Ashley River Road location no longer considered 'vibrant'

A Piggly Wiggly supermarket that opened more than 20 years ago in West Ashley is preparing to close later this month after the grocer decided not to renew its lease.

The store at 2571 Ashley River Road is scheduled to close Oct. 27, Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co. spokeswoman Rita Postell said Thursday.

"Our lease has expired and the location is no longer a vibrant center, as it used to be," she said.

The supermarket's 33 employees will be given the option to move to other Piggly Wiggly stores, Postell said.

Nearby residents said they will miss the supermarket's convenience and friendly service.

"It's been a shock to a lot of people," said Vernelle Toole, who has been shopping at Piggly Wiggly since it opened. She said the store is ideal for the area's numerous elderly residents, many of whom don't like to drive long distances.

Once it closes, Toole, 83, said she plans to shop at the Piggly Wiggly in the Quadrangle Shopping Center near Citadel Mall, even though there are other supermarkets closer to her home.

"I'm familiar with (Piggly Wiggly's) brands and they're good," she said.

Opened in 1984, the 23,000-square-foot store is the main tenant in Church Creek Plaza, an aging, largely vacant shopping center at Ashley River and Parsonage roads. Other businesses include a Dollar General discount store and two restaurants.

Some longtime customers wondered what will become of Church Creek Plaza after Piggly Wiggly leaves.

"Once this anchor store goes, this is it for the shopping center," said Bob McCarty.

"This is a real loss to the neighborhood," he added.

The shopping center's landlord, Michigan property developer Morton L. Scholnick, declined to comment on specific plans for Church Creek Plaza, except to say his company is "working on several approaches for the center."

There are several other grocery stores in the vicinity, including a Bi-Lo, a Food Lion and a Wal-Mart Supercenter. Later this month, Publix plans to open a store a few miles away, near the intersection of U.S. Highway 17 and Main Road.

Other supermarket chains have pulled out of the area in recent years, including a Harris Teeter near the intersection of Ashley River Road and Sam Rittenberg Boulevard (now home to a wine superstore), and a Winn-Dixie at 1964 Ashley River Road (now a fitness club).

In addition to Piggly Wiggly's Quadrangle store at 630 Skylark Drive, the chain has one other West Ashley location near the intersection of Sam Rittenberg and S.C. Highway 171. The Quadrangle store will be remodeled starting in January, Postell said.

She said Piggly Wiggly could open new West Ashley locations in the future, and that the company has a few sites under consideration.

Charleston-based Piggly Wiggly Carolina operates more than 100 supermarkets, mainly in South Carolina and Georgia. The company has about 22 locations in the Charleston area, including a gourmet grocery store, Newton Farms.