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End of an era: Spag’s building in Shrewsbury demolished

Spag’s on Route 9 in Shrewsbury is being torn down to make way for a development anchored by a Whole Foods.
Spag’s on Route 9 in Shrewsbury is being torn down to make way for a development anchored by a Whole Foods.(Jim Davis/globe staff/file 2002)

The wrecking ball has finally come for Spag’s, the iconic discount store on Route 9 in Shrewsbury.

Demolition began Monday on the site of the store, which drew generations of Central Massachusetts shoppers with its deep discounts, and its “no bags, no credit cards, no shopping carts” policy and its annual tomato seedling giveaways.

Southborough-based Grossman Development Group is moving forward with plans to turn the site into a 375,000-square-foot mixed-use housing and retail development anchored by a Whole Foods.

Started by Anthony “Spag” Borgatti, the store was a pioneer of discount retailing, offering a smorgasbord of household goods, clothes, tools and more at low prices, kept low in part by the practice of not using shopping bags or accepting credit cards until well into the 1990s.

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After Borgatti died in 1996, his family ran the store for several years before selling to Building 19 in 2002. That discount chain operated the store until 2013, when it closed.

The redevelopment of the site, which will be known as Lakeway Commons, was held up in court until last week, when a panel of state appeals judges dismissed a lawsuit by a rival developer who said Shrewsbury officials had given Grossman Development preferential treatment in zoning decisions for the site.

Grossman plans to break ground on the new development this spring and open it next year, according to the MetroWest Daily News.

The site will become a mixed-use development known as Lakeway Commons.
The site will become a mixed-use development known as Lakeway Commons. (Joanna Rathe/Globe staff/file 2014)
A giant tribute to the late founder of the store greeted Spag’s customers.
A giant tribute to the late founder of the store greeted Spag’s customers. (Jim Davis/Globe staff/file 2002)

Watch: Old Spag’s commercials


Tim Logan can be reached at tim.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.