January 7, 2009 Edition

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New Hoxie Save-A-Lot
slated to open next month

Caleb Godwin works on the interior of at the new Save-A-Lot building projected to open its doors Feb. 11.
TD Photo ~ Frank M. Witowski Jr.
Frank M. Witowski Jr.
Staff Writer

Despite the weak national economy and recession, a positive business development is nearing completion in Hoxie. A new discount grocery retailer is coming to the city thanks to the vision of two area businessmen and the City of Hoxie re-use committee.

The new Save-A-Lot supermarket being constructed at 700 Southwest Texas Street in Hoxie is projected to open its doors Feb.11.

Wayne Black of Black and Allen Properties, LLC said after several years of working in the computer business, he wanted to do something different and the idea of bringing a Save-A-Lot to the area came to mind. "With the current economic situation of the Walnut Ridge/Hoxie area and a lot of elderly and lower income households, I thought this would be a good fit."

Black's business partner, Andy Allen, who along with Black is a native of Hoxie, said, " Having grown up in Hoxie, I'm excited about being a part of providing the citizens of Hoxie and surrounding communities with a way to save more money on their grocery bills."

After speaking with management at the Save-A-Lot headquarters early last year, Black and Allen approached the city officials in Hoxie last March. The timing of the inquiry with the City of Hoxie could not have been better as the city had just acquired a property that was a glove fit for a retail grocery store.

"Once I started talking to the city (officials and re-use committee), they said they had recently traded for a property that they thought was suitable for this venture," Black said. "Once I was informed of what piece of property it was, I agreed it was a good location for a Save-A-Lot."

According to Black, at least 15 new jobs will be created as a result of the new store.

"Having new jobs is what re-use funds is about," Re-use Committee Chairman Dewey Scott said. "It's not a lot of jobs, but they are jobs that were not there before."

Scott and Black added that given the population size of Hoxie and the current economy, 15 new jobs being added to the area is very positive.

According to Scott, before approving the re-use loan to Black and Allen Properties, LLC, the re-use committee looked at all the benefits for the people of Hoxie. Besides bringing new jobs to the area, the retailer will provide discounted groceries for local residents who would otherwise travel to Pocahontas or Jonesboro to save money on their grocery bill.

In addition, the new store will bring in more tax revenue for the city and county, and will draw more commerce to the area from the increased traffic to Save-A-Lot.

Black said the low interest re-use loan was a key to bringing a Save-A-Lot to Lawrence County. "It would not have been possible without the re-use loan," Black said. The 20-year re-use loan from the city allows Black and Allen Properties, LLC to repay the $740,000 loan with no interest for 10 years and low interest for the remainder of the loan term.

Black's only regret is it has taken longer to open the store than anticipated. Groundwork on the 100 x 150 square foot building initially began last September after business plans and financial paperwork had been completed. Bad weather halted the progress on the building project at times, but construction is occurring at a rapid pace now.

Recently, windows were installed as well as a 25 x 15 foot loading dock. In addition, C.W. Bratcher Dozing and Excavating were hired to complete the paving of the parking lot, which holds 65 vehicles. Windows and doors have also now been installed, Allen said.

Black said the retailer will be handicap accessible, and the store will have two electric wheelchairs for disabled shoppers to use. The clerk will bag groceries for customers, and in extreme circumstances, shoppers can get help with loading their groceries into their car.

Black said the store will begin initial hiring during mid-January. Interested individuals should apply at the Black and Fowler building in Hoxie located at 310 Southwest Texas Street (Highway 67B).

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