Saturday, April 17, 2010

The UnSafeway is Dead...Long Live Swanky Safeway!

Well, the new Waterfront Station Safeway at 1100 4th Street is now open for business (along with 4th Street itself!), after having a preview event on Thursday and Grand Opening on Friday. From today forward, the store will be open from 6am - 11pm. Free samples were aplenty and there were large crowds in the store (at least on Thursday when I made a shopping trip). Groceries were 10% off and coupon books were mailed out to residents with other discounts through May. I also received a free reusable bag for spending more than $40 after using a coupon from Safeway's weekly flier. Thursday was my second visit at the store, after getting a sneak peek a couple weeks ago. When I went on Thursday and again on Friday morning, I could tell that several of the staff were recently trained or were still in the process of being trained, so it will take a while for all the bugs to be worked out that's expected when a new store opens. The food court area seemed a little cramped at spots and there wasn't a price list yet at the sushi bar, but for the most part it was an enjoyable experience. I did recognize some of the employees from the old store (it's been a couple years since I shopped at the old Safeway), but there were several new faces as well. For instance, while at the store yesterday morning with a neighbor, we spoke with Jessie, the produce manager who was brought in from a store in VA, and he was diligent about keeping inventory of produce & noting which items needed replenishing. He said for us to check up on him in a month to make sure he was still doing a good job, so we'll take him up on his offer. I'm just thrilled that I can now walk to a quality grocery store! What do you think of the new store?

27 comments:

runningindc said...

It is a wonderful feeling to have a grocery store this close that I can shop in. I am way to giddy about this...
For now it looks like they left the horseflies at the old store...that makes me happy!
I am hopeful that Safeway won't drop the ball and let this new store decline...

Anonymous said...

Stopped in Friday night around 8pm. The place was packed with more people than I've ever seen. Quite a diversity of folks there. One lady I talked to stopped going to the old store because of the long lines. So I can imagine more people in the neighborhood are will be shopping there now. I was a little frazzled as I was late meeting some friends so my second trip should be more relaxing. Hmmmmm, Sunday sounds good!

claudio said...

I stopped by at about 8pm Friday night. The lines were long, and the cashier seemed overwhelmed with everybody using coupons for free items.

I'm very excited about the new store and the variety of offerings.

Anonymous said...

It's still "Safe Wait" for now. Lines last night like I never even saw in the old store--40 minutes. Like you said, I hope they work out the bugs, and I'm still optimistic and grateful that we have this new store. But a little process improvement analysis would really help them figure out how to turnover those registers faster. One thing I've noticed is the "one hand" approach to scanning groceries. You need constant movement-scan one item while you're reaching for the next-or the line is going to back up. No one is training them that way, and it shows.

During the evening crush, each line needs a dedicated courtesy clerk/bagger that can run and do price checks, etc. It's a two-person operation. They also need a dedicated "up front" shift supervisor that does nothing but oversee those registers, authorizing voids, ok'ing alcohol purchases, etc., etc.

I also think they seriously low-balled the number of registers they need. Rather than making us walk through the "casino floor" to get to the actual groceries, they could have used some of that space for more registers.

They wanted, and were granted, the community's permission to get their alcohol license-any grocery store operation knows that's where it will make its real money. Now Safeway needs to hold up its end of the bargain and make sure that, opening day or not, 40 minutes is unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

a.maz.ing.

I went this afternoon and just couldn't believe it. The lines didn't seem too long, so perhaps it was Friday night/opening day crowding. We checked out at the express lines and were the only ones there. There were a lot of people in the store, and samples all over the place. I love the huge produce and prepared foods sections. In general it's such a vast improvement over the old Safeway. I even like the layout better than the one in CityVista (I think the lighting there is harsher or something). Hopefully they can keep it up, as my roommate and I are super excited to not have to drive for groceries any more!

technosophe said...

Overall, I'm impressed with the store. I think they will eventually iron out the issues with the crowd control at the registers (only 3 regular registers?), and you can't judge their normal performance on opening weekend.

The cheese bar, sandwich station, pizza station, florist, and bakery are excellent. Produce is a big improvement. The sushi counter seems a bit out of place in SW, but perhaps that will be successful as well.

At its core, it's still of Safeway, of course. Meat and seafood overall are just average, but it's not like I was expecting the quality of the actual items to improve at all. Can only put so much lipstick on a pig.

Nevertheless, the store itself is a VAST improvement over the old one, which was a nightmare.

Anonymous said...

I went to the store at about 10pm Sat. night to get a few things for a late dinner. I was very disappointed to see that there were only two registers open. All the self-checkouts were closed, the express registers near the door were closed, and there were two long lines that moved very slowly.

Don't get me wrong. I love the store, and it is fabulous to have something of this quality only a two block walk away.

But I was surprised to see no manager around, and the other staff was busy tending to cleaning up, so we just had to stand there. And it was only Day 2. :(

Anonymous said...

The new store is a miraculous improvement over the old, only a madman would say otherwise. The decor and lighting are wonderful, I agree with a poster above that this is even nicer (and seems much larger) than CityVista.

It is almost 2 stores in one, a luxury foods vendor with the three express lanes up front, then a tradition supermarket with 7 cashiers and 6 self-service kiosks in the back.

My suggestions:
1) The old customer service problems still seem to be there. There were two gals with no customers in the floral kiosk and I asked them where the Bergman's dry cleaners/laundry where. "Don't know, but you can check at custoemr service." Lazy.

2) Once I got to customer service, it turned out there is no Bergman's, you can just leave you laundry with them if you don't mind the wait with people buying lottery tickets, refunds, etc etc etc. Forget that.

3) To the above point, with a line of 5 people and 1 employee, two managers are standing nearby chatting. Suggestion: Get behind the counter and wait on customer.

4) I was there last night and was disappointed to see there was not one minority employee to be seen in any department of the store. Until Safeway realizes that their workforce should reflect the ethnic diversity of SW and the DC region, the store will never reach it's potential.

5) Finally, there was a very loud and coarse fund-raising effort at the check stands last night, with hootin' and hollerin' over the PA system each time someone gave even a penny. Let's just say it isn't what you'd see/hear at Harris Teeter or Whole Foods, or at a Safeway in NW.

SWMichele said...

The new Safeway is amazing. I am thrilled to finally have a local grocery store and to stop trekking to the Harrist Teeter in SE. In response to a few earlier posts: there were tons of minority employees working there when I went on Sunday morning, so I definitely think the workforce reflects the SW neighborhood. There are definitely a few bugs with how cashiers and managers work together to resolve problems that come up at the checkout line. One of the worst problems in the old Safeway (and the reason that time and time again I'd just give up and leave), was the huge lines that built up--I'm hoping that this shiny new Safeway will work to make sure that they don't have the same problems with the lines. Finally, the staff members were very nice and extremely helpful.

Overall, this is a fantastic addition to the neighborhood and I can't wait for more stuff to come in!

Just Dora said...

We went Saturday night after the Nats game, so around 7. The lines weren't too long, 4 or 5 deeps, and the self check out had no line. We used that for our 10 items and found out a few bus that still exist in that system. Bringing your own bags totally screws with the scales apparently and we ended having to have a CS girl with us to override every scan. It was insane.
That said HOLY COW to the produce section alone! We spent $40 after our 10% discount and coupons and it was ALL produce. This is a good thing! The bakery manager stopped to chat with me and seemed nice. (I failed to mention to him I applied for a position in his bakery for which I was qualified and never got a call back, but I digress.)
Over all I was VERY pleased. While we didn't buy beer, wine or meat, the selections of all of those are pretty good, though I think the beer could use a little more selection. In this up and coming area a few more micro brews would be great (SE Safeway has better selection.)

Craig said...

I haven't stepped into the old Safeway in years for all the reasons we're familiar with. This store is a solid sign that Safeway was serious in its investment in SW. Both times I have been there it has been extremely busy and the employees have been beyond courteous.

I found the assistant manager right in front of the registers on Sunday evening, which have been placed directly in front of customer service. Employees were there to assist folks in the learning curve of self checkout. And to my observation, the majority of staff are clearly minority employees.

Lastly, when people want to make a point, please don't take the time to embellish your argument so that it seems more serious than it truly is. Nobody waited forty minutes to check out. There were no lines running the length of the aisle. If fact, at the west end of the store by the prepared foods, I found all three check outs completely free of customers Sunday evening when the store was packed.

For all the rightful complaining we did about the old store, we equally have a responsibility to commend Safeway and this new staff for a fantastic opening.

Anonymous said...

The wine prices are sky-high. They want $18 for a large bottle of Cavit that is about $13 across the river---where alcohol taxes are about 10 times as much, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Remember that in DC, a "minority" employee is white, Asian, Hispanic. Safeway needs to have about a quarter white and 10% each Asian and Hispanic staff if they want to reflect the diversity of the hood and the District. It's not only good business, it's sort of the law.

HRH King Friday XIII, Ret. said...

Its incredible (SO FAR). Could potentially be the cherry on top of the waterfront redevelopment cake. You mentioned they kept some of the old Safeway employees. I noticed that too, and it seems that they kept the employees that did their jobs very well despire the crappy work environment at the old store. There's one guy-- I think his name is Brian-- was always so helpful and nice at the old store. I'm glad they kept him and other like him at the new store.

Caity Bierman said...

"4) I was there last night and was disappointed to see there was not one minority employee to be seen in any department of the store. Until Safeway realizes that their workforce should reflect the ethnic diversity of SW and the DC region, the store will never reach it's potential."

THIS IS COMPLETELY UNTRUE. I have no idea what you were talking about. It was completely diverse, almost 100% minority, which is simply an observation. This comment is completely wrong.

Besides that, I had no problems with the lines. I'm not sure why people expected to have short lines on opening night? People have been waiting for this store to open for weeks and for some, years. Calm down.

Same with the starbucks, new employees..it's understandable if things are slow.

Loved it.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the staff was racially diverse (by which I mean "of different races," not "all black folks"). Some of them seemed really driven and interested in customer service--like the guy who helped me find Brita filters--and others, not so much.

I loooove the self-checkouts but I rang up my coupons wrong and needed to wait a long time to get a refund at customer service. However, I ended up getting $56 worth of groceries for $29 so I really can't complain. The coupons were super and my cabinets and freezer are full.

A few minor gripes: people don't seem to know how to use the trash cans outside the store (you have to push down the center part! don't just dump your trash on top!), it's unclear how far you can wheel your cart, there isn't a redbox or a coin counter yet (though I've been told outside vendors will deliver these soon), and I'd like if it stayed open a little later, especially on weekends.

I agree with the person who said it's like two stores in one...the grocery section, except for the produce, doesn't really seem any bigger or nicer than the old store. In fact, the layout is kind of confusing and it'll take me a while to get used to it. But it's kind of like we got a nice food court and liquor store and coffee shop and bakery to go with it...so I can't hardly complain!

I wish they hadn't wasted space on a pharmacy since CVS is next door, and I feel bad for the dry cleaners across the street, but that's capitalism I guess.

Anonymous said...

Caity: By racially diverse, the poster meant that the store's staff should roughly reflect the demographics of the neighborhood, city, region, whatever the service area is defined as. When she was there last Sunday, there was not one white, Asian, or Hispanic employee to be seen in any capacity, front to back. That's not only bad business in today's diverse world, I question if it isn't illegal in EEOC terms.

Anonymous said...

While we're on the subject of "racially diverse" ...

During my two trips so far, I've seen more Caucasians and Asians at the Safeway than I saw the entire 10 years I was going to the old Safeway. So if anyone thinks they have the demographics down of the neighborhood you better rethink that. I sure am.

Anonymous said...

This is definitely NOT the Swanky Safeway. I have shopped that store and the shoppers do not fit the profile of Swanky by any definition of the term.

Caity Bierman said...

To anon at 8 57 april 20. :

Sorry, obviously you read the first person's comment wrong. they said they did not see one minority ..aka not white person there. Which is completely wrong. Perhaps they did not mean that, but they messed up what they were saying.
If they really did mean "not one minority employee", wouldn't that mean no black/asian/spanish employees? ...which is not true.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who missed the preview party on Thursday April 15th, all of the corporate people and regional managers and other big wigs were present and they were all white males. Where's the diversity there?

Anonymous said...

Caity: Blacks are a majority in DC, not a minority.

Anonymous said...

Love the new Safeway, but what is up with the whooping that goes on over the PA system in the store?

Anonymous said...

"..other big wigs were present and they were all white males." Oh please! Enough already.

Just Dora said...

@ Anonymous said... "Love the new Safeway, but what is up with the whooping that goes on over the PA system in the store?"

When someone donates even a penny to their current chairty, they whoop.
Last night I cracked up because a male voice over the PA said "_some name_ I need a break man, seriously. I gotta get a breather for real." Ah, same bizarre employee announcements over the PA.

Anonymous said...

' Anonymous said...
"..other big wigs were present and they were all white males." Oh please! Enough already.

April 22, 2010 12:30 PM"


Person #1: There aren't any white people working at this store.

Person#2: I was here for the preview party and all the corporate people were white.

Person #1: OK, let's change the subject.

Person #2: Huh?

Stacy said...

I just noticed today that the "height strips" (don't know the real name...the thing that has the heights on it, so you can check the security footage and see how tall a shoplifter is) by the entrance are hung way too low...I'm 5'1", but I'd be over 6 feet according to those markers!

In other news, I love the samples they have! wonder how long those will be around?