BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — People who shop at Save-A-Lot on Dennison Avenue were shocked to learn about its sudden closure. A notice on the door notified customers that the store permanently closed last Thursday.

EZ Cutz Barbershop owner Eric Ryles says the closing of the grocery store came as a complete surprise.

“You know out here you would see a lot of people walking to the store, now you won’t see them at all for the simple fact the store is closed and that is stressing a lot of them out,” Ryles said.

Ryles doesn’t believe the store closing will hurt him and the other businesses at the Heritage Towne Centre but he’s more concerned about the impact the closing will have on the community.

“Now they have nowhere close to shop,” Ryles said.

Crystal Smitherman, the Birmingham city councilor who represents the area, provided the following statement to CBS 42 on the closing:

Building equity in our community, especially as it relates to food insecurity, must start with ensuring healthy, affordable food options for residents that live in one of Birmingham’s designated food deserts. 

In so many communities across Birmingham, the only food retailers available are “Dollar Stores” which only offer highly-processed foods. The proliferation of these stores is a major factor in preventing larger grocery stores from wanting to locate to these areas. They also undercut grocery stores that are currently operating here.  

In 2020, I joined my colleagues in passing legislation to prevent more of these stores from opening in underserved communities.  

For the second year in a row, I partnered with local farmers and vendors to for monthly farmer’s markets across District 6 in Birmingham. Not only was this an opportunity for residents to access fresh produce, but it also allowed them to build relationships with local farmers.  

While I’m not going to comment on this current situation, I want to assure our residents that the City Council is taking this issue very seriously and we will continue working with the Mayor and his team to find ways recruit and retain more grocery stores in these historically underserved communities.

Crystal Smitherman, Birmingham City Counciler for District 6

Residents in the area say they would like to see another grocery store move into the space.

“It’s a shortage on this western side of the area so that’s more than likely will be helpful,” resident Tyrone Thompson said.

“If they will think about it bring Save-A-Lot back because their items were affordable and it helps a lot of people financially as well,” Ryles said.

The businesses we spoke with at the Heritage Towne Centre say that the shopping center recently came under new ownership. They believe the new owner has future plans for Save-A-Lot’s storefront and other businesses in the center.