New Businesses Bring Added Convenience Downtown
By Kelsey Morrow
Downtown Augusta’s first ever grocery store opened this past week.
While Downtown is no stranger to convenience markets, such as the Metro Market on Broad Street, the family-owned and operated Happy Pantry, located at 718 Greene Street, will be the first downtown store of its kind to offer the wide assortment of products typical of a larger, full-service grocery store.
“Happy Pantry has everything from toilet paper to cereal to eggs to sandwich meats,” Diana Laluz, owner of the Happy Place, said. “Downtown doesn’t have any real grocery stores, and people downtown cannot get places as quickly as in other areas.”
The idea for Happy Pantry came about from Laluz’s father, Dan Kalasa.
“My dad has worked at St. John’s Towers for over 20 years as a driver, taking residents to places like grocery stores and restaurants,” Laluz said. “He saw an opportunity to fill a need with the Happy Pantry.”
In keeping with Kalasa’s dedication to St. John’s Towers, Happy Pantry will also offer delivery on some items to St. John’s residents for added convenience.
In addition to the Happy Pantry, the family also runs Hem and Sew, an alterations and dry cleaning business which is located in the same building.
Sook Kalasa, Diana’s mother, manages the dry cleaning operations, making it a true family-run business. She has worked in the industry for over 20 years, including military dry cleaning.
Laluz explained that as an Augusta native, she is happy to be able to contribute to the city’s growing downtown.
“We always try to support downtown, and its businesses,” Laluz said. “It’s exciting to see the growth in this area.”
Laluz also mentioned that the business is hoping to implement a “We Back the Badge” campaign in support of local law enforcement.
In addition to their dedication to downtown, the Laluz and Kalasa families are also dedicated to their customers.
“Even though we are a small store that is just starting out, we want to fill our customer’s needs,” Laluz said. “If you don’t see the products that you want, let us know and we will try our best to get it stocked.”
Happy Pantry and Hem and Sew are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.