CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio - Shoppers at Zagara's Marketplace in Cleveland Heights say they don't plan to abandon their beloved grocery when a new Walmart Supercenter opens within three miles of the store this year.
"It's a real family feeling when you know Sal in the produce department, you can call somebody by name," said Barbara Walker, who's shopped at Zagara's for nearly 30 years. "It's important for me to shop locally."
A 177,000-square-foot Walmart Supercenter is being constructed on Warrensville Center Road in South Euclid. Like other supercenters, it will sell produce, baked goods, deli items and household supplies. It's scheduled to open late summer, but Cleveland Heights resident Veronica Collis doesn't plan to go there.
"We need to think about the businesses that have been supporting the area for a while," she said. Collis said she enjoys the store's cleanliness and the friendliness of its staff the most.
"Relationships mean things to people more than just price," said store president John Zagara, whose grandfather founded Zagara's Marketplace in 1936. About 100 employees work at the store.
Zagara said he's confident his grocery will survive the potentially brutal competition from the Walmart Supercenter because his store is drastically different.
"We take it off the farm raw, unprocessed. We process it here and sell it to you all in the next day or so," he said.
Zagara and his employees pride themselves on food freshness; an area where he said he believes Walmart can't compete.
"There's more to value of food than price. If you take it home and it's not fresh, you've wasted all your time, cooking, shopping and spending that money to put in your garbage disposal," Zagara said.
Shopper Reed Markis shops specifically at Zagara's for meat, especially the Italian sausage, which is made fresh daily at the store. The longtime Cleveland Heights resident said he may visit the new Walmart when it opens, but won't make it his primary grocery store.
"Produce is always fresh (at Zagara's). Bakery is great. Everything is pretty easy to come by," he said.