Save-a-lot Food Store Closing Its Doors

A food shopping institution on the Revere-Malden line will close its doors this Sunday after decades serving the residents in and around Linden Square.

Johnnie’s Save-a-Lot – will close its doors for good this Sunday, Feb. 12, according to long-time employees of the regional chain.

The chain is headquartered in Somerville, though it has had a long history in Revere.

“In October of 2010 Johnnie’s Foodmaster made a transition with its Revere store,” wrote long-time employee Steven Morabito in an e-mail this week. “The Foodmaster store in Revere was converted to a Save-a- Lot store with a low-price concept in order to accommodate its customers and business during these difficult economic times. Unfortunately, this terrible economy was too much of a burden on the operation of the Revere store. Therefore after being in business for over 30 years, Johnnie’s Foodmaster will be closing its Save-a-Lot store this Sunday, February 12th. All Johnnie’s Foodmaster supermarkets in other locations will remain open for business. The company did everything possible to keep that Revere store up and running but could not sustain this economy.”

Johnnie’s was one of the more popular stores in Revere for many years, and up to this day has a loyal following from many elderly and long-time residents who have shopped there since its opening.

Nevertheless, the grocery store market became cutthroat in the last 10 years, and Johnnie’s faced tremendous competition when the Stop & Shop on Squire Road built a new store across the street from Johnnie’s in the late 1990s.

That was the first blow to the store, and by all accounts from management, did eat into their customer base.

A few years ago, however, when the new Market Basket in Chelsea opened and then the new Price-Rite in Northgate opened, it was a deathblow to Johnnie’s.

The store ownership – which is family-owned and operated by Massachusetts people – tried to form a partnership with Save-a-Lot to help increase its buying power and reduce its prices. At the same time, they embarked on a major renovation of the old store, securing a grocery store beer and wine license from the City and reconstructing the store in fine fashion.

Apparently, though, it wasn’t enough to keep business coming through the doors.

Morabito said the closing was especially poignant for him as he has made a life and a career out of the Revere store – beginning his work there as a high school kid.

“I am saddened to see the store close and will miss the customers who I have met over the last 16 years at the Revere store,” he said. “I was first hired at the Revere store while I was in high school and decided to continue working there after college. A majority of the customers knew me since I was in high school and watched me grow into the man I am today; a connection that I will miss. I am on Facebook if customers who read this want stay in touch.”

One positive coming from the dire news is that employees of the Revere store – many who have worked there for decades like Morabito – will not lose their jobs.

All existing employees of the Revere store will have the option of working at another Foodmaster location.

It was not immediately certain what would replace Johnnie’s in the strip mall location that it has occupied for so long.

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