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Swift Response Promised After Health Report

Owner of local store says demolition of nearby buildings has caused rodent problem

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
July 07, 2023
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Tube City Almanac photo)

Workers at a Downtown supermarket were sanitizing shelves and throwing out merchandise Friday morning following a “Consumer Alert” from the Allegheny County Health Department.

Jeff Ross, owner of the Shop ’n Save on Fifth Avenue at Coursin Street, said the store has been battling mice ever since several buildings were torn down next to the supermarket.

“Please tell our customers we appreciate their business and we’re here in McKeesport to stay,” he said Friday. “Obviously, we want to correct the problem quickly, but it will be a little bit of a process. We hope they will work with us.”

This week, the health department issued a “consumer alert” for the store after inspectors said they found at least 20 packages that had been chewed by rodents, as well as evidence of mouse droppings and urine.

The health department also said they found three traps in the store with dead mice inside, and what was described as a “freshly dead” mouse.

The Shop ’n Save is the only grocery store remaining in the Downtown area, and the only one in walking distance for several large apartment complexes nearby. A Rite Aid pharmacy at the intersection recently closed as part of a widespread downsizing by the drugstore chain.

Ross said the supermarket has been under regular treatment by a local pest contractor ever since vacant buildings at 903, 907 and 911 Fifth Ave. were demolished. The buildings abutted the Shop ’n Save and the neighboring Tube City Cafe.

“When those buildings were demolished, the mice scattered,” Ross said. “We’ve been under contract with an exterminator since Feb. 1 ... it’s been an ongoing battle.”

On Friday when a reporter visited, workers were busy discarding any packaged goods — including cookies and crackers — where rodent activity had been found. A bright yellow “consumer alert” from the health department was posted on the front door.

Ross, a McKeesport native, said he has worked in the store since 1985 and owned the store since 1997. He also owns supermarkets in Mt. Pleasant, North Huntingdon Twp. and Versailles.

Ross said he was about to begin remodeling the Downtown location.

“We’re trying to keep up with today’s activities and we’re making some updates at the Olympia store, too,” he said.

The health department recommended that the store seal up any potential entry points for mice around doors, windows and vents. Ross said work is underway and the store hopes to be re-inspected by the health department within a week, after the findings are addressed.

Originally published July 07, 2023.

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