By Brittney Jackson | The Duquesne Duke
The Hill District began the celebration of its first grocery store in nearly 30 years on Saturday with a community party in Centre Heldman Plaza.
Hill District residents celebrated by coming together to buy food from vendors, get their faces painted and explore the new Shop ’n Save, which officially opened last Thursday with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
The grand opening attracted around 150 people, including public officials, Hill House Association president Cheryl Hall-Russell and dozens of excited Hill District residents.
The $12.5 million, 29,500 square foot store features a deli, fresh produce department and bakery. The store employs 120 people and at least 60 percent are Hill District residents, according to assistant store manager J.D. Brentley.
“Its [location] is beneficial because I want employees to feel like this is their store,” Brentley said. “I want them to feel like they’re a part of something.”
Store employee and Hill District resident Shania Williams-Herriott said she enjoys the location and walks to work every day. She said she enjoys the job, particularly the people she works with, the decent hours and good pay.
Employee Lorn Jackson said it feels good to work at the supermarket because the Hill District has been without one for 30 years. He said he applied for a job at Shop ’n Save because he grew up in the Hill District and lives nearby in Chauncey.
“I never thought they would open [a supermarket] in the Hill District,” Jackson said. “I really like the experience.”
Hill District residents and customers share the same excitement and enthusiasm as the Shop ’n Save employees. Customers agreed that the location on Centre Heldman Ave. is convenient.
Customer Carrie Hicks said it feels great to finally have a supermarket in the Hill District. Hicks said she would come to Shop ’n Save every day if she had the time.
Customer Maddie Taylor, a North Side resident, works at the Bedford Hill Apartments in the Hill District and said the Shop ’n Save is easily accessible for people without cars.
“The prices are great,” Taylor said. “I will most definitely come here often.”
Oak Hill resident John Bowdin came to the Shop ’n Save just to browse and said it was nice to finally see a supermarket in the Hill District.
“It should have been here a long time ago,” Bowdin said.
Jeff Ross, who owns the Shop ’n Save, also owns Ross Markets, a chain of supermarkets in McKeesport, Mount Pleasant, Versailles and Connellsville. Ross Markets regional manager David Cubakovic said the mission of the markets is to provide grocery stores that have products for the community.
As the regional manager, Cubakovic plans to meet the needs of the community and work with people in the Hill District to be connected to the community.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to be a part of providing a much needed service to the community,” Cubakovic said.