foods.
They found an 8-pound bag of Red Delicious apples for $2.99, a box of elbow macaroni for 87 cents, a 2-pound pack of boneless pork chops for $6.55 and a gallon of whole milk for $3.75.
Lisa Toon, 51, said she’s relieved to see a grocery store return to the shopping center. Since Kroger closed, she’s had to drive past the empty building to get to the nearest grocery store and hasn’t been able to find groceries as cheaply as she would like.
“It will make life a whole lot easier,” she said as she and her husband, Ledell, pushed a cart with chicken, paper towels and eggs.
In late 2012, Kroger announced it would pull out of the location because of declining sales figures. Residents and elected officials said the move was a major loss and worried about how it would affect the neighborhood.
They especially had concerns about those without cars who have had to rely on several buses to get to the nearest full-service grocery stores about a mile away.
Of the 4,000 households within a mile of the store, 25 percent earn less than $15,000 a year and more than half earn less than $35,000.
The median household income in Wake County is about $66,000, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Variety Wholesalers bought the Kroger building last summer for $2.57 million, prompting public criticism from some community leaders who dislike Pope’s support for conservative causes.
At the store’s opening, Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley, a Wake County Democrat, said the issue is not a political one.
“Guess what? When you’re hungry you don’t say are you a Democrat or a Republican,” she said. “Some issues exceed politics.”
In the state legislature, Holley has pushed to bring attention to the issue of “food deserts,” communities where families don’t have easy access to fresh, healthy and affordable food.
She said the new store also is important for the economic development it could help spur in the area by adding jobs and anchoring the shopping center.
The Save-A-Lot employs 27 people, and the Roses employs 70.
Variety Wholesalers officials have said the pairing of the Roses with a Save-A-Lot should encourage residents to make the trip to the shopping center, heading off the problems Kroger had in the location.
Customer Sharon Paige, 60, showed up to shop for groceries before the ribbon across the front of the building was even cut. She’s looking forward to buying household items at Roses, then heading next door to Save-A-Lot.
“You can do everything in one step,” said Paige, who said she may even walk to the store from her home in Chavis Heights.
Variety Wholesalers, a Henderson, NC- based company which owns and operates a chain of retail stores including Roses, has honored two long-term employees who have spent nearly six decades with the store.
Article by The Daily Dispatch (Henderson, NC)
Written by: By Sarah Mansur
March 21, 2015
Ruth Bartholomew and Pete Pegram each have spent nearly six decades as employees of Variety Wholesalers in Henderson.
They are two of 12 employees honored recently by the Henderson-based company, which owns Roses Inc.
Communications Director Mel Hanks said the total service of all 12 comes to 382 years.
“That is just an astounding number,” said Wilson Sawyer, chief operating officer of Variety Wholesalers, in a press release. “We are proud of all our associates, but we are especially happy that the ones we’re honoring have been so loyal and productive for so very long.”
The other employees celebrated for varying lengths of service between five and 40 years are Dot Inscoe, Rickey Owen, Debbie Taylor, Kay Ayscue, Candy Stevens, Mary Beth Boynton, Dave Stinson, Mike Burgess, Alex Ellington, and Kelly Currin.
Pegram and Bartholomew are the longest serving employees at Variety Wholesalers.
Bartholomew, 78, has been with the company in several different roles for 58 years.
She began in 1957 as a data entry employee when she was 20 years old.
Her title now is senior merchandise distribution specialist.
“Every boss I’ve had has been a good boss,” Bartholomew said. “I’ve not had a problem with anyone since I been here.”
Her daughter worked in the Roses Inc.’s offices before she had children.
And Bartholomew’s husband worked there for more than 30 years before retiring.
As of now, she has no plans to retire.
“We work but we have fun,” she said.
Pegram, 79, trails not far behind Bartholomew with 56 years at the company.
When he began working for Variety Wholesalers, the company sent him to New York City for four weeks for training.
It was his first plane ride and his first trip to the Big Apple.
His current job is working as a computer programmer in the accounting department.
Pegram said technology has changed drastically since he started his career.
“We went from punch cards to saving things on magnetic tape and disk storage,” he said. “Now, it’s all online. It’s all on the screen in front of you.”
He said he feels fortunate to have worked this long in the same company.
“I am fortunate to have been able to grow and learn here,” he said.
Triangle Business Journal Reports new Variety Wholesale owned store opening
March 10, 2015: Triangle Business Journal: Real Estate Inc.
By Amanda Jones Hoyle
The owner of the Roses discount store chain has set an April 1 opening date for its first Save-A-Lot grocery store location in a section of Raleigh declared as a “food desert” by a federal report due to its lack of grocery options for neighboring residents.
The Save-A-Lot store will share a building with a Roses discount store that opened in January.
Former state budget director Art Pope, who is also chairman and CEO of Henderson-based Variety Wholesalers, stated in a news release that his family-owned company is “committed to building stores in areas that need access to fresh, nutritious food at great prices.” Variety Wholesalers is the parent company of Roses, and it is partnering with Save-A-Lot as a franchise owner of the national discount grocery brand to open the Raleigh location.
Pope says both stores will also be staffed mostly by residents from the surrounding southeast Raleigh neighborhoods. The Roses employs 76 people, and the Save-A-Lot will employ about 25 people.
Kroger closed its grocery location in the 60,000-square-foot building at 1610 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard two years ago.Variety Wholesalers bought the building for $2.7 million in July.
The area around the building had been classified as a “food desert,” according to USDA guidelines, because of the number of low-income population around it who live more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store.
Read the article at Triangle Business Journal here: http://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/blog/real-estate/2015/03/save-a-lot-roses-variety-wholesalers-raleigh.html
The Burlington Times-News offers this human interest story about Alice Allen, a longtime employee of Roses who is about to retire after 52 years on the job:
As a senior in high school, when Alice Allen was hired part-time at Roses to assemble Easter baskets, working her way up through the company over the next five decades was never her intention. But 52 years later, Allen is ready to retire.
Allen has weathered some uncertain times with the company, including the company filing for bankruptcy in the 1990s before Variety Wholesalers took over the Rose family’s chain.
“That saved everybody’s job,” she said. “There wouldn’t be a Roses if they wouldn’t have bought the company.”
And it’s a good thing they stayed afloat, at least for all the workers she’s given jobs over the years.
“I’ve hired a lot of people throughout my time here,” she said. “I’ve hired people, then hired their children — and I’ve gotten a few of their grandchildren. Three generations of people.”