Here's why Baltimore grocery chain Stop Shop Save didn't survive

Jul 23, 2014, 3:01pm EDT | UPDATED: Jul 23, 2014, 3:47pm EDT
Sarah Meehan
Reporter - Baltimore Business Journal

Stop Shop Save may have catered to underserved Baltimore neighborhoods, but it never found a niche to help it compete against other grocers.

The grocery chain has closed three of its last four stores in Baltimore and plans to shut down the last one at 1600 Harford Ave. soon.

Jeremy Diamond, director of the Diamond Marketing Group, which provides consulting for the grocery industry, said the company's sales have declined in recent years as more chain stores and updated independent stores have moved into the city. Stop Shop Save notched about $4.5 million in sales per store in 2013, Diamond said, noting that was a low volume for a five-store chain.

Stop Shop Save has closed three of its last stores in Baltimore. The store at 1600 Harford Ave. is the last remaining store open in the chain.

"Stop Shop Save stores didn't have a niche," Diamond said in an email.

Founded in 1978, Stop Shop Save ranked 13th on the BBJ's recent List of largest minority-owned businesses in Greater Baltimore and 22nd on our List of top 25 grocery store operators.

"The stores catered to low-income neighborhoods and relied on the fact that it was an African-American owned company," Diamond said. "Customers want the most value for their dollar regardless of who owns their neighborhood grocery store."

Stop Shop Save's location on Harford Avenue is the only location still operating. The store manager declined to comment.

Stop Shop Save's closings follow other grocery store closings in recent months. Last year Santoni's Super Market in Highlandtown closed, and Fresh & Green's closed six locations in Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Grocery operators worry they're losing business to the suburbs, where county supermarkets do not charge a 5-cent bottle tax. Santoni's blamed the bottle tax for its closing- the store lost $4 million from the time the tax was enacted until it closed in October.

Henry T. Baines, Stop Shop Save's CEO, and supermarket President Anthony Baines did not respond to requests for comment.