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New Shop 'n Save grocery store in Hill District reduces staff

| Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, 12:42 a.m.

The operator of a long-anticipated Hill District grocery store that opened a month ago trimmed the size of its workforce, but officials said the move is part of normal adjustments that new businesses make.

Hill residents were without a neighborhood grocery store for nearly three decades before the Shop 'n Save opened Oct. 17 on Centre Avenue.

Cheryl Hall-Russell, president and chief executive officer of the Hill House Association and Economic Development Corp., which shepherded the project, said the store employed a high of 125 people. Roughly 30 store positions have turned over since then, she wrote in an email. Nine employees were “eliminated from the schedule last week as Ross Markets continues the task of determining the right mix of employees to sales.”

Operator Jeff Ross runs four other Shop 'n Save stores in Western Pennsylvania. He could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Hall-Russell said it's not unusual for stores to adjust employee numbers after opening.

Pittsburgh City Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle, who represents the Hill District and lives there, said he is not concerned.

“Nothing negative has come to my attention. From all accounts, the neighborhood is still very pleased with the store and it's well-managed,” said Lavelle, a member of Pittsburgh's Urban Redevelopment Authority, which provided $1 million to help get the store up and running.

The 29,500-square-foot store cost $11.6 million.

The project received $1.9 million in new-market tax credits through PNC Bank and the URA. Other subsidies included a $789,000 federal Office of Community Services grant; $400,000 from The Heinz Endowments; $365,000 from Rivers Casino through the Hill District Growth Fund; and $300,000 from McAuley Ministries, the grant-making arm of Pittsburgh Mercy Health System. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Ross each contributed $1 million.

George Jeffrey, a Hill District resident, said he used to take two buses to get to the Shop 'n Save on 56th Street in Lawrenceville.

“I can walk down here and ride the bus back up the hill,” he said on Thursday afternoon, with grocery bags in hand.

A “Grand Opening” sign still hangs on the store's front windows with red and white flags. Landscaping around the property is filling in.

Dale Hatten, a Hill District resident, said he used to shop in the South Side or Oakland. He has been to the new store about five times.

“It's convenient,” he said.

Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at 412-380-8511 or mdaniels@tribweb.com. Staff writer Tom Fontaine contributed to this report.

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