Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner & Groceries
Cash Saver provides options for shoppers and diners
By David Zaslawsky
Photography by Robert Fouts
There is another option for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it’s right next to Alfa Insurance and across the street from Baptist South Medical Center.
It’s not a restaurant. It’s a discount grocery store – Cash Saver by Vowell’s – but inside the 45,000-square-foot location is a restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating. There is also takeout for those wanting to bring home dinner.
And the prices are tough to beat: $3.99 for breakfast, which includes meat, two sides, a bread and a drink. That’s the full price out the door. Lunch can be $4.99 out the door or more for a premium plate. Lunch includes meat, two sides, a bread and a drink.
“It’s another added service that we provide,” Cash Saver President Todd Vowell said after a ribbon-cutting at his cost-plus food outlet. That added service comes in handy for all those employees at Alfa and Baptist South as well as all the medical offices around the area.
How about dinner? Cash Saver has you covered there as well. “If someone comes in and they’re shopping for groceries and realize they didn’t have anything for dinner, they can pick up something for dinner and take it (home),” said Vowell, who owns 21 grocery stores in Alabama and Mississippi.
“We provide good, Southern cooking – the from-scratch cooking that tastes like your grandmother made it,” he said. “We can do that on the deli side, which is your hot food. We can also do it with the baked goods and sweet goods. We have everything from the healthy stuff like green salads to the more tasteful stuff like red velvet and coconut cake.”
Cash Saver is not your typical grocery store. The pricing strategy is 10 percent over cost and those signs are everywhere to remind customers that there is a 10 percent charge on top of the posted price.
“The cost-plus format is 100 percent predicated on volume,” said Vowell, who opened the South Boulevard location at the end of January. The Cash Saver on Atlanta Highway opened in May 2013. Both locations are former Food World sites, but the Atlanta Highway store is 25,000 square feet because some of the original building was acquired by Citi Trends. He currently has 120 employees at the South Boulevard site.
Bryan Howard, store manager of the South Boulevard location, said that customers have thanked Cash Saver employees for opening a store in their neighborhood. There is a grocery store about one mile away, but it does not have all the departments that Cash Saver has. “There are so many houses around this store,” Howard said. “They’re happy to have us.”
That’s the key reason that Cash Saver opened on South Boulevard. Vowell based his decision on population density and how much square footage of shopping there is in a 3-mile circle.
Vowell, who said he invested $8 million into the two locations, gutted the South Boulevard site, leaving basically the four walls and floor. He even put a new roof on it.
He said the company prides itself on its meats. “In the South, especially Mississippi and Alabama – meat is going to be how a customer decides where to shop,” Vowell said. “We realize that and variety is the key word. We try to have your healthy options and heat-and-eat, already-prepared items. We have ones that you grill yourself. We have a large variety of seafood, both fresh and fresh frozen.”
Vowell told Retail Merchandiser that the company strives “to maximize quality, freshness, variety and price in the perishables department. Those fresh categories are what we really strive to do better than anyone else.”
He grew up in the grocery store business, which has been family-owned since his grandfather started the company in 1945. It is based in Mississippi.
“We really like the greater Montgomery area,” Vowell said. “We haven’t been here an extremely long time, but we’re really pleased with the reception that we have received from the citizens of the greater Montgomery area. We would not be opposed to looking at future growth options (in the area).”