Battle of the Safeways: Haves Vs. Have Nots

Petworth’s Safeway on Georgia Ave (3830 Georgia Ave, NW)

Georgetown’s new Safeway on Wisconsin Ave (1855 Wisconsin Ave, NW)

While I’m very happy with the YES! Organic Market a bit further up the block at Georgia and Taylor, I find it pretty appalling to compare the Petworth Safeway to the Georgetown Safeway. I understand that Georgetown residents have a lot of money to spend so obviously they are going to get a nice store but Petworth residents were told time and time again that this relic on Georgia Ave was going to be upgraded. Whenever I ask Mayor Fenty or Council Member Bowser they say, plans are still in the works. But Lord – how long must we wait. Quite frankly I just don’t like all the bullshit. If they’re not going to upgrade the Georgia Ave Safeway then just say so. Be honest with us, we can take it. I’ve heard lots of rumors as to why the Safeway upgrade has stalled. Some blame residents, some blame Safeway, some blame funding/tax break issues. But are we not entitled to an honest answer?

So once and for all – should the Georgia Ave Safeway be upgraded? If so, what is the responsibility of Safeway, our elected leaders and/or the residents to make sure this happens.  I believe that Mt. Vernon Square (City Vista), Adams Morgan, Georgetown, Navy Yard (SW Waterfront) all have new or upgraded stores.  Besides Petworth what other neighborhoods do you think are due for an upgrade?

I can tell you when I walked into the Georgia Ave store this weekend I was hit with a foul odor. When I walked into the Wisconsin Ave store, I could swear that the aisles were paved with gold. Not to speak for all but I’d be happy with half as nice an upgrade in Petworth.

Luncheon meats at Georgia Ave above.

A portion of the cheese selection at Wisconsin Ave below.

197 Comment

  • I completely agree! I asked an employee at the Petworth store who said that they were still planning to make it a “lifestyle” store. But he couldn’t say when. He actually came over to this store b/c the Wheaton store is being re-done. Hello? What about us? Everyone who works at the Petworth store is great but it smells! And whenever I shop there I find out at home that at least one item has already expired. ERG. I want that beautiful new store that we were promised!

    • But isn’t the issue with expired items because the Petworth staff and management aren’t doing their jobs as people? Isn’t the issue here that the safeway employees at the petworth location don’t care?

      • I think they upgraded the “social safeway” so when the King Abdullah of Jordan comes to DC every other month he has a greater selection of cheeses (more than in the Senate and Congress) that he can chose from. I mean he has plenty of nuts and pecans in Jordan

  • Safeway will only upgrade the Georgia Avenue location if customers start ditching that location for another store. The Whole Foods up Wisconsin probably took quite a few customers from the Social Safeway so they had to upgrade. I’m assuming there are no better options close to the Georgia Avenue Safeway. The Giant on Rhode Island finally tried to make some changes in response to the influx of Harris Teeters. The city council should not get involved in forcing stores to improve their service. Customers should voice their displeasure with their feet.

    • I live three blocks from the Petworth Safeway and refuse to do my weekly shopping there, I go to Harris Teeter or Giant. I suspect there is a large number of Park View and Petworth residents who have already “ditched” this Safeway.

      • I’ve lived in Petworth for a month and have already ditched Safeway for the Giant in Columbia Heights. I drive over there, they validate my parking, have a huge selection, and have more then 3 check-out lanes 🙂

  • They finally started stocking artichokes in Petworth. Then they are always dried out. What, are we too ghetto to get artichokes? It’s blatant racism. At least they always have multipacks of steaks. But seriously, just one kind of mint jelly and its the intolerable Safeway brand?

    • The ARTICHOKES are racist?

      Let me tell you a secret – artichokes at many groceries throughout the city are always dried out. I know, because I am originally California and love them. Artichokes have a shelf life of just a few days from picking, so if they are not quickly bought they dry out.

      Thus, what you are observing in the Petworth artichokes is a LACK OF DEMAND. If there was a high level of demand for artichokes, they would turn over quickly, thus you would have fresh new artichokes in that stores.

      Same thing with expired merchandise. I have noticed a lot of merchandise in the Yes! organic market is expired. This is entirely a symptom of lack of demand. On the other hand, the artichokes at Whole Foods on P are generally fresh. This is because lots of Whole Foods shoppers are buying artichokes. Lack of demand is why we don’t have better grocery options in that area. I can absolutely guarantee you that Safeway is not shipping different grades of artichokes to different stores or moving them to Petworth when they dry out – it happens too quickly, and I have worked in the grocery business and know how they do business. They are not logistically equipped to discriminate by moving older goods around in that way.

      But by all means, blame it on “racism”.


      • But what about the mint sauce?

        • have you asked the store to stock better mint sauce and promised to buy it?
          if you have, do it again.

          talk to the people that work there and ask them how to go about getting the products you want.

          they WANT to sell you stuff.

      • Thanks, I will. I’m from Oakland, California and I know gastronomic pigeonholing when I see it. P.S. The 17th Street “Soviet” Safeway usually has pretty good artichokes.

  • Why not go to the Safeway on Piney Branch? Or Giant? Or Teeter?

  • There used to be a Safeway, a Giant, and a Grand Union all on the same side of Columbia Road. Grand Union closed and became the Blockbuster store there now. Then after the Giant closed, the Columbia Road Safeway went down hill for many years. When the Harris Teeter opened up less than two years ago, the Columbia Road Safeway cleaned up their act.

    There are many Safeways in Maryland that still look much like the Petworth Safeway pictured above.

    Certainly it would be nice for the Petworth Safeway supermarket to be upgraded, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that this is a private sector business on private property.

    The city Mayor and the city Council have little or no authority over this private enterprise’s expansions or improvement.

    We continue to expect much too much of our lives from our elected officials, and demand far, far too much of our ever growing public sector.

    If we continue to blur the clear distinction between the public sector and private sector the way many of us do these days, our diminishing private sector, which by the way provides for everything, will cease to exist over time, and we will all be have nots as all our supermarkets become food scarce Soviet Safeways.

    The private sector is where our prosperity comes from.

    • Tired teabagger cliches. I can, and will, expect plenty of my government. It’s mine, after all. Don’t like it? Go back to Oklahoma. I’m not saying that the government can force Safeway to upgrade, but they can, and should, use the powers at their disposal to help this community improve.

      And so should Safeway.

      In this case, what I want is for this corporation to do right by its customers and community. The company seems to have decided that, because it is the only game in town, Petworth and the surrounding community don’t deserve anything better than the same pathetic selection and run-down facility they have had for years. I would love to see a free-market solution here: build a Trader Joe’s on the spot where Bruce-Monroe used to stand and Safeway could finally be overtaken by rats once and for all. But until that happens, somebody needs to poke a finger in the eye of this sleeping ogre.

      In the meantime, I don’t shop at this, or any, Safeway. I go the extra distance to the Giant in Columbia Heights. It’s nicer, cheaper, and smells better.

      • So this is the “only game in town” but you go to Giant in Columbia Heights? How can you do that since the Safeway is the “only game in town”? I’m not being facetitious – I’m wondering how you reconcile these contradictions.

        I’m seriously trying to understand the desire to have the government take action on this store – what exactly they should do, and what specifically people want to change. From what I can gather, people want it to smell better, want a wider selection of mint jelly, fresher artichokes, and more cheese. Sounds like Yes! Organic to me. What am I missing?

      • Telling people to go back to “X” totally undermines your argument regardless of what you’re arguing for.

        It just makes you a bigot.

      • So you would love to see a “free market solution” but you’ll settle for having the government throw some tax deal Safeway’s direction to get a nicer store that saves you taking the bus a few blocks under the guise of “do[ing] right by the community”?

        Nice try.

    • Could not agree more. If Safeway wants to upgrade the store they will. And by “wants to” I mean deems it profitable. This is not racism, this is economics. We don’t need another congressional commmission or grocery czar.

    • anon is absolutely right. i don’t think safeway “owes” anything to the community. if people continue to shop there enough to put it in the black, why should they change?

      the community owes it to safeway to stop spending their money there if they don’t approve. i personally don’t go there for anything other than last minute emergency needs, and certainly never needed aything other than the express lane. i’ll drive to giant or harris teeter for the big shopping trips, or hit yes! for vegetables, wine, beer, cheese, specialty items.

      all that said, the city council could certainly help out by giving a cherry deal to a competing grocery store (like they did with park place’s 10 year no-tax deal) and expedited zoning, permits, etc. but that would assume that there is space to move into and an interested store to move in.

  • It’s definitely time for an upgrade at the Georgia Ave. Safeway. I’m looking forward to the new CVS opening so I don’t have to deal with Safeway’s incompetent pharmacy any longer.

  • Just out of curiosity, has anyone checked the prices at the GA ave safeway as compared to the Wisconsin one? I used to have it in my head, when I lived 1/2 way between that safeway and the O Street Giant that the Safeway was significantly cheaper, but I never really backed that up with any kind of facts. Any thoughts?

    It doesn’t change the fact that they probably need to upgrade, but will the upgrade mean more expensive groceries for the neighborhood?

  • The median family income in Georgetown is probably three times as much as the median family income in petworth.

    The property rates in Georgetown are atleast 8-10 times more than Petworth.

    Petworth is like a third world country compared to Georgetown, obviously things will be not as good as georgetown there, though things are slowly changing.

    If you really want a nicer safeway maybe you should move to a nicer area and be prepared to pay higher rents. You want the ammenities of a nicer area and pay a fraction of the rent.

    • what a douche

    • oh yes because clearly all of us who don’t live in georgetown CHOOSE not to. oh yeah, i’m really rich but just enjoy slumming it. let me break my lease and move on up over there, because i CHOOSE to pay less rent. i wouldn’t consider a grocery store an “ammenity”. Tell that to all the people that live across the Anacostia river, who don’t even HAVE grocery stores in many areas: “maybe you should move to a nicer area and be prepared to pay higher rents.” WOW.

      • to be fair, i’d say that a *fancy* grocery store is an “amenity.” and i think that’s what people are really looking for here.

        no, the safeway doesn’t have organic meats or vegetables. and while i generally eat organic as much as possible, i would call that a luxury or an “amenity.” and that luxury is provided by Yes! 2 blocks north.

        the argument for the folks in parts of SE is a completely separate argument. i’m sure they’d be happy to have our safeway vs. nothing.

  • Whats next. You want a Tiffany store in Petworth because Chevy Chase has one?

    • Prince Of Petworth

      Allow me to retype from above, however this time I will type it much slower for you so you can follow along:

      “I understand that Georgetown residents have a lot of money to spend so obviously they are going to get a nice store but Petworth residents were told time and time again that this relic on Georgia Ave was going to be upgraded. Whenever I ask Mayor Fenty or Council Member Bowser they say, plans are still in the works. But Lord – how long must we wait. Quite frankly I just don’t like all the bullshit. If they’re not going to upgrade the Georgia Ave Safeway then just say so. Be honest with us, we can take it.”

      • Iraq had WMDs too.. did we ever find them?

        Politicians will say whatever they want to get you to vote for them.

        At the end its a business decision. Just because Petworth residents are demanding a new safeway wont get them a new safeway.

        Maybe if Petworth residents actually made more money as the residents of georgetown and could lobby for a newer safeway things might have been different.

        Money is the bottom line. Safeway can go the whole nine yards and have a nice cheese isle and a nice wine isle but in the end, the Petworth residents wont really have the need nor the money to buy those items. It would just be a bad business decicion for them. Atleast for now. As I said, things are changing, but its going to be a while when Petworth actually comes to anything even as close to Columbia Heights, leave alone Georgetown. I am all for development, but there wouldnt be too many people to appreciate something like the georgetown safeway in petworth.

        And I am typing slowly here too. If it was not the case that Petworth residents had something to do with the Georgetown Safeway. The poster would not have done a comparison and would have just said – How long do we wait and dont lie to us.


      • Why are you lobbying Fenty and Bowser when you could be lobbying, I dunno, someone from Safeway? It’s not like Fenty can wave a wand and say, “New Safeway, now!”

    • You want to equate a decent grocery store with a Tiffany’s??

  • The cost of the real estate in Georgetown vs Petworth isn’t relevant. They aren’t investing in capital improvements that could transfer to a new owner, and they aren’t improving the land.

    Let’s be honest here. It’s redlining pure and simple. I think a smart lawyer could look at the pattern of Safeway’s upgrades (and where they choose to close stores) and make a pretty good civil rights lawsuit. Maybe that would get their attention.

  • We live 2 blocks away and do 90% of our shopping at Teeter in Adams Morgan. If we had a great Safeway we would be there everytime.

  • Once the CVS opens up, that should be enough between that and the Yes to approximate what you would get from one full service grocery store (although still really lacking a deli). I, for one, am going to make it a point to not patronize the safeway. The population density is growing around the petworth metro, and hopefully Safeway eventually realizes that they are missing out on a lot of new business by sustaining that shit-smelling store as-is.

    • Just stop shopping there; it will be more effective. I can’t imagine that safeway is going to build out all their stores in one region simulataneously. You have to maintain regional income from all stores to support the costs of the loss of income from the store and the construction cost.

      And why would you want safeway to do anything? They have a history of really not giving 2 —- about their DC stores from their management down to the guy packing the meat. Switch your brand loyalty.

      Also I love to hear people getting out their pitchforks and torches over things like this. Who are you kidding? You’re going to reelect the same politicians that put DC in the position it is today that forced all the wealth to the suburbs.

      • Its nice for the people who have means to stop shopping there, but there is an entire client base, probably enough to justify NOT upgrading, that dont have the means to travel for their groceries.

        If political leaders don’t get involved, Safeway will only be motivated by their bottom line. They can make a certain profit by not upgrading, they can only make speculative profits off of an upgrade.

        The free market argument doesnt work because there’s a captive consumer base.

        “If you think free markets never work, you need to take an economics class. If you think free markets always work, you need to take another economics class.” — Yoram Bauman

        Its the same issue as slum lords. As long as slum lords can rent out their shit holes in the current state they have no reason to fix anything. Due to the demand curve of rentable properties (and also food), especially among low-income communities, there will always be consumers at a low enough price no matter the conditions.

        The DC Government could get involved by strictly enforcing health codes or, alternatively, offer tax incentives for competition to move it. A less acceptable route would be to offer special tax rules for Safeway to make upgrades.

        All of these glenn beckian remarks about czars and government takeovers… its just ridiculous. There’s a special place back in Mississippi for you to crawl, I suggest you go there.

        • The DC government already offered incentives for Yes! to move in. How many subsidized grocery stores should be built on lower Georgia Avenue?

          Which health codes are being broken?

          If the DC government offered Safeway some sort of economic incentives, what, specifically, would you want Safeway to change?

          • Comment #1 talked about expired meat. Thats not legal. Also, judging by what I know of most of the other low budget grocery stores in the city, there will be plenty of violations if there was strict enforcement.

          • Also, YES! isn’t an acceptable alternative to a full service grocery store. Its neither affordable nor a one stop shop, unless you live a certain (high priced) lifestyle.

          • Ok, once again, if Yes! isn’t acceptable, what exactly are you looking for the Safeway to change? Artichokes? Mint Jelly? Funny smells?

        • Captive base? We have an amazing transportation system in this city. This isn’t the hills of West Virginia…it’s not even some suburban outpost. Metro is amazingly cheap.

          I grew up in this city thank you very much.

          I like how anyone who disagrees with you is a “glen beck”.

          You’re an idiot. Plane and simple.

          • Calling one an idiot “plane and simple” screams of irony. Besides, making ad hominem attacks is the lowest form of discourse. Thats ok though.

            Do you think its reasonable to take the metro or bus to get groceries? In order to get enough for a family of four (or 1 or 2) for a week, you’d either need to take multiple trips during that week week or have multiple people go with you… just to lug enough bags home on public transit. How often do you take the bus to the grocery store?

            That hardly works.

            As for Glenn Beck.. stop parroting his arguments. Your classism is abhorent.

          • The thread is empty, but to answer Riight’s response.

            Do I think it’s reasonable to take the bus to get groceries: Yes.

            Again, calling someone Glenn Beck is kind of ignorant. If you can’t argue on the issues, then name calling sure feels good.

      • Again Ragged Dog, you’re off the wall.

        “all the wealth to the suburbs”? You’re reusing mid 90’s talking points. Have you been holed up at Heritage Foundation for so long you forgot to look around?

        • Look around at what?

          • look around at the house being sold a BLOCK from that safeway for $640k.


          • Well then come live over with me and the rest of the undesirables in Northeast. There are 3 grocery stores within an 10 block radius and my neighbor bought her *house* for $325k, 3 months ago.

            If you’re arguing that DC is getting expensive to live in, I agree. If you’re arguing that the safeway should be better, I agree. If you’re arguing that the DC council should solve this problem when it’s such an easy problem for an organized neighborhood boycott should solve, then I disagree.

            But then you have to get off your butt and talk to people instead of sitting on your couch making calls and sending emails.

  • Try going to the affordable, fresh Yes! Organic Market in Petworth (GA and Taylor, I think) just a few blocks away. No need to schlep to the Teets in AdMo, which is a fine sto too.

    • a lot of the store is far from affordable. Prices on things such as chicken are good, but a lot of people in the neighborhood aren’t able to spend $4.50 on a half gallon of milk.

    • Yes? Affordable? On what planet? $7 is their lowest price for a gallon of milk. And they have no blueberry muffins in the whole store.

  • People, it’s at least related racism because:

    – research shows that parents’ income / socio economic status matters in determining next generations’ income / ses in this country A LOT compared to other countries
    – in case you didn’t know, black people have been blatantly discriminated against for YEARS in this country (and this is true even if you want to argue that it doesn’t happen any more)

    So yes, the fact that neighborhoods that have a lot of black residents are sometimes poor IS related to racism.

    As far as Safeway – yes, it smells, like either mothballs or babywipes, but I don’t know why an expensive upgrade is required to deal with that.

    I suspect people don’t go elsewhere because they don’t have cars, and seriously, $30-$50 for a granny cart so you can go to Giant a mile away does seem like an indulgence, for me at least, and I just finished grad school.

    • blester01


      I don’t want to get into a racism argument, but I don’t think you can just blatantly say this is racism. That is just way too easy of an explanation. The historical black neighborhoods were very nice before segregation ended. They had great public amenities b/c you had a higher socio-economic status with doctors, lawyers and other professions living in the neighborhoods until desegregation. It is a matter of socio-economic status. If you go to poor/ blighted areas throughout the country regardless of color, culture, etc., guess what, their grocery stores suck too. Rule of thumb, if you are poor and have a lower level of education, you don’t have a lot of good options available.

      Yes, historically there is a very strong and sad pattern of racism around the world. But there was also a pattern of people hating the Irish, Asians, Jews, etc. Basically people have an issue with others if you are not in “my group”. Generally, people are just afraid of our differences, which is very retarded in my book.

      Regarding Safeway, it has everything to do with developers feeling that they may not get a good return on their investment. The city needs to be involved in this process (without needing a grocery czar) to be able to present to Safeway & developers the fact that they have long term plans to redevelop the area, and are not going to cut and run at the first hint of economic trouble. Fenty has done an excellent job of this for us. Look at Potomac Ave metro stop, the city has been pushing development down there for years, and they now have a Harris Teater and a very nice Safeway. It is only a matter of time now that economy is bouncing back and we are one of the areas most desired neighborhoods.

    • Yes “Racism”, but DC has been led by black Democratic politicians for almost all of the 30 years I’ve been around. This safeway has 100% black employees as far as I’ve seen. If you’re expecting a political fix to this problem, why hasn’t one of the Democrat politicians fixed this obvious civil rights “problem”?

      How can folks complain about racism and expect politicians to fix the problem, when it’s a black dominated government in the city? That’s like saying Black Politicians are racist against black people.

      Do I believe there’s racism in America? Yes. But yelling racism every time someone doesn’t get what they want without first looking for fundamental economics is ignorant.

      The race to the bottom –economically, –politically –whatever, really only produces a crappy world.

  • Yeah, I just moved away from Park View, and my roommate and I only went to the Safeway a few times – we hated that place. I’d go to Giant, Harris Teeter and occasionally Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s instead.

    • That said, I am able bodied and have both a steady income and a bike. A lot of Park View residents don’t have the luxury of having all of those things, so I think the Safeway will unfortunately still be able to rest on its laurels for the time being.

  • I can’t believe how people think the City has some sort of obligation to fix the crappy Safeway on GA Ave. There was a time (not too long ago) when there were 2 crumby grocery store choices in DC – Giant & Safeway. In the last 5-10 years we now have tons more.

    I live 6 block away from this Safeway and have decided to just go to Harris Teeter, or Trader Joe’s or even the Park rd. Giant because they are better.

    But more importantly, I’ll be damned if the City spends money on subsidizing a safeway when the City is cutting back programs that fight gangs,reduce street cleaning, libraries, social servces, etc.

    You don’t have to be Glen Beck or live in Oklahoma to think government shouldn’t be subsidizing private corporations like sleazy Safeway…

    • Yes. When I was growing up here there were WAY fewer options. The city has other things to worry about in an area that does, in fact, have a grocery store.

  • Anonymous:8:42 AM

    Agreed not everyone can trek to other grocery stores, and agreed thatit doesn’t take a whole scale remodeling of the store to deal with basic hygiene issues.

    This is where Feny and Bowser can come in by FORCING DCRA and DC Public Health Dept to enforce the health laws etc.

    But we also gotta face it – if Safeway feels the customers on average in Parkview/Petworth don’t have the $, they are not going to invest in fixing the place up. I doubt it’s racism, cause they only care about one color – Green… The fastest way for them to make a change is to have the negihborhood gentrify so they loose their older, poor customers and realize they’re loosing the yuppies to Harris Teeters & Yes Organic!

  • It’s called supply and demand. If the Petworth neighborhood demands 500 cheeses and a gourmet meat stand then they’ll eventually get it. All things are not equal in love and grocery shopping.

  • we need just a few more dubbas to keep up the complaints and it will happen before too long. Just use Yes! Organic or another grocery store in the meantime. And yes, the odor in that Safeway is morgue like.

  • This quite possibly is the dumbest thread ever.

      • Read above and read below. Only in this crackpot city will people get into politics over a grocery store.

        I’ve got better things to do now…think I’m gonna go rub one out on the metro.

        • everywhere i’ve lived i’ve seen politics over grocery stores. have you lived many places as an adult and been involved in the political discussions? its everywhere.

  • BTW I type slowly all the time.

  • Dan aka POP – Great to see you addressing “A PINK ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM” issue in Petworth for a change.

    This is classic RED LINING by SAFEWAY… they have a track record of building or leasing stores and not maintaining them nor doing andy capital improvements. If the Petworth SAFEWAY was a leased store (like the closed store in Rhode Island Ave) it would have been closed and abandoned many moons ago. Thats just how SAFEWAY does business in communities in which they feel have limited economic value to them.

    Now what’s different with the SAFEWAY store in Petworth, is that SAFEWAY owns the property in which the store sites… I believe, FREE and CLEAR of any incumbencies. So in essence the store is profitable for SAFEWAY, so closing and walking away just does not make since to do bussiness wise.

    So, I personally have exchanged emails with Craig Muckle from SAFEWAY ([email protected]), David Jannarone (Formally of the DMPED), Derrick Woody from DMPED/EOM ([email protected]), and Valerie Santos the DMPED ([email protected]); spoken with the Ward 4 Council Member; and tried to chat-up current Mayor regarding the status of the SAFEWAY and all have been very non committal and vague regarding the issue that are keeping this SAFEWAY from being rebuilt. What I have been able to piece together in my own mind is the following:


    2) SAFEWAY is requesting a larger than normal amount of TIFF funds to rebuild this store. The amount is so large that it will completely cover the cost of rebuilding the SAFEWAY store in Petworth.

    3) The DMPED office is only willing to support this TIFF request, if SAFEWAY build not only a new store but includes a density component (i.e.. apartment or condos) to the new store due to its proximity to the Petworth Metro Station. But as the housing market is depressed, get financing for a mixed use project is difficult.

    Possible solutions (not ranked in any order or based on my personal preference)

    1) The city uses eminent domain to take control of the land and develop it via RFP…. (Yes, they can do this per Kelo v. City of New London ( but DC only does this for Baseball Stadiums)
    2) The city and SAFEWAY reach a agreement on TIFF funds and density.
    3) The city gives SAFEWAY the full amount of TIF funds requested.
    4) Safeway finds a develpment partner and builds what the city is requesting.

    Jeff on 8th…

    • I agree that the residents of our community need to speak up and make it clear that the status quo at Safeway is unacceptable.

      I just sent an email to Safeway – others should do the same:

    • blester01


      Great post. Thanks for the info. I think it is only a matter of time before we see plans for the new Safeway since the credit crunch is over and the area is improving at a fast rate.

      I think another option that you didn’t include is that Safeway can sell and then lease back the property. Maintaining a property is very expensive.

    • Hi Jeff. I’ve been to several meetings and have seen Craig Muckle in action…in my opinion Safeway is the worst kind of corporate partner for the city. They demand a lot in tax breaks and assistance and give very weak performance. Does Safeway actually own that land? If not the city should put out an RFP as you suggest and let there be some competition from Giant, Harris Teeter, or whoever wants to put in a bid. My first choice would be for Safeway to leave Georgia Ave for good as I think almost any of the other competitors would run a better grocery store.

  • Safeway, PLEASE upgrade the Ga Ave location!! People are here, willing to spend money on many types of cheeses. The demand for such a thing in this area is growing by leaps and bounds.

    • Can’t resist; just a little humor:

      No, it’s not about money. It’s all about the big cheese.

      Comment voulez-vous gouverner un pays qui a deux cent quarante-six variétés de fromage? -CD, 1962.

      Allow me to type it much slower for you so you can follow along:

      How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese ?

    • Wasn’t the demand for more cheeses just met by the Yes! organic market? Do you really want Safeway filling this demand? If so, why? What is so magic about that specific building/block that makes people so eager to consider radical moves like handing Safeway tax dollars to improve their store (crazy) or condemning it with eminent domain (crazier)!? Seriously?

      The solution to a business you don’t like is to never set foot in it. Eventually, if enough of your neighbors agree, it will go out of business. Doesn’t matter if Safeway owns the land or leases it.

      This is incredibly basic economics. By the logic here much of Georgia Avenue should be condemned by eminent domain and redeveloped by the city. Would you really want that? Given the history of cronyism that accompanies government involvement in development here?

      Astonishing thread.

      • saf

        The fact is, Safeway sucks, and this store is just a symptom of the entire corporation’s attitude. Yes, they need to make money, but they don’t need to screw their customers to do it.

        Eric’s right. I boycott Safeway – all Safeways – and encourage others to realize that no matter what they do here, it will still be a Safeway. What we need is a grocery store that has some respect for its customers and neighbors.

  • Yes Organic Market is the best thing to happen to Petworth in a long time. I’m happy with nearly all of their product and really only turn to the UnSafeway if I need soda, or something really specific (had a craving for Entemann’s chocolate chip cookies on Saturday — mmmmmmm). I would never buy meat there though. It doesn’t look very sanitary.

    Next on the tier is the CH Giant, which is really good.

  • Agree with all who say it’s entirely up to Safeway to decide when they want to upgrade their Georgia Ave store. This is not an issue for the DC government.

    That said, I kinda like the place as it it. It looks like a store the Brady Bunch might go shopping in. Retro chic.

    • Well done, Eric.

      Thanks, I just did, too.

      Now that’s being constructive, results oriented !

      (instead of all the whining and demanding.)

  • Really rather unbelievable comments in this thread. Wow.

  • Dan aka POP – I know this may be outside of your area of comfort but why don’t you ask SAFEWAY, the DMPED, the Council Member, and the Mayor for a public statement on the status of Petworth SAFEWAY.

    I have tried and gotten no response, maybe a open public request will get a response from them.

    The community should send email to the following:

    Craig Muckle from SAFEWAY ([email protected])
    Derrick Woody from DMPED/EOM ([email protected])
    Valerie Santos the DMPED ([email protected])

    Jeff on 8th…

  • Sure you can forice DCRA to enforce health laws, but DCRA or the health department hasn’t been enforcing health laws for 30 years, why would they start now?

    If the employees or management cared, there would be a better store. You can serve fresh food out of a wagon attached to a horse. The employees and management at this store don’t care.

    Switch your loyalty.

    • What specific health laws are being broken there? If someone could start documenting them publically you could probably put enough pressure on DCRA to take action.

      Of course ultimately the action might be for Safeway to decide to just give up and shutter the store. Would that be a better outcome? Would your neighbors who aren’t blogging on this subject prefer the store be closed?

      • I don’t know that any laws are being broken here, but someone earlier mentioned having DCRA come out with health inspectors.

        My point is that if the food isn’t up to quality, complain to the store manager or boycott the store.

        You could close down any number of restaurants and grocery stores in the city with a strict interpretation of health code laws.

      • saf

        Yes, that would be a much better outcome. Safeway is a bad store and a worse neighbor. I’d rather see that lot empty that have them there.

        • Then the quickest way is to organize and boycott the store. Going the pressure/political route is expensive and time consuming. Talk to your neighbors and organize a boycott. If this really is a big issue, the store will be closed in 6 months. If people would rather shop at a mediocre store than no store at all, then you’ll know it quickly.

          Then we can have the inevitable discussion about all the middle class jobs safeway is cutting in the city.

          • saf

            That’s been done before. And yes, most people would rather whine, but continue to shop there, than to inconvenience themselves.

      • I vehemently pursued health inspections for the Piney Branch Safeway for a while. FYI its done via the DC DOH Food Safety and Hygiene Inspection Services Division (FSHISD), not DCRA. I specifically complained about rotten milk, spoiled cheese, moldy bread, and obvious mice in the cereal aisle. FSHISD responded with inspections which Safeway paid the fines for and then ignored. This went on for two rounds and then I gave up. Closing Safeway would be an enormous inconvenience for everyone involved and they found it cheaper to just pay fines than do much about the underlying issues. I generally shop in MD now.

  • Tell Safeway how you feel:

    It’s been my experience in the past that they actually usually respond.

  • Hopefully the Petworth Safeway gets upgraded at some point, because I’ve been shopping at the brand new one on Wisconsin Avenue, and it’s pretty amazing. Friendly, helpful staff and amazing selection.

  • On a less serious note: does anyone know what causes the smell in the store? I’m not trying to be sarcastic; I really can’t figure out what exactly the smell is.

    • Not sure, but the smell seems to be worse near the entrance (or maybe I just get used to it as I spend more time in the store).

  • They could carry truffles and some residents still wouldn’t be caught dead shopping amongst the “commoners”.

  • Did the redevelopment plan fall through??

    Last time I checked, this store is curretly proposed for smart growth redevelopment to replace the suburban building with a new mixed use building. Safeway on the ground floor and housing up top. I’m guessing the development is currently on hold due to market conditions.

  • Thanks for the expose POP! This may not be a case of blatant racism, but its a definite case of redlining. The petworth area has largely been overlooked for many years by companies using the excuse that the investment would not return profits, when that excuse is farthest from the truth. I have done all of my shopping in the past 14 years I’ve lived in the area in Silver Spring or Virginia because of the horrible state of the GA ave Safeway.

    That horrible odor actually has been around for as long as I’ve known that shop, the selection of food there is horrible as well and it pretty much always has been. The fact that Safeway has done nothing to solve the problem is what constitutes the offense, and then considering the socio-economic makeup of how petworth has been, it makes the offense more significant. Now that Petworth is becoming gentrified, things are guaranteed to change, but for the 14 years I’ve lived in the area pretty much all chain stores have neglected the area for no good reason. Just shady corner stores that charge high prices for aged goods. We had no 7-11 or CVS, or even a decent hardware store. Our money was all sent to other regions like Georgetown to make them look better.

    In summary, I think there used to be a dog guarding the store because it used to smell like dog poop years ago, and I think the dog died somewhere where no one found it and the remaining smell is dead dog. I hope they do more than just fixing the smell, and invest in Petworth for a change!

    • saf

      “Now that Petworth is becoming gentrified, things are guaranteed to change”

      Do you really think that? We thought they would clean up when the metro opened. Nope.

      Also, you’ve got the dog story wrong. The dog never lived in the store. She lived in the alley (thrown out of her apartment when her person died, she wouldn’t go home with anyone else, as she was waiting for her person. After a number of years, she was attacked by a fighting dog, and despite being taken to the vet by a concerned neighbor, died.)

    • By the way, here are some FACTS about Safeway’s business.

      Last year they had an overall net loss of $1,097,500,000, although they have a small operating margin (2.8%) that was nonetheless down even further in the first quarter of 2010 (

      They currently hold $8,721,800,000 in long term debt.

      This is not a strong competitor. They undoubtedly have very limited access to capital given these results and are going to invest that capital in the most promising markets.

      Apparently there is still a market for a low-end grocery in Petworth, otherwise no doubt they would close that store to sell the property and reduce their losses. The fact that they haven’t probably means that they are making an operating margin on their business there, despite the funny odor, lack of name-brand mint jelly, and dearth of fresh artichokes.

      This has nothing to do with “racism.” The current economic situation and level of poverty in Petworth undoubtedly has a lot to do with the history of racism in this country and region, but the way Safeway is operating that store is pure business, not “redlining” or any other ridiculous accusation.

      The city could step in to give them some money, but is this really the company you want our tax dollars flowing to? Seriously?

      • Yes. I want a new soccer stadium, a nice Safeway in Petworth just like the new one in Georgetown, and an Arby’s on the corner down my block.

  • Many of the comments above are over the top. Grocers are private companies which do not have an unlimited ability to raise capital for new stores. The quality of a grocery isn’t solely a function of the neighborhood’s socioeconomic status. Yesterday we were out shopping in the ‘burbs in tony Bethesda. We visited the Safeway in the main Bethesda shopping district — awful, notwithstanding that there is a large, modern Giant four blocks away. By the same token, while Giant’s Columbia Heights outlet has justifiably garnered good reviews in the comments above, its outlet in the more upscale environs of Wisconsin & Newark is an outdated mess.

    • Giant has been trying to update that store for years, but the neighbors don’t want it.

      (There’s an idea — everybody from Petworth, move over to Mclean Gardens and vice versa…two grocery store renovation disputes solved at once! I should run for mayor.)

  • The Petworth Safeway simply doesn’t need to upgrade. They have a captive audience of probably 20,000 people at least who cannot go anywhere but there. Add in WIC and other federal subsidies and you have an awesome business plan with literally guaranteed money. Why put more money into the store if it won’t change your bottom line much?

    And remember, those of us up Georgia Ave in Ward 4 envy all the development of Petworth. I got a crappy Safeway and tons of empty lots, I want me some of what Petworth got via government tax increment financing deals and such.

    • move to petworth? 🙂

      • And further support a corrupt and bigoted establishment? No way, I am out of DC come July 15, for ever, after 20 years of frustration.

        • but somehow you want the money that the corrupt establishment secures for businesses that serve its constituents? c’mon now, you can’t have it both ways.

          • I don’t think I am saying that, I am saying if I don’t like it I can move, which I am. I admit I called health inspectors on my local safeway as I feared botulism and the plague and such, but I think that’s justified even for a relatively libertarian guy like myself. I was, after all, only thinking of the children 😉

  • Also, interesting tidbit, did you know in the DC riots of 1968 about five Safeways were burned to the ground but Giants were not touched? This was because the owner of the Giants stores was a Jewish guy sympathetic to the black community who made it a point to hire out of that community, whereas Safeway did not. So, Pride Inc., Marion Barry’s first employment project, sent guys to protect the Giant stores during the riots.

    (reading the stellar book “Dream City” these days)

    • saf

      Giant was locally owned in those days, and was a much better store – first major investment in Shaw after the riots was the new (8th and O) Giant.

      Safeway is based out of California.

    • Marion Barry wasn’t D.C. Mayor in 1968.

      (There was no city council either back then.)

      Walter E. Washington was our mostly ceremonial D.C. Mayor back then appointed by President Johnson.

      • Marion Barry was a civil rights activist in DC long before he was a mayor.

        • Yes he was, but there was a better quality of life here in our nation’s capital for all DC residents in terms of civility, lack of crime, and yes variety and cleanliness of retail, before we started electing all our local activists to govern us here.

          From the District Building, the system of three Presidential appointed Commissioners worked very well here for generations of all us Washingtonians prior.

          Wish we’d give that a try again, but there are too few alive to remember, or old enough that read this blog.

  • saf

    “who cannot go anywhere but there”

    Why not? Seriously, why not? It’s not that hard to go to other grocery stores.

    • Have no car and 4 kids and test your theory.

      • Where in the world does it get *better* than DC? It might be cheaper to live in the burbs and then get a car, but if you live in the burbs without a car, you have the same problem and farther to walk.

    • Thus speaks someone who probably has no kids and does have wheels. I sometimes stop at Trader Joe’s on my way home and then take the bus, but I’m shopping for only two people and so I can easily carry a bag or two. If I’m working a job until 9 at night, standing on my feet all day, where am I going to have the energy to lug a gallon of milk, boxes of cereal and all the other things kids need onto a bus and then home?

  • If the Safeway smells bad and doesn’t rotate expired/dried-out items off its shelves….it’s because the Petworth Safeway employees are bad at their jobs. This has nothing to do with demand, government bailouts, “racism,” or entitlement.

    The first rule of running a grocery store is “attended to your stocking” by making sure the shelves are full, rotating new merchandise to the back of the shelves, and throwing away anything that has expired. The second rule is clean your damn store. If it smells like something’s rotting, it’s likely because something IS rotting.

    All I’m getting out of this post is that the Georgetown Safeway has better management, who hold their employees to a higher standard. As a result, the Georgetown Safeway is attracting more business that will PAY FOR its renovation, whereas the Petworth Safeway is so poorly staffed that people will go out of their way (to Adams Morgan) just to avoid using it.

    Blaming Fenty, Safeway Corporate HQ, or racism are all really, really stupid things to do. Blame the management and staff of the Petworth Safeway for sucking at their jobs and driving business away.

  • I sent them an email asking what I think is the key question: if it is a given that the demographics of Petworth do not support the pipedream of a Georgetown-quality store (no matter how much some of us would like to shop at such a place), does it necessarily follow that the store must be smelly and the stock more-than-occasionally past a saleable date?

    I don’t necessarily expect any sort of response, but I thought I would throw it out there. Because really, folks, that place is just plain gross.

    • +1

      Some people seem to embrace a false dichotomy: a grocery store will either be Georgetown-quality or it will be foul smelling and nasty. Why can’t we have something in the middle?

  • PoP – don’t you have some surveyr capability? How about collecting some data. Potentail questions:

    How often do you shop at the Petworth Safeway:
    A. Always
    B. Sometimes
    C. Never

    If sometimes or never, why?
    A. Lack of merchandice
    B. Hygene
    C. Atmosphere
    D. Lack of Service

    If Always, why?
    A. Convience
    B. Divserity of merchandice
    C. Good Service
    D. Atmosphere

    Zip Code of Residence

  • BOYCOTT Safeway!!! Don’t go begging the City to hand over millions of Dollars to a scumbag corporation like Safeway!

    For those who lament our neighbors who can’t go anywhere else, then there’s all the MORE reason to not shop here. That’s what they’re counting on. Do your best never to shop at Safeway until they reform – ON THEIR OWN CENT! that way you’re voting with your feet even if some only granny neighbors can’t.

    Side note: Corporate republicans are obviously trolling PoP – how else can we explain poster’s desire to give $$$$$ to an evil corporation when the City is cutting back human services????

  • I’m not really a fan of the 16th St Hts. Safeway, it seems like there aren’t that many things there. Things you really want are often gone. And the place doesn’t seem super clean. Plus it’s got an odd, off atmosphere – kind of dimly/strangely lit, dated, with aisles not that well marked. I don’t remember any smell, I guess others do.

    But I wasn’t that bothered or worried. It’s a store, not a house I want to buy or a restaurant I want to try.

    But we went to Georgetown (flea market was weak last Sunday!) And I saw the Georgetown Social Safeway redevelopment for the first time… Holy Cow! That thing is like some kind of massive anchor tenant for a major commercial development. The thing is so big they’re opening storefronts inside the Safeway development for OTHER megastores. I had no idea they were doing anything more than a facelift!

    If people spent that kind of money in my neighborhood the gentrifiers would be wailing that the place was “over” and doomed to be captured by the dreaded “families with children.”

    Which I guess is PoP’s point.

    In 16th St Hts right now we have a store. What Georgetown has now has is a dynamic commercial magnet.

    Which neighborhood would benefit most from having such a place?
    You decide.

  • the new Safeway in Southwest is not in the Navy Yard. If you were to call it something other than “Southwest”, something like “SW Waterfront” might be the best descriptor.

  • Most of the comments here reflect little or no understanding of the grocery business. Fundamentally, the starting point is that grocery stores are one of the lowest margin businesses around. All the cereal, soda, bread, cake mixes, and chips that fill up the “center store” aisles might have a 2-3% profit margin for the store, and stores that sell primarily that stuff aren’t growing. The only growth area (at least as of a 2-3 years ago) in the grocery business is the high-end/organics/prepared foods [think Whole Foods] segment; this is where every big chain wants to expand. It’s also very expensive to do a full makeover of a store — a big capital improvement like what happened in Georgetown is a couple million bucks.

    From those three points, you can do the math: if a store isn’t likely to have high demand for the organics/natural foods/prepared foods that will bring in more money and help it grow, it’s not likely to be a top candidate for improvements. I have no idea what the true demographics around this store are, but I can guarantee you that the people in Safeway’s site management division surely have very detailed numbers about that. So yes, in some ways it is about fancy cheeses, and whether the people who are likely to shop at this store are likely to buy them. My guess is that they aren’t. In some ways, you could argue that the Yes! actually is part of this — Safeway certainly knows it’s got serious local competition for those products just a few blocks away. Eventually, this place will be re-done, but I wouldn’t expect the Georgetown treatment when that happens — the stores will be designed to serve sufficiently different customer bases that they will be sufficiently different.

  • I worked in a grocery store for years as a kid. All the complaints I’m seeing from the commenters are completely misguided. And, if you want a Georgetown-style Safeway, then the solutions proposed probably won’t work.

    I’ll bet you a crate of fresh artichokes that Safeway Corporate HQ doesn’t micromanage the selection, inventory, and sanitation of each store — the General Manager of that store does. The GM at the Petworh Safeway is apparently not placing orders for things that his/her customers want. He/She is obviously doing a bad job of training the store’s employees to take a personal interest in seeing that the stock is rotated properly and that he store is clean.

    If you want an upgraded Safeway, then I agree that you should email Safeway HQ. But rather than accuse HQ of racisim, \red lining,\ or being mean, you should email them to complain about the management at the Petworth store. They would probably dismiss the former as silly, and but treat the latter with at least some concern and put pressure on the store management to clean up their act (and their store).

    Boycotts certainly won’t work, as the lack of business in the first place is probably why HQ doesn’t see any point in investing more $$ into a renovation. Appealing to Fenty won’t work, as Safeway employees aren’t city officials.

  • I’m not even sure the Georgia Avenue Safeway needs to upgrade to the level of a Wisconsin Avenue Safeway. That would be nice, but like others have said, I’m not sure the neighborhood can support it. And I don’t think government intervention is necessary.

    But it could definitely be better than what it is, even in the same footprint and with the same staff. I also choose to vote with my feet, because I can. But it would be nice if those of us who do have options choose to advocate to Safeway on behalf of our neighbors who, because of income or transportation issues, don’t have the same options. We don’t have to say “give us the same store that Georgetown has.” Just a nice, CLEAN-SMELLING place would suffice. That whole Safeway would seem so much better if it didn’t have that gross, unidentifiable odor.

  • I wouldn’t ask anything of the Petworth Safeway other than a good cleanup job to remove the odor. The store does not *owe* the community anything – they are doing what any other company would, and anyone who is claiming racism/conspiracy is deluded.

    I stepped foot in there once in a desperate grab to get a last minute ingredient I couldn’t find at Yes! and was so repulsed by the smell, I turned right around and went without. The Columbia Heights Giant is 0.7 miles away, go there.

    • saf

      “The store does not *owe* the community anything”

      Actually, they do. They owe us compliance to the law and to health codes.

      They don’t clean, inside or out. They have very poor lighting, very poor security, and expired, nasty, food.

      • How do you know they don’t comply with health code? Ever think that its totally lax and BS and doesn’t really mean much? I doubt giant grocery stores are able to hide from inspection – its not some hole in the wall.

        I did not imply that they don’t have to abide by the law – I meant *owe* the community in the form of frill amenties.

  • Please oh please ANYTHING to upgrade that horrible store!

  • Been in Parkview / Columbia Heights for a year now. We ditched that nasty sticking place for the Giant within the first month.

    As for the employee being nice, well that may be but it can’t change the creep store itself. I can go to CH for a nice employee and all the rest of the goods to choice from.

    Beside, the responsbility to upgrade is the owner’s. Once the customers walk away there will be no choice. But strangly that place seems to always have a line. I suspect these are walkers or just bad service.

    Either way, that dump is off my list.

  • Chances are that Safeway rents the space in Georgetown, and that Safeway Owns the building in Petworth. The company has been hurting for years now. Let’s not confuse the issue here, its not only about the Safeway, its about all of the large companies that have redlined the district until now.

    Companies need to have a commitment to maintaining uniform standards among all of their chain stores. If a Maryland resident visited DC and saw that store (not just outside, but inside too) they would be shocked at the state of it. There is an extreme difference in the quality of that store and many of the other stores around it. Citing that, the company should have taken the initiative to update the store long ago. The space is underutilized and the parking is horrible.

    There are so many under-par stores on Georgia avenue along with many vacant buildings where rent and ownership costs much less than in Georgetown. Saying investment isn’t cost effective is rather ignorant because the operating expenses and brand reinforcement would more than make up for the lower sales. The reason why that store’s sales volume is low is easy to see, the state of the stoor scares away business. Let’s also think about Georgia ave and how there’s still no 7-11 or a Dunkin Donuts, Target, and no large chain restaraunts for the entire stretch of it from China Town to Silver Spring. That’s when redlining becomes quite obvious.

    • i’d take it one step further – if a resident of City Vista visited our safeway, they’d be equally shocked. or at least they’d giggle at us. and while close to chinatown, it’s not exactly located in the hottest part of town.

      • in terms of development, it is just about the hottest part of town. look at the price per sq foot. look at the planned development. look at the vast change in recent years.

        and its the closest grocery store to downtown DC.
        so if thats not hot, we dont have hot.

        • i should qualify \hot.\ yes, for developers, it’s hot. meaning for residents, it will be \hot\ in about 2 years.

          my point was that it wasn’t frequented by DC’s highest income/social elite at present, and it’s still a pretty kickass store.

    • I would be shocked if that Safeway rents the space in Georgetown. It was a functioning Safeway during the Kennedy Administration.

    • Fair enough about brand management; it may be one reason why safeway is losing money. They clearly are lacking an effective middle management layer to oversee store quality and may be overstretched to effectively run the number of stores that they operate (they closed the store over on RI ave that was a pit).

      The next level of your argument: that this means that they need to put a bunch of money into redeveloping from the ground up vs. firing the existing regional and store managers and making some staff and cosmetic improvements to the store is where I see too much of a leap.

      There will never be a Target in Georgia Ave; maybe one in Anacostia in the future, but there’s no reason to put one on Georgia.

      Dunkin Donuts are franchises. That means a small business owner is the primary driver of location, not a corporation.

      There’s a brand new CVS at NH and GA.

      There are plenty of Black Owned Small Businesses on Northern Georgia Ave. Why would you want a bunch of chain stores?

      McDonalds is across from Howard on Georgia Ave and, if previous discussions are correct, Howard University owns a vast amount of the real estate on Georgia Ave and has totally mismanaged the development there. So maybe we should be taking Howard University to task.

      • Of course, its important to analyze the facts behind companies and their individual decisions. I fully support that. One could then ask why there are better Safeway super stores in areas just as “economically challenged” as Petworth… Actually, property values and rent in Petworth rival most other areas in Silver Spring etc. Even the older Silver Spring Safeway has an acceptable renovation whereas the one on Ga ave in petworth is and always has been horrid, and has been for as long as I’ve known it. A better environment would breed better business and better customer svc at that Safeway. This also goes for the Wendy’s next door as well.

        As to why there should be chain stores on Ga ave, I think that they allow our money to stay within a community, they allow property values to stabilize, and they make life more convenient. Roads and parking get better also as a result, and overall local prices decrease because of the competition. Other store owners also take the competition as a cue to improve the appearance of their stores, clearly shown by 14th street’s growth in the Logan area. If the mom and pop businesses already on Ga ave could have done that, I’d support them, but they haven’t. Those who have lived here for over 10 years have seen how much good having anchor stores can do for local neighborhoods. Citing 14th street, U street, and Columbia heights before stores began to move in, we can only pray that the same type of investment happens for Ga avenue. There should be no reason to have to leave the city to buy electronics, clothing and groceries (besides the bogus bag tax).

        • I’m not sure every single commercial strip in DC needs to have big box chain restaurants/stores etc. That’s why we put the monstrosity that is the Columbia Heights shopping center on a Metro line….so everyone can get to it without having to put a parking garage and mega mall in every ward in the city.

          H St is doing just fine without national chains.

  • Also, the City Vista safeway is full of rotten produce and expired merchandise.

    • saf

      That’s because they are Safeway.

      And that’s why I say Safeway should be boycotted chain-wide, and when they finally close here, I will be SO happy to see a different store locate here.

    • No it isn’t. Back it up with proof if you’re going to make wild accusations.

  • The old Social Safeway was really run-down and was no doubt suffering from be in close proximity to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Dean & Deluca. Additionally, the design of the store wasn’t in fitting with the neighborhood and didn’t capitalize on the available real estate.
    The lessons for Petworth are this – Safeway will reinvest when sales are affected and money can be made in fully capitalizing on the available real estate.

    With the current business environment and credit situation the redevelopment of Petworth has slowed dramatically. With condo/apartment developments on hold and flippers no longer flipping it makes less sense to redevelop that Safeway now.

    Now, if in a few years a developer was to approach Safeway and with a proposal to co-develop a store with retail at street level and apartments above – Safeway would jump at the opportunity. They did this in Seattle on a cusp neighborhood where gentrification/redevelopment had skipped past.

    Give it time. The best way to push for a new Safeway is to email corporate so they are aware of the stocking issues and second – support local businesses so they have the means to refurbish their storefronts thus creating a climate ripe for a new Safeway. It’s just like the line from Field of Dreams — “Build it and they will come.” Except it’s not Safeway building first but the local business – just like in Georgetown/Burleith/Glover Park.

    On another point – Petworth has a Metro stop – I’d gladly trade the cheese counter and nut bar at my Safeway for a Metro stop. Stop looking at what you don’t have and look at what you do have.

  • In the end all, it has to be an economically viable concern that is situated at this address.

    The best and most constructive redress is for many to write Safeway as Eric has written here twice.

    (-but soliciting politicians that just come and go ? Please.)

    Strength in numbers that might impress Safeway or another supermarket to come here is what might well bring needed change.

    Want to change a neighborhood ? Start at your front door !

    How does your place look ? Swept the front and back of your place this week ?

    When was the last paint job on your place ? Plant anything ?

    It’s still Springtime.

  • The president and CEO of Safeway lives in Alamo, California. My sister happens to live in Alamo as well. I swear, the nicest Safeway in the world is there in Alamo. You would think they were afraid/trained to fear the CEO walking in at any moment…

    Somehow, I doubt he has any personal property in lowly Petworth, or has even been to DC for that matter.

    Regarding the smell, there was a point in the early 90’s that grocery stores started frying chicken in their delis. You can’t fry chicken without it stinking up the entire store. I’m sorry. You just can’t.

  • I can’t imagine what this place looks like inside. Living a couple blocks from the park rd Giant, we ditched it a year ago for the Harris Teeter in adams morgan. MUCH better service, never a line and always a smile or friendly conversation (“did you find everything okay today?”) at the checkout. The staff at Giant always made us feel like they were doing us a favor by taking our money. These points above are worth a LOT in my book.

    • the service at the harris teeter is ridiculously good. a little *too* good maybe.

      that said, the employees of the safeway are actually friendly and helpful – that’s the least of my complaints about the store. i’d also argue they’re much more efficient at the checkout than those at giant. god, i hate that giant.

  • Once the DC government is done fixing the Petworth safeway (hopefully using a means that includes stringing up safeway executives on the lampposts), they need to turn their attention over to Mount Pleasant Street. Specifically, the El West clothing store. They sell nothing in there but tacky junk clothes geared toward a certain segment of the local population. El West has been in business for years, so I assume the store is profitable. I see people shopping in there, so clearly the locals are fine with it.

    However, I like to wear skinny jeans–they make me look cool and manly. Their tight fit in my crotch causes a burning sensation, the heat from which fuels me to go onto local message boards and make dumb, preening comments.

    We need for the DC council to go after those capitalist running dogs over at El West, and FORCE them to stock the skinny jeans i like to wear. It’s MURDER that i have to go over to Banana Republic or wherevs to do my skinny pants shopping.

  • Kustie, I don’t think your satire is apt in this situation. It implies that most people around Petworth prefer the Ga. Avenue Safeway just the way it is. That’s not true. This isn’t just a matter of taste, like skinny jeans. I’m sure everyone wants a clean, nice place to shop. Doesn’t have to be glam. No need for a thousand cheeses. Just a nice place that’s clean and odor-free.

    I agree that talking to the Safeway people makes more sense than buttonholing elected officials about it.

  • I agree with both of Christina’s comments – no need for 1,000 cheeses and an olive bar, but a basic grocery store that doesn’t stink should not be too much to ask for a middle-income neighborhood in a prosperous city. It’s offensive to say that just because many residents of Petworth are poor, a foul-smelling Safeway is good enough for them. I would be surprised if that store *didn’t* violate health codes given the smell, and I think that’s the real issue rather than what products they choose to stock.

    • Have you ever taken a good whiff of the inside of El West? Boy howdy!

      • If you’re talking about the store on MtP St that sells boots, jeans, and hats, then yes, I’ve been in there. It smells like leather, if I remember correctly. I’m really not seeing the parallel here.

  • I feel like I’m somehow living in an alternate universe Petworth, since my girlfriend and I shop at the Petworth Safeway several times a week. We buy almost all our groceries there and have found the staff to be pleasant and helpful even if the selection is somewhat limited (and am I the only one who thought the mint jelly comment was actually meant to be funny?).

    To be sure there are issues with the store, largely related to its size. Since there’s no room for deli or butcher counters, the meat selection is often quite disappointing, although I give the store management credit for the improvement I’ve observed in the past couple months — there has been more of the “rancher’s select” beef (or whatever they call their equivalent of Giant’s black-styrofoam stuff), and they’re doing a good job keeping it in stock. They still inevitably run out of whichever frozen shrimp (usually the large) is in the sale circular each week, but we’ve found that if we ask they’ll reprice some other size shrimp (usually the medium) to match the deal.

    Cashiers are always very friendly and all of them have figured out how to say the made-up last name we have on our club card. There aren’t always enough registers open, but that’s also true at the Giant. The rest of the staff is friendly and helpful as well. I’ve had the dairy people help me find non-broken eggs (and I’ve seen them going through the rest of the eggs on the shelf removing broken ones after I left); the produce department is at least as well run as Giant’s (and has better prices on many things — seriously, why are lemons and limes twice as expensive at Giant as they are at Safeway?), and when I’ve discovered mold on grapes or berries I’ve seen them re-inspect and remove bad packages after I left the area.

    Yes, the cheese selection is sad, but Giant’s not really much better (the fancy cheese selection there isn’t actually very good, it’s just a wider selection of mass-produced stuff). For that matter, Yes! doesn’t have much of a cheese selection either. If we want cheese we go to Calvert-Woodley, Eastern Market, Cowgirl, or Whole Foods (roughly in that order too, although it depends on if we’re already in a particular neighborhood). If we want organic produce or wine we go to Yes! (and those claiming Yes! is overpriced need to comparison shop — some things are overpriced, but some produce is competitive, especially if you consider that it’s organic). And packaged food is packaged food. We haven’t bothered to ask them to get specific items in, since we do have other options (Giant is close and we live on top of a Metro station), but I have to say I believe the store management would be responsive to such requests.

    I know haters gotta hate, and there’s definitely room for improvement, but my personal experience of shopping regularly at the Petworth Safeway is much better than one would expect from reading the comments here. Having shopped regularly at the Columbia Heights Giant for years before moving to Petworth last year, there are only two things I regularly miss: the butcher counter and the $2.00 coupons on same-day beef or pork (we usually cook it the day we buy it, so we often planned meals around whatever was marked down when we were shopping). I don’t miss the long lines at checkout, which I think were often worse at Giant than they are at Safeway.

    And I think that’s actually the most telling thing: Safeway will rebuild the store when the lines get too long, because right now there’s nowhere for extra registers to go. That a smaller Safeway with fewer registers has shorter lines than the larger Giant with more registers is a pretty strong indicator that there’s a smaller customer base. As Petworth continues to revive around it, the Safeway will have more of a financial incentive to keep up.

  • Late to the party, looks like it was a rager.

    Why not just shop elsewhere? See this old post ( about a well done report. There is an entirely appropriate role for the city government to be involved (at some level).

    Is this Safeway poorly maintained? Feels that way every time I step in there. Is that acceptable? Nope. Is it any less acceptable because the neighborhood houses more and more people not inclined to tolerate unacceptable or with options freeing them from unacceptable? Nope, we’re just hearing about it more.

    Safeway is sitting on a pot of money (block and a half from Metro, new construction on all sides, etc) and running a slip shod operation. Stand in their parking lot and you can see efforts at improvement all around you – so long as you don’t look at the Safeway itself (or, in fairness, at the Wendy’s). Their willingness to sit on the pot of money and not particpate in making the area nicer is offensive. That, and the smells, are why my family gets our food elsewhere.

  • oh man, wait till the streetcar comes down Georgia Avenue. That will be a game changer. Ask me in 5 years if Georgia Avenue will be redeveloped. Oh to the hell yes, probably with a combination of micro and macroeconomics, private enterprise, government (fed and local incentives) to make tea baggers, libertarians, liberals, moderates, and my trolley riding grandma happy.

    • saf

      Uh-huh. That’s what we said about the metro station.

      • You can’t say the metro hasn’t changed things (first in Columbia Heights and now in PW)

        • saf

          It has. But – it opened over 10 years ago. And everyone was saying, oh, yes, NOW investment will come. NOW development will come.

          Sorta. But the world hasn’t turned on end, it’s just changed a little.

          And CH and GA metro stations opened on the same day.

          • Great point, saf. And you can go even broader than that. There’s a prevalent notion that “if X comes, then Y will follow” among people who buy in gentrifying neighborhoods, and it manifests itself in weird ways when Y doesn’t actually show up on schedule, if at all. I hope it all happens, but the reality is that so many people complain because they presumed a reality other than the neighborhood into which they moved. Too many chickens get counted well before they hatch.

          • the big change for columbia heights was in 2008, not when the metro opened but with DC USA and other buildings. I think the point is, public transportation is a good thing and will bring positive change (but no not immediate)

          • in 2005, i didn’t buy in columbia heights because there were still drug dealers hanging out on 14th & newton. now i wouldn’t buy there because of the insane traffic crush. things have most certainly changed.

            it makes sense that columbia heights would gentrify/develop before petworth. the DC USA complex was a HUGE driver in that, but the gradual development from dupont, adams morgan, u street made columbia heights the next logical geographic location. the “north” columbia heights spillover is happening in petworth – it’ll get there.

  • i sent them an email pointing to this thread, and pointing out one of my biggest beefs (not any/enough organic produce and veggies), and got this reply:

    Dear Mr. Freemarket:

    Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding the cleanliness and product selection at your local Safeway store. We are sorry to hear that we are not meeting your expectations.

    Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience. Safeway continually strives for the highest quality of customer service and a positive shopping environment. Our commitment is to provide you with the high quality products you expect at competitive prices. We will forward your comments to the Store Manager as well as our Grocery Buyers for review and consideration.

    In addition, our research indicates that we do show sales of O ORGANIC CHICKEN WHOLE at your store. If you were unable to locate this item, it is possible that either it was temporarily out of stock or not located where you were looking. A Store Manager or clerk will always be glad to assist you.

    If you would like to discuss this further, please reply to this email or call our toll free number at 1-877-723-3929 and reference contact ID xxxxxxx. One of our associates will be happy to assist you.

    We appreciate your business and look forward to seeing you soon. Thank you for shopping at Safeway.


    Safeway Customer Service Team

  • let’s be fair here. wendy’s is perfect. there’s nothing to improve on there (besides maybe adding a second level that is a popeye’s or taco bell).

  • I think the comments here vastly outnumber comments in other recent threads on POP… That serves to show how much of an issue this is for the community. I am pretty sure that if Safeway hasn’t already noticed this post, they will and will be surprised at the fervor people have over the issue, and they will hopefully take it as a cue to raise their standards and attention to this store.

    Maybe this might actually accomplish something after all… possibly not. As a resident of petworth, I’d like to see some more “walking distance” stores come into this area, if you look at New York there are several Burroughs and bodegas as well as shopping corridors in each Burrough that are well stocked and quite clean, places that you wouldn’t mind eating in/from. Its up to DCRA to clean the other businesses in the neighborhoods and alleys up as well. We pay taxes, and get very little in return. In DC, though of course its not as big as NY, there is very little in terms of store diversity though the population is increasing rapidly.

    We need to slow barber shops and nail salons on GA ave, and create parks, cleaner restaurants, fitness gyms, and cafes on Georgia avenue. Things we have been missing for years would attract people that pass through GA avenue all the time. There is plenty of room on Georgia avenue for business growth. Any company that says otherwise is simply being ignorant, and a CVS doesn’t cut it. I would have preferred a Starbucks in that spot leaving more space for a Pot-Belly sandwich shop or something else, I have no idea why they needed a store that big right there. But at least CVS is NOT one of the companies that have redlined DC all of these years. I am not talking about building lots of huge residential/retail/commercial buildings as much as more modern in-demand, and clean store fronts, bike lanes, pedestrian bridges, etc.

    Georgia avenue is probably one of the most trafficked corridors in Washington D.C. There is no reason why it shouldn’t shine just as brightly as Georgetown without the mistakes that Georgetown has made in terms of high rent, metro accessibility, and parking limitations. Please don’t forget parking and diversity in development efforts though. I warn you all!

    • saf

      “they will hopefully take it as a cue to raise their standards and attention to this store.”

      Have you ever been to any of the public meetings in the neighborhood that Safeway reps have attended? They hear all this, they make HUGE promises, and nothing changes.

    • did you really just say you wanted a potbelly in that location? really?

      banish thee to the burbs!

    • Get rid of hair salons???? WTF world do you come from where you will blithely get rid of hair salons on Georgia Ave??? That’s like banishing catholic relics from the Vatican.

      A low end hair weave goes for $1000 (according to Chris Rock), when YOU bring in a commodity with such a high retail and margin, maybe you’ll have a chance at driving out those pesky salons and barbershops.

      • I don’t have a problem with Hair Salons, Georgia Avenue does. There are too many of them, along with enough barber shops and nail salons. I think that market is satisfied already in DC. 🙂

  • Don’t you dare speak badly of El West! For Halloween, there’s no place better to buy shirts with tassels on them and pointy boots to match! LOL!

  • I go to the Petworth Safeway as a last resort. If it were up to my girlfriend, we’d go hungry. I say upgrade or move out and make way for another market like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods to come on in. Yes Organic is cool, but we need something that is large enough to be a one stop shop for niche shoppers as well as something that provides enough variety for all. That type of large market is certainly lacking east of 16th Street and would definitely profit. What better place for it than Georgia Ave? In my opinion, the current Safeway is on prime real estate, so make something better of it, or move out of the way for someone who will. Just adding my two cents.


    Please do something with the space that is now the gross Safeway! Revamp it, sell it or rent it to another grocer, anything but leave it as the mess it is today. I live within 2 blocks and will never step foot inside that building as it is now. So many in our neighborhood agree. There are so many neighbors awaiting a chance to frequent a nice clean grocer at this location. It makes good business sense to clean it up! You must not realize how many people in that area are literally boycotting that store until something changes. Revenues could be huge there!!

  • Remember, it’s not like you’re being singled out. The Giant on 8th St in Shaw smells much worse than the Petworth Safeway, and housing prices are typically higher in that area than in Petworth. We, like you, have to stop shopping there to get them to want us back and finally begin the renovation promised way back in the early 2000’s.

  • Take the Georgia Ave. Development Survey if you want your voice heard about this stuff:

  • what’s the maximum number of comments a post has ever received?

  • Maybe they will cut a deal with SAFEWAY….

  • The store indeed smells bad, sells expired products and if i need help i can just forget about it. So even if the store does not get a total make up, at the very least it should get better management to address these very basic things.

    Since yes opened i no longer buy at Safeway. Normally i go to Yes for smaller trips or basic necessities but for weekly large shopping i go to Harris Teeter (i hate the long ans slow lines in the Giant in Columbia Heights).

    Bottom line: the question is should they be honest and say just no we are not going to upgrade? probably yes. My question is how can we get the management to be a bit better to take care of basic things like hygiene and stock management–i am not talking about making it pretty although it will be nice.

  • My fantasy: Wegmans decides to open its first urban store in a real metropolitan center, buys the land from Safeway, and opens a brand new, beautiful grocery store, blocks away from my house in Petworth. A girl can dream, right?

    • saf

      Wouldn’t that be lovely? But they have close their urban stores in western NY, and have no interest in anything but suburban, indeed, ex-urban, superstores. They are behind the times, IMO, but so it goes.

  • This is kind of hilarious.

    If you want the grocery store to improve, DO SOMETHING. Shop elsewhere (and there ARE other options that are accessable, and YES, I’ve gone to them without a car), write to Safeway, and COMPLAIN. I’m sure they would be more inclined to do something if they had consistent unhappy feedback from their customer base.

    For those of you that are whining about “racism,” I’ll invite you to the Safeway in Old Town Alexandria – WASPville. It’s fairly pretty crappy, tiny, and doesn’t have a big selection. I was actually thrilled when I went into the safeway by Georgia and Piney Branch and it was FAR superior to the one in Old Town.

    If your competition is Whole Foods and Dean & Deluca, and you run what the safeway used to be in Gtown, and people complain, it’s a business decision to upgrade. If your competition is YES! Organic Market and you run a crappy safeway, and people complain, it’s a business decision to upgrade. However, if your customers are still coming, why bother?

  • I’ve lived a few blocks from Safeway on Georgia Ave. for a year and a half. I’ve shopped there three times, each experience worst than the previous. If not hustled on my way inside or exiting (“wanna buy an iPod?” wonder where he got that?), half the food on the shelves is rotten, overpriced garbage. And, pleasant as some employees may be, horrible service. This is unacceptable, and as one of the largest neighborhoods in the District, Petworth has every right to a clean, functioning, economic, and local full-service grocery store. I live in the city so I don’t have to drive 3 miles to get a bag of apples. Safeway has dismally failed on all fronts. They haven’t maintained the resources they have, and shouldn’t be rewarded with government subsidy or cooperation. The Safeway is neighborhood blight. Tear it down, sell the site to Donatelli, or another crew, do a mixed use building on the site with a full service grocery on the ground floor. And DON’T give it to Safeway! I do my grocery shopping at Giant in Hyattsville, or Col. Heights. However, YES! is terrific, and I’ll pay a premium for a clean, efficient, friendly grocery in my neighborhood. I get my produce, milk, bread, and eggs there. Skip the Unsafeway, and put it out of its misery quickly.

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