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Charleroi Save A Lot closing

| Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, 12:46 a.m.
Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
Antonio Steadman and Tina Leonard of Charleroi, load up their car after shopping at the Save A Lot in Charleroi on Wednesday, Febuary 11, 2014.

Vince Vaccaro was a teenage stock boy when he met Charlotte – his future wife and an employee at the Charleroi Foodland.

He has spent a lifetime and a career at that grocery store in the 100 block of McKean Avenue, purchasing it in 1985. A decade later, the Vaccaros converted it to Save A Lot.

On Tuesday, Vince Vaccaro told store employees that he is retiring after more than 45 years in the grocery business.

Vaccaro told The Valley Independent he plans to close Save A Lot “sometime in March.”

“It's pretty much been my life,” said Vaccaro, 62. “I will probably miss the business. But it will be good to have a day off, a weekend off.”

Borough and Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce officials could not recall any time in Charleroi's century-plus history that it has not been home to a grocery store.

Debbie Keefer, executive director of the Charleroi-based chamber, said Vaccaro informed the organization of his decision Wednesday.

Keefer said an effort will be made to recruit a grocer to the borough. The closest grocery stores to Charleroi are the Fisher Heights Giant Eagle in Carroll Township and the Monessen Foodland.

“It's our thought that the chamber and borough will get together and try to make sure it won't be for an extended time,” Keefer said. “We're going to combine our efforts.”

Keefer said a grocery store is “an important part of a community.”

“We're very disappointed we're not going to have a grocery store,” Keefer said.

Vaccaro said he will keep his options open for the building, which the family owns. That might include aiding efforts to attract a grocer.

Vaccaro said it is “time for a break.”

“I'll miss not getting up and coming here in the morning,” Vaccaro said. “We've been discussing it, and the business is just not the same.

“The best thing about being in business is that I got to meet a lot of people and serve lot of people. And you're your own boss.”

The worst?

“Getting a phone call at 3 a.m. that your alarm went off.”

Mayor John Mollenauer, a lifelong Charleroi resident, said he could not recall a time the borough was without a grocery store.

“The grocery store operations have changed drastically,” Mollenauer said. “It's probably economically difficult to operate a sizable grocery store in a small town.”

Mollenauer said borough and chamber officials hope to “rekindle the flame for some grocery store to come into town.”

“We'll do whatever we can to help this situation,” Mollenauer said.

“It's a concern for the chamber and the borough, no question about it. But this is a private enterprise. They can do what they want.”

Mollenauer noted that the borough is not in the grocery business.

“We just want to offer any support from the borough, chamber and council,” he said. “If someone is interested, we hope we can help start fresh.”

Keefer said the Vaccaros will be missed.

“Vince and Charlotte Vaccaro are longtime chamber members and wonderful people,” Keefer said.

“While we are happy that they will begin a new chapter in their lives with retirement, we will greatly miss their presence in the community.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or