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Shopping center tenants vow to continue after Carson City anchor store leaves

Of the 27 businesses that front the Plaza 50 in Carson City, home of the anchor store Sak N' Save, many of its merchants are now left to gauge how their own operations will change after learning the grocery store will close its doors for good on May 30.

But the show will go on for many of the merchants, who vow to put their best face on an otherwise bad situation. Much like the recession has been thus far in the capital city, the collective wisdom remains "hope for the best."

"Hope is the only way to think about it. And, as we're hoping, we have to have a sense of humor about it too," said Linda Bailey, branch manager of Maverick Finance, a 2-1/2 year tenant at the shopping center, situated at the east side of Carson City on Highway 50.

"Think of it this way, at least there'll be less shopping cart dents," Bailey said.

What will be done with the 40,000 square-foot store, which had for years been Scolari's before the name and brand change to Sak N' Save in October 2008, in anyone's guess. Still, owners of Plaza 50 said they will do what it takes in order to find the right fit.

"We will be looking forward. We see it as an opportunity to upgrade the center and attract new tenants," said Kathy Hone of the Hone Company which owns Plaza 50.

News that Sak N' Save was leaving is indeed a stunner, even to Hone, who learned about it Friday.

"Right now we are taking the time to assimilate this," Hone said.

Having learned the news on Monday, Carol Tickey was open for business Tuesday at Plaza 50 — her first day as the owner of A Barber Shop. The Silver Springs resident said she opened the business, partly because Sak 'N Save seemed like a good anchor that would help provide foot traffic.

"I wouldn't say Sak N' Save was the sole reason, but it was a main reason I decided to open here," Tickey said, cutting the hair of longtime Carson resident Clyde Zimmerman who said he too was caught by surprise by the closure.

The store might be good for a Costco or Winco, though the square footage may not be enough for warehouse type grocery stores, some customers said when considering the shopping center's future and what should go there next.

"In the short term I think it will be good for the other grocery stores, but it will have an impact on a lot of people in the neighborhood. There's a lot of older people who walk or are on scooters and this will make it more difficult to get to so it isn't a good thing for them," Zimmerman said. "I do think the odds are good that someone will open there. On the other hand there are an awful lot of large empty buildings in town."

Perhaps the best selling point is the amount of residential neighborhoods nearby and the volume of vehicle and foot traffic in the area.

"This is a great location, one of largest shopping centers in town," said Pam Anderson, who opened Straw Hat Pizza adjacent to Sak N' Save on April 27, not knowing the main anchor would shut down its operations. The closure announcement "pops my bubble some. I wouldn't say I'm upset but disappointed is more like it. There's a lot of traffic here, which is good. The high school is down the street. I think it is a much better location from where we were on Clearview Drive. I just didn't think we would be losing the anchor. But — and this is important — I do believe somebody will be in there. It is really a good location."

Even though the Sak N' Save anchor brings foot traffic to the center, some business owners said they've established themselves enough that the foot traffic isn't their primary customer base. Carson Vacuum and Cleaning Supplies has been in business for 40 years, and business has been good, even through the recession, said store manager Greg Beavers.

"I don't think this will affect us that much. Maybe 1 percent. After being in town for 40 years, and the loyal customer base we have, our customers know us and who we are and where we are at," Beavers said. "On the bright side, there'll be plenty of parking, so that's good."

Rene Radil, Branch office administrator of Edward Jones said the Sak N' Save closing shouldn't affect the business because the investment company doesn't necessarily depend on foot traffic from the grocery store as its customer base.

Still the closing "will leave a big hole in the area," she said.

Maverick Finance moved to the shopping center nearly 2 years ago because it was a growing business and continues to grow, manager Linda Bailey said.

"I don't feel it is going to affect us much. We always ask our customers how they've heard of us and it is word of mouth or the phone book or advertisements," she said. "We get a few walk-in, but not as many as those who learn about us by other means."

What was surprising about the announcement, is that Sak N' Save always seemed busy, she said.

"There were always people coming and going from the store," Bailey said.

Assistant manager Christine Ostler added that the shopping center will likely find a tenant because of the traffic and its setting behind large residential neighborhoods.

"I will miss it because it was so convenient," she said.

Meanwhile, of the 40 or so Sak N' Save employees who face either being laid off or transferred to other stores, there is a concern about future employment with the company. Some have been told that they may be eligible to transfer to other Scolari's-owned stores between Reno and Yerington, but there is concern that the employees won't be able to retain their current wages and benefits. Also, there was no discussion on Friday, the day the employees learned of the closing, about severance packages.

"I really feel bad for the employees who will be losing their jobs and all the customers, especially the seniors who have a hard time getting around as it is," said Straw Hat Pizza's Pam Anderson. "All we can do is hope that someone as good as Pak N' Save comes along."

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