The retailer has been gone from the Columbia area for at least two decades. But it will open a new store at 817 St. Andrews Road by Nov. 1, said Wilson Sawyer, president of Henderson, N.C.,-based Variety Wholesalers, Rose’s parent company.
The variety store will be paired with a Sav-A-Lot discount grocery store in the former Kroger grocery, near the intersection of St. Andrews and Interstate 26.
“We had been looking for the right opportunity to get a Rose’s store in Columbia for a long time,” said Sawyer, who added the company does not build new stores. Instead, the retailer upfits existing buildings so it can control its rent as a strategy to pass along savings to the customers.
When the Kroger grocery store shut down in April 2012, Sawyer’s company snapped up the building.
“We think there is a void in the market there for the types of products at the price points that we offer,” he said. “We really consider ourselves sort of a neighborhood store, (specializing in) serving people within a two-mile or so radius.”
The new Rose’s may be slightly different from the Rose’s that customers remember in the 1980s, Sawyer said. Rose’s became part of Variety Wholesalers in 1997 after the discount store ran into financial troubles and closed many of its locations, he said.
The store’s philosophy is to offer consistently low prices, Sawyer said. “You don’t have to wait for a sale.”
Shoppers can expect about half of the roughly 40,000-square-foot store to be filled with clothing, shoes and accessories for all members of the family. The rest of the store — which will employ 40 to 45 people — consists of home fashions and home decor; a toy department; a small grocery section, focusing on snacks and candy; and a large seasonal department with specialty items for Christmas or lawn and garden.
The Sav-A-Lot next door will take up the remaining roughly 15,000-square-feet of space in the former Kroger. The discount grocer also will help fill a void that was created when Kroger and a nearby Food Lion closed down, leaving a stretch of St. Andrews without access to a convenient market.
Earlier this year, a KJ’s Market opened in the former Food Lion. The Bi-Lo grocery store at the corner of St. Andrews and Piney Grove roads also underwent an extensive remodel, expanding its deli department, updating its produce department, and adding a new cheese shop and pharmacy.
Sav-A-Lot, which has two other stores in the Columbia market, offers groceries at up to 40 percent off the prices at traditional grocery stores, the retailer says on its website.
Discount stores have been popular as the country emerges from one of the worst economic downturns in history.
Rose’s and its parent company have been growing rapidly for the past seven or eight years, Sawyer said, opening typically 15 to 22 stores each year.
Even as the economy experiences a degree of recovery, consumers still are managing their expenses carefully and looking for discount- shopping options, Sawyer said
“People are more value conscious today.”