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Residents, workers express concern about Save-A-Lot grocery closing in Richton Park

Ben Amstrong bought some canned food and a loaf of bread from the Save-A-Lot in Richton Park Friday and expressed his concern that the store will close in two weeks.

Armstrong, who lives in Park Forest, said he rides his bike to the grocery store, about a mile round trip, so he comes to the store about every other day.

“I come on my bike so I can’t get a lot,” he said.

Once the store closes Feb. 16, Armstrong said he’ll probably ride his bike to the Aldi’s in Matteson, which will increase his trip to the grocery store to 6 miles round trip.

Armstrong said village officials should ensure another grocery store opens in place of the Save-A-Lot.

“This area is dying,” Armstrong said. “Nobody can figure out how to fix these broken towns.”

The Save-A-Lot, 3736 Sauk Trail, has signs posted on the front door announcing the closure effective Feb. 16. The sign encourages customers to visit the Save-A-Lot in Chicago Heights, at 3310 Chicago Road.

The store, which opened in Richton Park 17 years ago, is a 15,000-square-foot facility that anchors a 30,000-square-foot commercial strip, according to a village news release.

“Richton Park shoppers want a new specialty grocery store, so hopefully this vacancy becomes an opportunity for a new user our residents can be proud of,” Village President Rick Reinbold said in the release.

Allen Enayatian, the property owner, said in 2021 a new operator, Yellow Banana, took over the Save-A-Lot grocery store chain. Yellow Banana decided to close its Richton Park location because of property taxes, he said.

“That was a main issue,” Enayatian said. “We’re looking for a better operator.”

Trisha Almaguer, a store employee, said employees learned of the closure during a recent meeting with company officials.

Once the store closes, Almaguer said employees will have the option to either transfer to the Chicago Save-A-Lot at 107th and Halsted, or find a new job.

Almaguer said customers have expressed their frustration.

“Everyone is mad. Everyone is complaining,” Almaguer said. “We don’t want it to close. It sucks to see it go.”

Almaguer said she hopes another grocery store opens in the space.

“This is the only grocery around here,” Almaguer said. “This is our only neighborhood grocery.”

Bonnie Bebe, who lives in Richton Park, said she found out about the Save-A-Lot closing in a group text message chain with her parents and brother, who also live in the area.

“I thought it was coming,” Bebe said of the closure. “It’s been slow, so I saw it coming.”

Bebe said she came to the grocery store Friday to buy a few items she needed to take advantage of the discounts.

It’s important that a grocery store opens in Richton Park, Bebe said.

“The neighborhood doesn’t have a grocery store now,” Bebe said. “They need a place with a good selection and produce.”

akukulka@chicagotribune.com