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Residents in Duquesne and the surrounding area are without another grocery store, as the Shop ’n Save in the Village Shopping Center suddenly closed for the last time on Friday.
The store along Homeville Road in West Mifflin, which had changed ownership about a year ago, had a small, dedicated group of employees who opened the market at 7:30 a.m. and served nearby residents, including those who live in the neighboring senior-citizen high-rise.
A few years ago, a Save-A-Lot store located in Duquesne Plaza — the last supermarket in the city limits — closed its doors. Many residents started shopping at the Village Shopping Center Shop ’n Save instead.
Efforts to find a new supermarket for Duquesne have been unsuccessful.
As a result, Duquesne is one of the communities classified as a so-called “food desert,” because although there are convenience stores and dollar stores, none of them provide fresh perishable fruits or vegetables.
There is a Giant Eagle in the Kennywood Shops on Hoffman Boulevard in West Mifflin, just across the border from Duquesne.
Shop ’n Saves are independently owned supermarkets. Allegheny County Health Department records list the owner of the Homeville Road location as Robert Sliva. No phone number or email address was available for Sliva and he could not be reached for comment.
According to ACHD permit information, Sliva took over the supermarket in June 2022.
The store’s closure came quickly. Residents and neighboring business owners said they heard rumors of an imminent closure around the beginning of August.
A sign was placed on the front door notifying patrons that the store would have limited hours beginning Aug. 6 and the store closed permanently on Aug. 11.
The closure came as a surprise to Equity Real Estate, which serves as the leasing agent for the plaza’s owner. “We found out just a couple of days beforehand,” said broker Jerry Speer.
Initially, Speer thought the closure would be temporary, because Sliva was updating HVAC equipment and duct work on the roof. The store had replaced several freezers in the store just about a year ago.
Speer didn’t want to speculate as to what happened to make the grocery store close so quickly. The Shop ’n Save was a good tenant, he said. “We never had a problem with them. Their rent was up to date.”
Speer said that Equity is already “looking for another operator. We are willing to cooperate with anyone.” He said the 21,900 square foot store’s lease is “affordable.”
He said that Equity may even reach back out to Jeff Ross, who operates Shop ’n Save markets in McKeesport and Versailles, and who operated the Village location before Sliva took over.
Robert Johnson of the Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce said the organization has offered to work with the community to attract a new supermarket operator.
“It’s our goal to have a new merchant in there as soon as possible,” he said. “We will lend a hand in whatever we can do to service the residents of the Steel Valley.”
The chamber can provide data about the attractiveness of the community to prospective businesses, Johnson said, and would support another grocer coming in.
On social media, Duquesne and West Mifflin residents have been expressing their hope that a discount supermarket such as Aldi might located in the Village plaza.
Speer, the broker, said that Equity Real Estate would cooperate with any operator. The Shop ’n Save was an anchor tenant of the plaza, but even with its absence, he said, the strip mall remains viable. “There’s a lot going on there,” he said.
Tom Leturgey is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh and the editor of KSWA Digest, the online news and features home of the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance. His work also appears in The Valley Mirror and other publications.
Originally published August 16, 2023.