Thursday, Aug 21, 2014

Cash Saver is ready to live up to its name

Cash Saver 2.jpg
Cash Saver, formerly Sullivan’s Foods, opened Oct. 19. HML PHOTOS BY JAY SCHULZ

Cash Saver opened in Harvard in mid-October to a strong flood of shoppers that weekend.

“It’s been fantastic,” said store manager Mark Castiguoni. “This is going to save the community store. I’ve even hired people for the first time in two years.

“The only negative I hear from people is they can’t find a parking space.”

Grocery store Sullivan’s Foods, which often has changed with the economy — expanding during the Motorola years and downsizing with the economic downturn — adjusted once again to Harvard’s demographics.

Sullivan’s Foods closed for five days in order for the store to re-open as Cash Saver. Sullivan’s employees were retained, and the store added about 15 new employees, according to Kathy Christensen, vice president of human resources for Sullivan’s Foods.

During those five days, shelving was repositioned, new products and signage were displayed, walls were painted and new display cases and bins were strategically placed.

Though still under parent-company J.B. Sullivan Inc., Cash Saver is a price-concept store.

Christensen said there are several important differences between the old Sullivan’s Foods and Cash Saver. Most importantly, Christensen said, all product will be sold to the consumer at cost. Customers can take advantage of extremely low prices. At the register, a 10 percent additional charge will be added to the total. That 10 percent will be used to pay store employees, rent, electric bills and other store needs. Cash Saver also has added a high percentage of ethnic foods including tomatillos and cactus. “Our Hispanic customers seem quite happy with the new selection,” Christensen said.

“We still have our Pick 5 meats, and we have the same great meat quality that we have been known for,” she said. Five specially marked packages of meat — sold in smaller portions — are sold for $17.49. Christensen said many frozen items also are included such as sausage and biscuits and sliders.

Jennifer Lich of Harvard was happy to see the Pick 5 retained. “I was a Sullivan’s shopper and loved their meat department. I’m happy to see that department has not changed — just lower prices. After seeing Sullivan’s struggle after the new Walmart opened, I think changing to a more price-conscious Cash Saver was a smart move,” Lich said.

There are special vendor prices as well. Lay’s potato chips, which are marked at $4.29, are sold at Cash Saver for $1.95. And, since the store also is focused on some larger-volume items, the prices are set to give Walmart strong competition, said Christensen.

And, finally, another important change is in Cash Saver’s gas policy. Now, customers can receive the special pricing only with a purchase in the store. The receipt will have a barcode that will apply the price change. The receipt is good for that day only. But, the price will be granted whether the customer purchases a package of gum or $100 worth of groceries.

Customers are happy to see the regular employees and the new changes.

“So far I kind of like it,” said Harvard resident Phil Emmert who previously had shopped at Sullivan’s Foods. “The store looks brighter and it is laid out better plus there is more selection. It should give Walmart some competition.”

Lich agreed, “I really liked the new Cash Saver.  The prices were great. I went in for just a few items and ended up buying more.  With a family of six we shop at Aldi’s a lot, and I think now we will be able to shop here more often. … The store was busy, and the employees seemed really happy. I think this change is just what the Harvard market needed.  Hopefully this brings them success. I know I’ll be shopping [here].”

Christensen said she believes this store will help keep the community grocery store in Harvard and that customers will enjoy the products as well as the pricing.