Save-A-Lot was founded as a single store in Cahokia, Ill., in 1977 by William Moran Jr., who launched the store under the sponsorship of General Grocer Co., a St. Louis-based wholesaler. General Grocer bought the concept and expanded it under Moran's leadership, until General Grocer was acquired by rival wholesaler Wetterau in 1983. Wetterau sold Save-A-Lot back to Moran and reacquired via a buy-back option in 1978. Save-A-Lot became a subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Supervalu in 1993 when Supervalu acquired Wetterau.
Moran ran the company though its various ownership structures until retiring as Save-A-Lot's chief executive officer in May of 2006. From a home base in Earth City, Mo., Moran grew Save-A-Lot rapidly, growing to 30 locations by 1979 and to 80 stores and a new warehouse by 1980. It grew through acquisitions of small and midsized chains (Jewel-T in 1984; Save-U Foods in 1996) and through aggressive store opening and licensing programs, the latter presenting independent merchants with a cost-effective alternative to conventional stores, and a weapon against the rising threat of supercenters.
With nearly 1,200 stores today, Save-A-Lot is the fifth-largest grocery chain in terms of stores under a single banner, Supervalu said.
From the beginning, Save-A-Lot succeeded because of a commitment to its unique format, with streamlined purchasing, delivery and retail operations and a focus on exclusive brands, officials say. Bill Shaner, a Supervalu executive vice president and chief operating officer of Save-A-Lot since 1999, was named to succeed Moran upon his retirement.
Save-A-Lot Through the Years
1977: First Save-A-Lot store opens in Cahokia, Ill.
1978: General Grocer Co. adopts Save-A-Lot concept; five stores added
1979: 30 stores added
1980: 50 stores and a warehouse opened
1983: Wetterau Inc. buys General Grocer, Save-A-Lot
1984: Save-A-Lot acquires Jewel-T, adds 76 stores and two warehouses
1993: Save-A-Lot becomes a subsidiary of Supervalu
1994: Acquires Texas T (30 stores in Texas)
1996: Acquires Save-U Foods (21 stores in California)
2001: Save-A-Lot opens its 1,000th store
2002: Acquires Deal$: Nothing Over a Dollar (45 stores), introduces dollar general merchandise and discount grocery combination stores
2006: Sells Deal$ to Dollar Tree for $30.5 million; Bill Moran Jr., founder and CEO, announces his retirement; Bill Shaner named president and CEO
Source: Save-A-Lot, SN archives