After ‘thorough renovation,’ West End’s Save A Lot grocery store to reopen July 17 under new ownership

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – A car rolled slowly on Monday past a sign announcing the planned reopening on July 17 of the Save A Lot discount grocery store in Johnstown’s West End.

As Naeem Chaudhary spoke with The Tribune-Democrat outside the store, a woman in the car rolled down her window to exclaim, “Yes!” and give Chaudhary a thumbs-up.

Chaudhary, a manager for the store’s new ownership team, was encouraged by the sign of support.

“We love to be of service to the community,” he said.

The slated reopening of Save A Lot, 346 Sheridan St., will mark the return to the West End of an economical grocery option that’s been missed for the past year since a rat infestation forced the store’s previous ownership to close.

Save A Lot bills itself as one of the country’s largest discount grocers, with 800 independently licensed stores. The Johnstown location is being reopened by Pittsburgh-based franchisee KK Enterprises, owned by retail veteran Khalid Ajmal and managed by his son, Affan Ajmal.

“My father and I have a passion for community service overall, so we saw this as an opportunity not only to fulfill our business goals, but to make a positive impact,” Affan Ajmal said. “It’s been an uphill battle. The store had to undergo thorough renovation. We are significantly improving the cleanliness standards and had professional pest control services addressing serious concerns from previous ownership.”

KK Enterprises is leasing the retail store space from Nationwide Investments Pa. LLC, a Florida-based company that purchased the entire Sheridan Street shopping plaza for $1.1 million within the past year, according to the Cambria County Recorder of Deeds Office, which recorded the deed transaction in March.

A new restaurant and a hair salon have also opened recently in the plaza. Affan Ajmal said all tenants are involved in a collaborative effort with the new plaza owners for regular inspections and maintaining cleanliness standards.

The new Save A Lot store’s hours will be 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, starting with a grand opening July 17, which will showcase the culmination of months of work. Grocery items are neatly stocked on new shelves inside the store, which has new flooring, new coolers and freshly painted walls.

The store is hiring and expects to have a staff of 16 people, Chaudhary said.

The store’s reopening excites Michelle George, of Johnstown. Her parents own Pyramids Lounge & Catering, a neighbor to the plaza featuring Save A Lot. She has been in contact with KK Enterprises throughout the renovation process and visited the store Monday.

“They’ve been working their fingers to the bone, staying all hours of the night,” she said. “This store is important to people because there are no other options other than Giant Eagle, which can be more expensive.”