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East St. Louis grocery owner says his store is closing and he's retiring

Robert Bonners sits at a public meeting, with his hand press to his mouth while listening.
File photo
Belleville News-Democrat
Robert "Bob" Bonner owns one of two Save A Lot stores in East St. Louis that is closing. Bonner opened the store in 2015 and said he did so to serve the Black community.

Editor's note: This story was originally published in the Belleville News-Democrat.

The Save A Lot grocery store at 10 Vieux Carre Drive in East St. Louis has closed, and its owner says he is retiring.

The store closed on Thursday, April 20, after eight years at the site, according to owner Robert “Bob” Bonner. Bonner expects someone else will eventually buy the site. Asked about why he closed the business, Bonner said: “It’s time for me to retire.”

“Someone else will come along and open another grocery store. I am retiring. Someone else will open it up as another grocery store,” he said. “ I’m done. I’m from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I’m retiring and going home.”

Bonner said he gave away all the remaining products in the store. “I gave it to the Urban League, Lessie Bates, a bunch of churches, and shut the doors,” he said.

AnotherSave A Lot store, at 2600 State St., remains open. It is not owned by Bonner. He opened his store in 2015. He said he did so to serve the Black community.

“Just being honest, I didn’t like how my people were being charged” at other nearby stores, he said.

“I love that community. I‘ve been there 30 something years. I fell in love with that community and there was such a need. There were so few services there when I came to the community,” Bonner said.

Around the time Bonner announced he was building his new store, Schnuckshad announced it was leaving East St. Louis.

Carolyn P. Smith is a reporter and editor with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.

Carolyn P. Smith is a breaking news reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.