Pawlak family going back to independent roots with Albion grocery store

Photo by Tom Rivers: A new banner is on the former Pawlak’s Save-A-Lot in Albion. The site was a Save-A-Lot for 15 years. On Saturday, it switched to Pawlak’s Food Center.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 April 2017 at 1:26 pm

Pawlak’s no longer a Save-A-Lot in Albion

ALBION – The Pawlak family, a fourth-generation grocery store operator in Orleans County, is going back to its roots as an independent grocery store.

The family for 15 years operated a Save-A-Lot in Albion at 320 West Ave. On Friday, Jerome Pawlak and his son Joe had their last day running the store as a Save-A-Lot.

On Saturday it became Pawlak’s Food Center. The store is affiliated with the Olean Wholesale Grocery Cooperative, which serves independently owned groceries in New York, Pennsylvania and northeast Ohio.

“We have decided to join this group and will complete the conversion of the store shortly,” the Pawlak family said in a message to customers. “We ask that you bear with us during the remodeling period.”

The family has been in the grocery business for 57 years, starting in Lyndonville. It ran a Save-A-Lot in Holley for about 3 ½ years before closing in September.

The Pawlak family ran the Albion store as a Shurfine from 1997 to 2002, before Jerome Pawlak changed to a Save-A-Lot to better compete against Tops, which opened a new store next door. Since then, Walmart opened a Supercenter in Albion (in 2006) with groceries as well as general merchandise.  Walmart also has supercenters in Lockport, Batavia and Brockport. An Aldi Foods also has recently opened in Medina.

Pawlak said it’s a very competitive business. His family puts a focus on giving the customers what they want. Pawlak said he was sometimes constrained by Save-A-Lot in what the store offered and how he ran discounts and other specials.

“Save-A-Lot dictated a lot of what we could do,” Pawlak said. “Now we can be more customer-driven.”

Pawlak’s Food Center will carry more items. The freezer already has been stocked full with Perry’s Ice Cream. Pawlak’s will carry more Western New York products, including Sahlen’s hot dogs.

“We must continually evaluate our business to best serve the needs of our valued customers, our associates and our community,” the Pawlak family said in a message posted at the store.

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