Safeway Northern Virginia Changes

Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. No non-grocery posts.
mjhale
Gold Member
Gold Member
Posts: 206
Joined: October 2nd, 2016, 4:02 pm
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 34 times
Status: Offline

Safeway Northern Virginia Changes

Post by mjhale »

It seems that Safeway is finally starting to update some of their Northern Virginia stores. The majority of the Safeway locations in Northern Virginia have the Lifestyle interiors.

Van Dorn Street, Alexandria: Remodel to the "Colorful Lifestyle" format as it has been called by some. Safeway used this interior for its store that opened a few years ago near the Twinbrook Metro in Rockville, MD. Believe it or not the Van Dorn Street store still had the Marketplace interior up until the latest remodel. The layout wasn't substantially changed but they did get new flooring and a service meat/seafood counter. I always thought this store was a goner because it was never busy even going back to when I lived in the area in the late 1990s. When Shoppers closed in Landmark Plaza Giant moved its Van Dorn Street store to the old Shoppers leaving Safeway the only traditional grocer in this part of Van Dorn Street.

Herndon, VA: Decor change to "Colorful Lifestyle". No significant layout changes to the store. No flooring changes either. The sandwich counter, salad bar and olive bar were all removed. All of these had been closed since March 2020. Large, tall coolers have been installed in the deli to house grab and go stuff like pre-made sandwiches, pizza, wings, chicken pieces, etc. The bakery got a huge floor to ceiling unit that consolidates donuts, store made bread, and rolls and cookies all in one place as opposed to being distributed out among various island units in the bakery area.

Fairfax, VA (Fair Lakes/West Ox Road): The soup bar, salad bar, sandwich counter and olive bar have all been removed. All had been closed since March 2020. Like Herndon the large unit was installed for grab and go stuff plus fresh bagged pasta of all things. They also installed a couple of island coolers with more grab and go things like pizza, pre-made sandwiches and wings. The bakery also got the giant all in one unit for store made bread and rolls plus donuts and cookies. So far no indication of a decor swap but there are still scissor lifts out front of the store.

The Safeway stores weren't looking stale but the Lifestyle decor did need to be brightened up. My complaint of the Lifestyle format has always been that the store interior especially the perimeter is too dark. The new lighting Albertsons installed has helped a lot. The "Colorful Lifestyle" interior that Herndon and Van Dorn have now does brighten up the store. It is interesting that the probable low volume self service stuff in the deli has been removed. Probably gone due to the pandemic but also lack of use. The huge self service unit in the bakery is nice to have all of the self service stuff in one place. But it does leave some big holes in the bakery floor space to be filled.

Maybe this is the start of a larger remodeling effort in the DC area for Safeway. To me it seems there has been little recent investment in the DC area Safeway stores short of the new lighting that Albertsons installed shortly after they took over.
pseudo3d
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Posts: 3227
Joined: November 12th, 2015, 7:01 pm
Has thanked: 20 times
Been thanked: 61 times
Status: Offline

Re: Safeway Northern Virginia Changes

Post by pseudo3d »

I'm guessing the sandwich counter was a money-loser that was put in during the Lifestyle remodels. I think more places should have sandwich counters, and I've generally been happy with non-Subway sandwiches, but the lower-volume stores often neglect it and damage the reputation (again, I would know).
Bagels
Diamond Member
Diamond Member
Posts: 487
Joined: August 20th, 2018, 11:54 pm
Has thanked: 12 times
Been thanked: 44 times
Status: Offline

Re: Safeway Northern Virginia Changes

Post by Bagels »

Interestingly, several Albertsons in SoCal gained custom sandwich counters as they were converted into the "Colorful Lifestyles" décor. And while it's nice to see color, these are about as lazy (re: cheap) of a renovation as you can get...
storewanderer
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Posts: 8607
Joined: February 23rd, 2009, 3:54 pm
Been thanked: 436 times
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Safeway Northern Virginia Changes

Post by storewanderer »

Bagels wrote: April 17th, 2021, 8:17 pm Interestingly, several Albertsons in SoCal gained custom sandwich counters as they were converted into the "Colorful Lifestyles" décor. And while it's nice to see color, these are about as lazy (re: cheap) of a renovation as you can get...
The worst was the Bishop Vons where they even kept the old Lifestyle wall letters and just put color paint surrounding them.

Also the way they keep the old tan flooring really brings the overall store appearance down. I hesitate to dwell too much on that- the alternative is probably a cement floor.
pseudo3d
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Posts: 3227
Joined: November 12th, 2015, 7:01 pm
Has thanked: 20 times
Been thanked: 61 times
Status: Offline

Re: Safeway Northern Virginia Changes

Post by pseudo3d »

Bagels wrote: April 17th, 2021, 8:17 pm Interestingly, several Albertsons in SoCal gained custom sandwich counters as they were converted into the "Colorful Lifestyles" décor. And while it's nice to see color, these are about as lazy (re: cheap) of a renovation as you can get...
It's a neat asset (sandwiches) and works with some stores, but not all of them. I know that Safeway also installed several Jamba Juice kiosks inside some stores during some point, but I'm not sure if any remain at this point.
BatteryMill
Gold Member
Gold Member
Posts: 267
Joined: May 1st, 2016, 12:25 pm
Has thanked: 22 times
Been thanked: 14 times
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Safeway Northern Virginia Changes

Post by BatteryMill »

I do agree that investment has gone down since Safeway was bought out. There's far less expansion going on and a steady amount of store closings.

To be honest I much prefer Safeway pre-Albertsons. On top of the lighting changes that diminished the aesthetic, the marketing seems a bit more cluttered and the stores are a little less well-kept. If such characteristics are a net benefit, I'd rather Safeway just remodel to something more accommodating of these traits.

It is also a shame they're ditching the self-serve bars.
Alpha8472
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Posts: 2531
Joined: February 24th, 2009, 8:55 pm
Been thanked: 105 times
Status: Offline

Re: Safeway Northern Virginia Changes

Post by Alpha8472 »

The Jamba Juice kiosks were removed from all of the stores near Safeway's former headquarters. I assume Safeway terminated their agreement with Jamba Juice years ago.

The stores near the corporate office were always the ones with the most amount of luxurious features. Jamba Juice was not very popular at Safeway. The kiosk was rarely ever staffed.
storewanderer
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Posts: 8607
Joined: February 23rd, 2009, 3:54 pm
Been thanked: 436 times
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Safeway Northern Virginia Changes

Post by storewanderer »

As Starbucks got more into "juice" type drinks, the Jamba Juice concept came off as somewhat redundant. When Safeway initially rolled out Jamba, Starbucks did not really handle much beyond coffee/tea/hot cider.
storewanderer
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Posts: 8607
Joined: February 23rd, 2009, 3:54 pm
Been thanked: 436 times
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Safeway Northern Virginia Changes

Post by storewanderer »

BatteryMill wrote: April 18th, 2021, 11:33 am I do agree that investment has gone down since Safeway was bought out. There's far less expansion going on and a steady amount of store closings.

To be honest I much prefer Safeway pre-Albertsons. On top of the lighting changes that diminished the aesthetic, the marketing seems a bit more cluttered and the stores are a little less well-kept. If such characteristics are a net benefit, I'd rather Safeway just remodel to something more accommodating of these traits.

It is also a shame they're ditching the self-serve bars.
Albertsons has added additional staffing to the stores and is running much better ads than Safeway used to run. Certain regions/districts have also gotten price cut programs which was an initiative the old Safeway simply refused to seriously implement for enough of a time period for it to make a difference in customer behavior. Albertsons has also significantly expanded service deli programs with either Boar's Head, Dietz & Watson, or other brands where Safeway ran very limited assortment in service deli.

Many Safeway Stores pre-Albertsons were complete wrecks inside due to the lack of staffing, or in the case of lower volume stores, freshness issues due to pricing being too high to move a lot of their products.

On it's face the old Safeway had a better quality private label program, nicer store environment (if the store was maintained properly with enough labor which was a big problem), and the ability to execute better... but there were a lot of issues. I thin what you may be seeing there in Eastern Division is this was a division that the old Safeway seemed to pay some degree of attention to, but under the Albertsons group this division seems to be sort of forgotten.

The old Safeway if you go back to before the merger it seems to me prioritized the divisions in this order in terms of quality of operation/investment in staffing stores and driving sales:
1. NorCal
2. Vons
3. Seattle
4. East
5. Portland
6. Phoenix
7. Denver
8. Texas

Again looking back before the merger, Phoenix was interesting as most of that division was larger/Lifestyle stores yet they were getting absolutely slaughtered by competition with Safeway using what looked like a California price scale there (Albertsons has really fixed that). Perimeter departments with meat cases, dairy cases full of gallons of water and bread racks full of boxes of stuffing looked terrible across the road from very busy Fry's Stores.


I think the focus/order of division priority has changed a bit. There are noticeable improvements/efforts in Denver and Phoenix now that were not being made before and those stores have a far stronger marketing push now than they had under the old Safeway.
Bagels
Diamond Member
Diamond Member
Posts: 487
Joined: August 20th, 2018, 11:54 pm
Has thanked: 12 times
Been thanked: 44 times
Status: Offline

Re: Safeway Northern Virginia Changes

Post by Bagels »

It seems like, with few exceptions, unless it's Starbucks, kiosks in general fail. About a decade ago, Kroger committed to adding Tim Hortons kiosks at its stores in Michigan -> only a handful were built out, and they were pulled within weeks. Sad.
Post Reply