Safeway Rockville, MD

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storewanderer
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Safeway Rockville, MD

Post by storewanderer »

This store opened in December 2015 to much fanfare. Two smaller nearby Safeway locations closed either before or shortly after this one opened.

This article notes a Wegmans is opening nearby but has not yet started construction. This article also has some unsubstantiated rumors regarding the future of the Safeway and its lease.

http://www.rockvillenights.com/2021/06/ ... gmans.html
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Re: Safeway Rockville, MD

Post by rwsandiego »

storewanderer wrote: June 29th, 2021, 8:07 pm This store opened in December 2015 to much fanfare. Two smaller nearby Safeway locations closed either before or shortly after this one opened.

This article notes a Wegmans is opening nearby but has not yet started construction. This article also has some unsubstantiated rumors regarding the future of the Safeway and its lease.

http://www.rockvillenights.com/2021/06/ ... gmans.html
The author should point out that their site is a blog, not a news source. Something tells me this is not a substantiated or vetted story.
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Re: Safeway Rockville, MD

Post by storewanderer »

It seems odd they would shop the site around before the Wegman's even opens- if they are even shopping the site around. Who knows what the impact will actually be...

Another thought here is maybe they are shopping space in the store around- like empty tenant space in the front of the store for a bank or something... not the whole space...
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Re: Safeway Rockville, MD

Post by buckguy »

Have been to this store several times. Clean, well stocked but lacking customers, even taking into account when I've been there (usually mid-morning on a weekday). The signage is a problem, but frankly people figure out where the Safeway is after a while. When I saw that Wegman's was building here, I figured it would be the kiss of death. The article is right about the signage, but the location itself isn't a great one---it's the kind of store with indoor parking and a narrow frontage that thrives in downtown Bethesda or in DC but is out of place in Rockville where large surface lots remain the norm.

The two stores that closed were each a mile or more away and on the other side of the railroad tracks which is a social/economic divide here. Both were in neighborhoods less affluent than those on this side of tracks---one in a small shopping center (replaced by a busy Asian market) in the Twinbrook neighborhood, the other in a Loehmann's Plaza that has changed a lot over the years. The Twinbrook store was a 90s replacement for a smaller store and had no real competition, although an A&P (a post office for the last 30+ years) used to be across the street. The Loehmann's Plaza store was not far from a high volume Giant that once was the biggest store in the chain and still quite large by current standards. There used to be an A&P not far away but that has been a series of Kosher markets for many years and the Harris Teeter a bit further away never seems to have many customers. I wonder if the Twinbrook store could have survived if they'd kept it going--it was the right scale and location for an area filled with 1950s subdivisions and no major competitors.

Rockville Pike is easily the most successful suburban strip in the DC area---roughly two miles plus of retail, although the Bailey's Crossroads area in Virginia might be pretty close competition. There have always been super markets here--Congressional Plaza, diagonally across the street had A&P (later Magruders) and Giant, with a Whole Foods coming in for awhile after Giant left. Even the death of White Flint Mall (the strip's southern anchor) hasn't hurt the area. It has some big boxes like Target, Staples, Micro Center, Best Buy and a middling REI, but locally owned businesses have always been a large part of this area, including odd little restaurants (some of the best Chinese food in the DC area). Lately, properties have been getting redeveloped and more mixed use, including housing has been replacing the strips. Across the rail/metro tracks from the Safeway is some similar new mixed use development, although it seems less successful even with the presence of some large buildings rented by federal agencies and some smaller buildings occupied by small to medium non-profits.
Last edited by buckguy on July 1st, 2021, 3:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Safeway Rockville, MD

Post by mjhale »

Whether Safeway is shopping this store around or not, the reality is that Safeway has little to differentiate it from Giant which is their closest competition in the area. As someone who grew up in Montgomery County, MD Giant has always had more stores and better penetration in the market. Safeway was and is the distant second.

When Albertsons first bought Safeway the stores were cleaned up and pricing got slightly better. Now Safeway has slipped back to its usual inconsistent expensive self. Recent Safeway remodels have removed things like the soup and salad bars as well as the sandwich station at the deli. Also large, tall floor units have been installed in the bakery which block the customer from the bakery staff making it feel like what is here is what we have.

This particular Safeway is also the only development in the area that isn't set up like a standard strip mall with large parking lots close to the store. This Safeway was built in the transit, walkable type development. The article rightly states that the store is set way back from the road and has the bulk of its parking under the store not at street level. The Safeway development is more oriented to the Twinbrook subway station behind the store than to the far more busy Rockville Pike corridor in front of the store.

In my opinion, adding Wegmans to the mix only weakens this Safeway. Wegmans will be cheaper, higher quality, broader selection and be a block or two away from Safeway. There is nothing about Safeway that makes it stand out as opposed to Wegmans. Safeway doesn't have the cheap chic almost cult status that Aldi does and it doesn't have the penetration and history in the area that Giant does. If Safeway has some sort of "out" in their lease I can see why they might want to take it. I feel for the employees who will loose their jobs because Safeway just doesn't care to compete. But the reality in my mind is that Safeway has done little now or in recent history to make them anything other than a very, very, very average grocery store.
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Re: Safeway Rockville, MD

Post by mjhale »

buckguy wrote: July 1st, 2021, 3:44 pm The two stores that closed were each a mile or more away and on the other side of the railroad tracks which is a social/economic divide here. Both were in neighborhoods less affluent than those on this side of tracks---one in a small shopping center (replaced by a busy Asian market) in the Twinbrook neighborhood, the other in a Loehmann's Plaza that has changed a lot over the years. The Twinbrook store was a 90s replacement for a smaller store and had no real competition, although an A&P (a post office for the last 30 years) used to be across the street. The Loehmann's Plaza store was not far from a high volume Giant that once was the biggest store in the chain and still quite large by current standards. There used to be an A&P not far away but that has been a series of Kosher markets for many years and the Harris Teeter a bit further away never seems to have many customers. I wonder if the Twinbrook store could have survived if they'd kept it going--it was the right scale and location for an area filled with 1950s subdivisions and no major competitors..
I always wondered why Safeway closed the Loehmann's Plaza store in favor of the "replacement" Safeway that is the subject of the closing rumor. As you say the Loehmann's Plaza Safeway was east of the railroad crossing. Short of going to Wheaton or Kensington Safeway was only traditional grocer on that side of the tracks. I don't know if Safeway had money in its eyes or just wanted to get out of the Loehmann's Plaza location. Perhaps they wanted to ride the trend of transit oriented development. Or they felt the demographics didn't "fit" their store in Loehmann's Plaza anymore. On thing or another they seem to have gotten into a marginal location on Rockville Pike that now has a powerhouse competitor opening very close by.
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Re: Safeway Rockville, MD

Post by buckguy »

You're right about Giant's strength in Montgomery County, but it's also true elsewhere in the Maryland suburbs--in PG and Howard Counties. They established a large footprint in Columbia when it was first being developed.

Safeway has long had a bigger footprint in Virginia and used to have a real hammerlock on DC. I suspect they and Giant had a handshake agreement in DC for many years--one would close a store and the other would upgrade the one down the street. I saw this in Adams-Morgan, Van Ness, and the Alabama-Naylor area in SE. Oddly, Giant planned to go big rather than leave when the Social Safeway opened in upper Georgetown. The store on Newark and Wisconsin was not that far from their Van Ness store, but far enough away from the Safeway for them to keep it. That 1956 store (with 1956 signage) was museum piece that was replaced only after a long negotiation with neighborhood groups. Giant started in DC but clearly began to withdraw somewhere in the 50s or 60s, but they have opened a number of large new stores and at least one was within walking distance of a Safeway. Safeway used to charge higher prices in DC than the suburbs whereas Giant did not. That practice stopped at Safeway and it probably coincided with Safeway closing a large assortment of stores--some form the 40s, plus some marinas and more recent builds.
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Re: Safeway Rockville, MD

Post by buckguy »

mjhale wrote: July 1st, 2021, 4:07 pm
buckguy wrote: July 1st, 2021, 3:44 pm The two stores that closed were each a mile or more away and on the other side of the railroad tracks which is a social/economic divide here. Both were in neighborhoods less affluent than those on this side of tracks---one in a small shopping center (replaced by a busy Asian market) in the Twinbrook neighborhood, the other in a Loehmann's Plaza that has changed a lot over the years. The Twinbrook store was a 90s replacement for a smaller store and had no real competition, although an A&P (a post office for the last 30 years) used to be across the street. The Loehmann's Plaza store was not far from a high volume Giant that once was the biggest store in the chain and still quite large by current standards. There used to be an A&P not far away but that has been a series of Kosher markets for many years and the Harris Teeter a bit further away never seems to have many customers. I wonder if the Twinbrook store could have survived if they'd kept it going--it was the right scale and location for an area filled with 1950s subdivisions and no major competitors..
I always wondered why Safeway closed the Loehmann's Plaza store in favor of the "replacement" Safeway that is the subject of the closing rumor. As you say the Loehmann's Plaza Safeway was east of the railroad crossing. Short of going to Wheaton or Kensington Safeway was only traditional grocer on that side of the tracks. I don't know if Safeway had money in its eyes or just wanted to get out of the Loehmann's Plaza location. Perhaps they wanted to ride the trend of transit oriented development. Or they felt the demographics didn't "fit" their store in Loehmann's Plaza anymore. On thing or another they seem to have gotten into a marginal location on Rockville Pike that now has a powerhouse competitor opening very close by.
Loehmann's Plaza was an awkward place to enter/exit because of the traffic pattern there. I used like the deli that was in that plaza. I've never been to that Safeway so I don't know how it did. I wonder if there are plans to redevelop that site. It's on the wrong side of the tracks and the nearby businesses are mostly wholesalers or related to home improvement, but it may simply be old enough to try something else there. Safeway replaced their marina store in Kensington a number of years ago, so that may have given them less reason to keep the Loehmann's store, along with the competition from the much larger Giant on the other side of the tracks. Last time I was at the Kensington Safeway, that store was doing very well. The Giant in Wheaton is an odd one--it seems to do very well but replaced a really trashy store that seemed to be an excuse to keep someone else out of that location (Congressional was like that, too, in its very last days).
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