A new discount grocery store is coming soon to the old Ahart Market in Allentown

People looking for brand name groceries at great prices will soon have a new store to frequent in Allentown.

Grocery Outlet, an “extreme value retailer” of quality branded consumables and fresh produce sold through a network of independently owned and operated stores, is scheduled to open in early September at 1401 Allen St., in the Allen Street Mall, owner Fayez Abboud said.

The Lehigh Valley “cheap market” chain’s newest location will occupy a renovated space previously occupied by Ahart’s Market, which closed in late 2021.

It will be Abboud’s second grocery store, complementing his store in Shillington, Berks County, which he has operated for five years.

Abboud, who grew up on the East Side of Allentown before moving to Whitehall Township in high school, is eager to serve the city he once again calls home.

Coincidentally, before taking over the Shillington Grocery Outlet, he also ran a Family Dollar store for several years in the same Allentown mall.

“I’m very excited,” Abboud said. “I’ve been looking around the Lehigh Valley area since I took over Shillington. That’s where I belong.”

Based in Emeryville, California, Grocery Outlet has more than 410 stores in California, Washington, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Nevada and New Jersey.

The Allentown store, totaling more than 30,000 square feet, will complement more than 20 locations in Pennsylvania, including other Lehigh Valley area outposts in the townships of South Whitehall, Palmer Township and Quakertown.

It will feature “everything new,” Abboud said, including new floors, ceilings, lighting and refrigerators.

“We knocked everything down, including the floors,” Abboud said of the decades-old mall space, which also once housed a Laneco supermarket. “All the concrete has been set, and everything will be brand new.”

Grocery Outlet stores offer a “fun, treasure-hunting shopping experience in an easy-to-navigate small box format,” according to the chain’s website.

Stores offer an ever-changing assortment of “WOW!” offerings as well as everyday staples that inspire customers and encourage frequent visits from bargain-minded shoppers.

The chain’s flexible buying model allows it to offer quality branded products at prices significantly lower than traditional retailers.

That model includes shoppers who shop around the world, “traveling thousands of miles every year to find the hottest deals on brand name groceries,” a post on the company’s website reads.

“Whether through packaging changes, excess inventory or product overruns, our shoppers source everything – from meat and fresh produce to our natural and organic NOSH items to WOW deals, we can hardly believe us,” the message continued.

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Grocery Outlet, founded by Jim Read in 1946, also differentiates itself from other grocery store chains in that each store is run by local residents living in the communities of their stores, Abboud said.

“Every store is locally owned and operated,” he said. “We also allow our customers to save 40-70% on name brands, we guarantee excellent customer service and we are not looking to open self-checkouts. That’s one thing we’re really proud of: our one-on-one customer interaction.

Additionally, Grocery Outlet stores give back to their communities, Abboud said.

At Abboud’s Shillington store, for example, $10,000 to $15,000 worth of groceries were donated to local food banks as part of an Independence From Hunger campaign, held each July.

“Throughout the year, we also work with different food banks where we donate our products on deadline,” Abboud said.

Hours are still being finalized for the Allentown location, but Abboud predicts the store will likely be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. most days.

To stay up to date on the Allentown Grocery Outlet, follow the company’s Facebook page, facebook.com/AllenStreetGroceryOutlet.

Luz W. German