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"Local" - where did it go?

Posted: September 11th, 2022, 8:34 pm
by storewanderer
Was in Denver again.

Previously I noticed a strong effort on marketing of "local" products at Safeway and King Soopers. Colorado beef, Colorado produce, various other goods produced in Colorado marketed in store.

At King Soopers, there was still pretty heavy company produced Colorado marketing and signs on many produce items showing where the item came from (what city, why it was a good product, etc.). However their 100% pre-cut beef is now "Kroger USDA Choice Beef" or something, no reference to Colorado. King Soopers still had heavy marketing in produce of Colorado items; during my visit these items included peaches (1.69/lb), hot house tomatoes, vine cluster tomatoes, various lettuce, yams, onions, and various other items. This was in both regular and Organic varieties. In center store various Colorado items are flagged with shelf tags and rather prominently displayed.

At Safeway- I don't know what happened. This is the one who previously marketed cut in store Colorado beef. Not anymore. All reference to the beef being from Colorado has been removed. Also at Safeway there was ZERO in store signage in produce about ANY local product. Upon closer examination Safeway did have conventional (no Organic) Colorado peaches in some stores (2.99/lb) but you'd only know if you looked at the sticker on the peach itself. All tomatoes at Safeway were from Mexico, not one from Colorado. The other produce, who knows, nothing was marked as being from Colorado. In center store they had a few items with Colorado tags but they were few and far between, hardly highlighted. Does Albertsons even have a Denver division anymore or is the whole thing being run from some place else (but where... these stores look so terrible compared to the Intermountain stores...)? From the looks of things it doesn't feel like there is any local decision making on buying taking place at all.

Safeway is in a world of hurt around Denver. I question how long they can continue in the Denver metro. I cannot believe what I saw with their stores, and how low the customer traffic was. This is really bad, like some of the most distressed operators I have observed in other places; the stores have that same dead vibe and lack of customers as a below average Food Lion, Winn Dixie, or Homeland. The stores are very tired physically; they've done the Albertsons lighting upgrade? and also some wall repaint only remodels to the "Modern" interior (the "better" stores also get a cement floor but they keep all the old displays/refrigeration, old tiles behind deli/bakery/seafood, etc.) but it really makes little difference. Most of these looked far more upscale as lifestyle stores. I saw one store with deli closed at 3 PM, another with deli closed at 6:30 PM (this was a converted Albertsons), and I've never seen Safeways with so little fresh product out in meat, produce, and bakery as these stores around Denver suburbs. I did go out of the way to find a couple of Safeways without a King Soopers within 10-15 miles and those two stores looked more like a below average NorCal Safeway in terms of their perimeter, staffing, and freshness but something still felt "off" in them. Safeway does appear to be doing a little bit better around Colorado Springs for some reason in terms of customer traffic but the stores still look tired and sad. Target, Wal Mart, and King Soopers are absolutely packed in Denver. Denver needs a different grocer to enter and shake things up. Safeway is dead chain walking in metro Denver. King Soopers has it way too easy there. Hy Vee is making a mistake not going into Denver.

Re: "Local" - where did it go?

Posted: September 12th, 2022, 8:30 am
by jamcool
Safeway’s cash cow in Colorado is the smaller towns, which are too small for/won’t let in Walmart. Their only other competitor in those Colorado mountain towns is City Market, which is an equivalent in store quality/design ( and is a cash cow for Kroger)

Re: "Local" - where did it go?

Posted: September 15th, 2022, 12:15 am
by storewanderer
Funny now was in NorCal Safeway tonight and what is there mixed in with their many Mexico Vine Tomatoes was a number of broken Colorado Vine Tomatoes.

Very unusual to see Colorado Tomatoes for sale out here. I have seen them in the past, at Smiths (which is coming out of a Utah distribution center, so that kind of makes sense). It makes no sense why Safeway in Colorado is selling Mexico tomatoes very recently yet then NorCal Safeway somehow gets a load of Colorado tomatoes. What screwed up logistics.

Re: "Local" - where did it go?

Posted: September 19th, 2022, 1:43 am
by HCal
My guess would be that due to supply chain disruptions, they may have had to occasionally get certain products from outside the region, that were normally supplied locally. Therefore, they may have removed the "local" signage in order to avoid false advertising. Keeping track of the source of the products and then removing and reinstalling signs would be too logistically difficult.

Sad to hear about the condition of Safeway stores in Colorado. As in the rest of the country, I think inflation is driving people away from "conventional" stores and into "discount" stores. There may be room for only one conventional grocery store in the market, and Kroger is better positioned to win the remaining customers who are still willing to go to a conventional chain.

Re: "Local" - where did it go?

Posted: September 20th, 2022, 10:24 pm
by storewanderer
HCal wrote: September 19th, 2022, 1:43 am My guess would be that due to supply chain disruptions, they may have had to occasionally get certain products from outside the region, that were normally supplied locally. Therefore, they may have removed the "local" signage in order to avoid false advertising. Keeping track of the source of the products and then removing and reinstalling signs would be too logistically difficult.

Sad to hear about the condition of Safeway stores in Colorado. As in the rest of the country, I think inflation is driving people away from "conventional" stores and into "discount" stores. There may be room for only one conventional grocery store in the market, and Kroger is better positioned to win the remaining customers who are still willing to go to a conventional chain.
Kroger in Colorado has no problem installing those "Local" signs all over. And I did not see any false advertising with the signs. To be fair I have not seen that type of signage at Ralphs, Fred Meyer, QFC, Smiths, etc. in quite some time either. So that must be something the King Soopers is handling on its own. In the past 2 years King Soopers has gone through and done a lot of store remodels to some stores that really needed remodels. I don't care for the remodels but getting past everything King Soopers has very big stores with a very big selection of merchandise available and even if operations are a bit sloppy under Kroger like the lack of employee uniforms and spotty perimeters, they have a ton to offer and do a good job on freshness/price solely because of the very high customer counts they have.

Safeway is in pathetic shape in the south suburbs of Denver. Multiple newer stores have closed. The Albertsons conversions appear to be performing very poorly, one I went into looks like it is barely staying afloat. The conversions were done cheaply. Put another way- Safeway in Colorado if King Soopers is nearby reminds me of a weak Save Mart. The exteriors don't look great, the shopping centers they are in have little traffic and are obviously weak, and the perimeters inside the stores are so lightly stocked you cannot believe it. Delis close early and have very minimal staffing (service bell on top of the counters in multiple of the stores; Safeway delis are designed with prep areas all open explicitly so this should not be on top of the counters).

Denver is a market that should have room for two solid conventional chains. The growth out there is absolutely explosive. Newer King Soopers Marketplace units are so busy on weekends you'd think you were at a Wal Mart. In multiple cases there is no Safeway for 10+ miles from some of the King Soopers Marketplace units sitting in the NE Denver new neighborhoods such as Green Valley Ranch and Commerce City (there was once an old run down 80's Safeway at Green Valley Ranch/Chambers in Denver even with a gas station and that is closed; a newer 00's Albertsons across the road failed real fast and is now a Wal Mart Neighborhood Market). Ton of growth in Brighton and King Soopers has a large busy high volume standard store in the older section and a new Marketplace in a newer section; an old 80's Safeway sits between the two with Cardboard Lifestyle interior; just pathetic facility though one of the better executed Safeways I saw, barely hanging on with so few customers. Albertsons screwed up big time hanging its hat on the Safeway format in Denver. They should have kept the Albertsons format (those last few Albertsons were doing quite well under LLC with better perimeters/pricing) and that could have been a market where they could have made a real splash with the Market Street format if they could run it well. The current Safeway Denver Division appears so weak operationally that I highly doubt they could pull off a Market Street format given how their typical stores look. That Safeway Denver Division runs such a weak operation they could join Homeland in OK and basically fit right in (in some cases their stores look much worse than a Homeland looks).

At this point I think the field is wide open for a good conventional to show up. Hy Vee would be great. There aren't many grocers expanding at this point. I am a little surprised WinCo skips over Denver but they must have their reasons (maybe something to do with how Cub did in Denver). Lowe's Food out of TX/NM does have 3 hispanic format stores in Denver metro which may be former Avanzas from Nash Finch; I went into the Aurora Store (another failed Safeway reusing many Safeway fixtures/refrigerations) and it was super busy but really I just found it to be very lacking for my needs; strange mix of items and very weak pricing on produce. Bought some store made flour tortillas and they were warm but just not good; too salty. Meat and bakery were very busy and store was clean; self checkout had been recently installed.

Re: "Local" - where did it go?

Posted: September 21st, 2022, 12:32 am
by jamcool
King Soopers’ West Colorado sister, City Market, is another story.

Re: "Local" - where did it go?

Posted: September 22nd, 2022, 12:18 am
by storewanderer
jamcool wrote: September 21st, 2022, 12:32 am King Soopers’ West Colorado sister, City Market, is another story.
I've only been in a couple of City Markets. The ones I went to seemed just like a King Soopers but with a different sign out front. One was in Canon City, a very busy store, competing against a completely dead Safeway with the mid 90's interior. Another was somewhere up in the mountains along the interstate west of Denver, also extremely busy, I think it was the only store there. There was a Safeway a few miles further west in the next town which was a full service but smaller store, and relatively busy.

I am guessing City Markets tend to be less upgraded, smaller, and many still follow the old 80's Dillon model? I know those 80's Dillon model stores are some of the most boring stores... the City Market HQ was in Grand Junction if I recall correctly when it still had a HQ so I assume the stores around Grand Junction are well updated.