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Save A Lot moves into the neighborhood on North Dargan Street
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Save A Lot moves into the neighborhood on North Dargan Street

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FLORENCE, S.C. – With little more than a desire to help his community become healthier and a determined attitude, Tim Waters embarked on a mission to open a grocery store on the north side of downtown Florence in the area near where he grew up.

Waters said he was turned down by more than 30 banks for financing and only one food chain would talk with him about opening a franchise.

FLORENCE, S.C. – With little more than a desire to help his community become healthier and a determined attitude, Tim Waters embarked on a mission to open a grocery store on the north side of downtown Florence in the area near where he grew up.

“No other franchise wanted to give me a chance,” he said.

None but Save A Lot.

On Wednesday his dream became a reality. Waters, owner and operator of the new Save A Lot on Dargan Street in downtown Florence, cut the ribbon as more than a hundred customers waited to get inside.

“It has been years in the making,” he said. “This new store has been a dream of mine for 20 years.”

Waters said he started on the project in 1997. It was halted several times for various reasons, one of which was COVID.

“It was an uphill battle,” he said.

Waters said there were times when he wanted to give up, sometimes more than once daily, but he never stopped.

Waters said he grew up across the railroad tracks from the Dargan Street location. He said there has always been food insecurity here.

Waters wanted to do something to make life better for people.

“When we were coming up we couldn’t get apples, oranges and pears,” he said.

It was his dream to bring fresh food to the area. He said food is wealth, food is health. Waters said diabetes and high blood pressure are rampant in the African American community. He said he wanted to bring them healthy foods and make it convenient for them.

Waters said he wants young people to know they can be anything they want to be. They just have to have the determination.

He said you have to have a strong faith, a belief in a higher power.

He never gave up.

“This was a passion,” he said. “We didn’t have our DHEC approval until yesterday.”

Save A Lot employee Harley Norecer said she has been there for just two weeks and it has been great.

“We are in the middle of everything downtown,” she said.

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“Everybody here is getting a livable wage,” Waters said. “If you pay people good people will work. There are no minimum wage people here. Everybody here is getting $10 to $12 plus. Instead of hiring 30 people, I hired 10 people and paid them well … That lady on that cash register, she ain’t pushing for minimum wage. She can go home and pay her rent.”

Waters said he has 27 hires.

Customers gathered outside the grocery store early Wednesday morning to be the first inside.

Cynthia Shefton said she got there about 7, eager to take advantage of the grand opening promotions.

I think it is great,” she said.

Shefton said that when downtown was revitalized many of the businesses serving the black community were taken away.

“This is convenient,” she said. “It helps everyone, especially the black community. This is something that has been needed for a long time.”

Lester Wallace, a customer Wednesday morning, said the grocery store has been a long time coming. She said she enjoyed shopping there.

Gerald Hunter said he is glad the new grocery store is in the neighborhood. He said he lives nearby.

“I am excited about this,” said Twanna Peoples. “I live in the neighborhood, too.”

She said the grocery store is within walking distance of her home.

“I didn’t walk today, but it would be good exercise,” she said. “I think it is very important for this community and very convenient.”

She said it has been a long time in coming.

“We are blessed to have it,” she said.

“I think it is great that they have a food chain on this side of town,” said Barbara M. Moses. “We have never had a store on the north side.”

She said it has been difficult for some residents on this side of town who don’t have their own transportation to get to a grocery store. She said with a lot of chains closing or being purchased by other chains it is definitely good to have Save A Lot open.

“It is definitely good for the black community, Moses said. “They don’t have to go so far for food. It is less than five minutes out for me.”

She said with the price of gas having a grocery store in the community will save money.

Moses said she is a native of Florence and moved back about a year ago.

“This is great. I love it,” Moses said. “It is a new beginning.”

To celebrate the store’s grand opening, customers will be treated to four days of promotions. Daily giveaways of select items, such as a free two-liter of Coca-Cola or a loaf of Grissom’s bread for the first 100 customers, continue through Saturday. A free community cookout is scheduled for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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