July is Independent Retailer Month, and we’re celebrating the more than 180 independent owners and operators who bring Save A Lot to numerous hometowns across the country. Here we highlight just a few of these amazing folks,
Thinking like a customer and acting like an owner is how John Leevers has seen success as a Save A Lot Retail Partner. With 29 locations across three states, Leevers is proud of his team’s investment in people and how that work has carried over into serving customers and communities. “My leadership team works diligently and deliberately with employees throughout their journey with Leevers Supermarkets to let them know the positive the impact they make in our stores and within our organization,” said John Leevers, store owner and operator. “We pride ourselves on offering all tenured employees the opportunity to become owners in our stores. We found that by being 100% employee-owned, creates a sense of pride among our people which is wonderful to see.”
For employees of Leevers’ Save A Lot locations, becoming an owner takes hard work. Out of the nearly 800 employees Leevers has, more than 300 of them have earned ownership in the company. What that means for many of them is the opportunity to not only grow their career, but their opportunities as well. “Helping employees become owners means the world to me,” said Leevers. “Seeing new faces join us each year for our owners meeting, knowing that each of them has worked hard to get here, continues to motivate me. I’m passionate about helping my employees build wealth for not only themselves, but their families as well.”
Leevers currently owns Save A Lot stores in Colorado, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Don and Judy Gabrielle
Driven to Deliver High Quality and Value
For Retail Partners Don and Judy Gabrielle, owning Save A Lot stores are about more than just providing food to people. They realize any grocery store can do that. For them, owning and operating three Save A Lot stores across Northwest Ohio and Western Pennsylvania is really about bringing high quality products at fair prices to the communities they serve. This passion has continued to drive them to operate not only efficiently, but with excellence.
From offering great everyday deals on meat and produce to having coupons on must-have items, the Gabrielles are always looking for ways to help their customers get the most for their money. “We know everyone is trying to stretch their dollars. Whether that’s on food or other items, we know everyone’s budgets are stretched these days,” said Judy Gabrielle, store owner and operator. “That’s why we’re so proud to own and operate our Save A Lot stores. We love being able to offer hot deals on items we know families need.”
The Gabrielle’s three stores are located in Columbiana and Youngstown, OH and Sharon, PA.
Rod and Angie Taylor
Family and Community Drive Success
Talk to Rod and Angie Taylor about their Tahlequah, OK store and they will tell you two things motivate them: a commitment to family and their community. They have owned and operated their Save A Lot store in the small town of Tahlequah, OK for 11 years.
With a population of about 16,000, the Taylors know the important role they play. “Rod and I love being a part of our community. From donating to local organizations we care about like Hands of Grace, which helps single mothers get on their feet, to the Care Food Pantry in town, having our Save A Lot here to serve others means the world to us,” said Angie Taylor, store owner and operator.
Owning and operating their Save A Lot is more than just community, it’s also about family. Rod says having the store enables him to work side by side with both of his sons as they grow up. “I remember showing my son Luke, now 16 how to stock the shelves and keep the store clean. It’s the same lessons I’m sharing with my 13-year-old Logan. Having the opportunity to share my passion with them is something I’ll always be thankful we did together.”
Collaboration is Key
For Andrew Leppink, being a part of the Save A Lot network is about a few key things; family, team members and collaboration. First is family for him. His Dad, John, started Leppink’s Group 1998 in Holland, Michigan. From one Save A Lot store back then to now operating six locations across southern and western Michigan, Andrew loves being able to work in the family business alongside his Dad and siblings. “I really do consider myself fortunate to be able to do what I do for a living,” said Andrew Leppink, Director of Perishables for Leppink’s Group. “Working to ensure our customers across all our stores get the freshest produce is something that continues to drive me to work hard. I know how much people depend on our stores and I’m proud to do what I can to deliver for them.”
Another aspect Andrew loves about his job is being able to support all the team members who work in their stores. The Leppink’s Group was awarded Retail Partner of the Year for owners of 5-10 stores in 2022 for their efforts to create an inclusive work culture that delivers outstanding results. One of the ways Andrew and the entire Leppink’s Group accomplishes this culture is by having each team member understand the important role they play in the success of the store. “Our store teams really do a great job of keeping all our locations clean, neat and organized,” said Leppink. “Their hard work, day in and day out helps our customers know our team is just as invested in our stores as we are.”
What brings all this success together for Andrew and his family is the spirit of collaboration not only within their organization, but the greater Save A Lot network. “Being a part of Save A Lot really means I have access to lots of others experts across the country,” said Leppink. “Not only can I count on the home office in St. Louis to help me with anything I need, but I’ve also got an entire network of Retail Partners willing to share success they’ve had with everything from what displays work best in their stores to hot selling products. I appreciate we can celebrate and share successes to help us all strengthen the Save A Lot name.”
Passion for Grocery Business Fuels Future
For Save A Lot Retail Partner Shawn Rinnier, the success his stores have now is rooted in the past with an eye for the future. As a second-generation grocery owner and operator, Rinnier knows his way around each of his 18 Save A Lot locations. Take a walk with him around any of his stores across Pennsylvania, Delaware or New Jersey and he’s quick to point out what makes that store so special to him and the community it serves. “Each of our Save A Lot locations fits perfectly into the neighborhood it’s in,” said Shawn Rinnier, store owner and operator. “Being a Save A Lot Retail Partner allows my team and I to customize our assortment to fit what the community wants and needs. That’s a huge differentiator for us in building trust and loyalty with our customers.”
Building trust and loyalty among customers and employees is an accomplishment Rinnier is especially proud to share. In a time when keeping and retaining good people has become harder, Rinnier has been able to keep employees for decades. “Providing jobs to people in the communities where we operate is great, but what I really love is being able to watch long-time employees grow in their career,” said Rinnier. “The grocery business is something I fell in love with after learning from my Dad and to be able to share that passion with others is rewarding.”
It’s that deep understanding of the grocery business that fuels Rinnier’s passion for the future. After investing in remodels across his fleet of Save A Lot locations, including his flagship store in Camden, New Jersey, Rinnier is focused on sustaining success while also growing his Save A Lot footprint. “Save A Lot is a brand that’s going to be here for a long time,” said Rinnier. “We’re going to prove that over the next few years, that we’re a force to be reckoned with.”