“Witnessed a Giant worker sniffing the meat in the case and selectively choosing which packets to put on a cart and take away”

7th and O Street, NW

“Dear PoPville,

I was there on Thursday (Jan. 1) and the store was completely out of ground beef other than the 3.5 pound packs of 80/20 beef. When i asked a store clerk if they had any in back, she informed that they had not gotten ground beef for 3 days.

And the week before that, my husband went to the same giant and they were out of chicken breast.

These items seem like fairly basic things one would expect to find in every grocery store. As this is still a neighborhood in transition, I would imagine not every person who shops there has the luxury or time to go to another store that is further away to get basic items like chicken or ground beef.

In addition, I also witnessed a Giant worker sniffing the meat in the case and selectively choosing which packets to put on a cart and take away from the case.

This is very concerning, especially for a store that was touted as a great improvement over the last store. I have found almost every time they don’t have some fairly basic items. The front of the store is great and outside is very appealing, but once you get into the interior of this Giant, it seems like its just the same old challenges that occur at almost all the grocery stores in D.C.–limited stock and low quality produce.

Have other people had negative experiences at the new Giant on O Street?”

88 Comment

  • You were shocked a store was out of something days around two of the biggest holidays of the year?

    • Blithe

      I’m with Ben. I don’t shop here — but between three major holidays and the snow, several usually well-stocked stores have been out of basics like ground turkey and lettuce. The “sniffing” does sound quite concerning, but if your concerns about the store’s stock of basics is based mostly on the past three weeks or so, you might want to both speak with a manager to relay your concerns, and give the store a few more weeks — to see if the stocking problems were related to abnormal and possibly unpredictable purchasing patterns during the holiday season. It’s a new store — so while they may know to order more bread when snow is predicted, it might take them a bit of experience to figure out just how much more to order — since the flip side of ordering not enough is, as you witnessed, ordering too much.

      • The employee could have just been sniffing to be extra careful. For example, all of those packages could have been far from their expiration, but he may have thought he smelled something or another customer picked one that was off, and he was checking to make sure they were all ok rather than keeping them on the shelves solely on the basis that they’re not expired.

        • Yeah I went and they were out of eggs. I had a flashback to the old Giant but I think it was definitely due to a post-New Years grocery slam. Smelling of meat is gross and I’m not even sure how that would work. The produce is Giant quality produce, not better not worse.

    • DC is full of people who through youth and or privilege or plain old obliviousness don’t think about practical things. Of course, stuff runs short during the holidays and there’s no magic formula for restocking. I go to this store at least once a week–it’s much better run than the one in Columbia Heights. They never seem to be out of stock of things that aren’t short elsewhere. I had to pick up a few things from there and from S’way and WF over the weekend and they all had gaps.

  • I’m a regular customer there, and I can attest that it has gone downhill real fast. I was there this past Sunday night, and it felt like a grocery store in Venezuela. Lots and lots of empty shelves.

  • Never buy meat from Giant or Safeway

    • #NotAllGiants. Although, I purchased two packages of chicken thighs 2 weeks ago (albeit with sell-by dates the next day), and after a 5 minute walk home opened the packages to find both were spoiled. I went to customer service the next day and they provided a refund with store credit. They said that next time I should have returned with the product.

    • And if you want really good meat – (lamb anyway is all I’ve had, but the rest of it looks good) – go to the Lebanese butcher in Vienna on Annadale rd. – it sounds off-the-map, but is actually only about 5 min. past 7 corners on rt. 50.

      • Why would anyone discussing DC grocery stores drive all the way out to 7 corners for meat? Just sayin…

      • clevelanddave

        The Lebanese Butcher in Falls Church is closed, unfortunately.

        • Not true. They closed for a while because of a fire in the building, but they moved about a half mile away and are now called Mount of Lebanon. Though it’s a little strange setup, I can’t recommend strongly enough that everyone go here for a meal (eat in). The food is amazing.

    • clevelanddave

      I have to agree: last time I was there the place was kind of a mess and they were totally out of eggs. Earlier, I found the meat manager to be totally dismissive when I pointed out that certain items were mislabeled and out of date. He should be fired, or sent for retraining, but apparently that hasn’t happened. Well I guess it is better than the Harris Teeter that was shut down at Mt. Vernon Square a few weeks back, but they may be headed there if they don’t run out.

  • I went to this Giant on Sunday and they were completely out of lettuce. It was almost comical, thinking of all those New Years resolutions. I was so frustrated, I picked up a few essentials and went back on Monday evening to find that ALL the eggs were gone. This is so disappointing. I have really enjoyed the renovated Giant but this is just sad.

  • It cannot possibly be worse than the Columbia Heights Giant.

    • Mug of Glop

      After shopping at the Columbia Heights Giant almost exclusively for a year before moving to Logan and shopping here about a half dozen times so far, it’s not worse by a long shot. With the exception that this one doesn’t carry the Argentine and Mexican chorizo sausage that the CoHi one has. Aside from that, the O Street Giant is larger, cleaner, has better produce, and shorter lines than CoHi.

      • Wow. I’m constantly underwhelmed/disappointed by the O Street Giant, and can’t imagine how much worse the CoHi store must be. What bugs me most about this store is that is seems like a place that should be nice/well-stocked/pleasant for shopping yet is run by employees who couldn’t seem to care less about the quality of their product. Unless I’m in a pinch, I’ll take the time to go to Harris Teeter over this Giant.

  • Though the random smelling of the meats is a bit disconcerting, I imagine the issue with not stocking certain items is just one of the perils of a big city, big chain grocery store. I’ve shopped in a number of Giants and Safeways throughout the city and my experience has been the same–little or no produce options, certain cuts of meats never in stock, certain items missing from shelves, etc. I get frustrated with it sometimes but then I remember that I’d much rather live in the city than have a sprawling grocery store with endless options out in the suburbs.

    • +1 — I can’t think of a single grocery store in the city that doesn’t have trouble keeping some basics stocked from time to time, and although that can be inconvenient, it’s not the end of the world. I shop at this Giant sometimes and consider it to be pretty reliable for packaged food, but very hit-or-miss for fresh items. I try to buy all of my fresh items elsewhere.

    • I worked at Giant HQ years ago (right after the merger with Stop and Shop). The issue with product availability is probably not the local manager’s fault. A lot of the ordering is automated (and not necessarily that well). Also, if you’ve got really bad road conditions or traffic, the trucks can be delayed getting to the store and wreak havoc. I was there this Sunday as well while employees were stocking shelves during the Sunday rush and, given that this was an issue throughout the store, I am guessing it was a truck issue.

    • Yeah, when I went to TJ’s on 14th last Friday evening, there were LOTS of barren shelves. I figured it was due to the holidays and whatnot. Just happens sometimes…

  • I went last night and they were out of chicken breasts, most of their breads, and a lot of milk. It is really disappointing, because it’s so convenient to my house.

    • I’m sure just about every store in the DC area was low on milk and bread following Tuesdays storm. It’s the first to go when people panic over snow.

      • That, and they were already picked over after the post-holiday influx that took place over the weekend. WF on P was utterly swamped with people on Sunday so I’m not remotely surprised that Giant ran low on staples.

  • All the above complaints also relate the Columbia Heights Giant. Went on Monday – no chicken at all in the store. Went last week – they had almost no produce. Not just no cauliflower, or no carrots — no produce. It must be a distribution issue if it’s a problem at multiple locations.

    • I was waiting to return something at the CH Giant (expired when I bought it– partially my fault, I guess) and I noticed that the position of “Perishables Manager” was vacant. And I wondered if that explained the worse-than-usual produce quality and the total lack of cage-free eggs. That was weird: the egg shelves were completely stocked, top to bottom. But every single carton was the same conventional giant brand. I’m used to seeing 3 or 4 alternatives (organic, antibiotic-free, etc). It reminded me of (my own experience of) a south african grocery: tons of food, zero choice. Like, an entire aisle of white rice. Two pound bags, five pound bags, fifty pound bags. All the same brand of the same variety of white rice.

      • Oh yeah, that reminds me – this weekend I went and they were all out of large eggs by the dozen. Then again, they were on sale.

      • west_egg

        Harris Teeter was having trouble keeping cage-free eggs in stock over the summer; the sign they posted in the case explained that there were supply issues beyond the company’s reach. I wonder if something similar is going on. (P.S. This is a great example of why I love the Teet — they take the time to explain things like that to their customers, rather than leave them frustrated in front of the egg case. It’s really just a sound business decision that doesn’t occur to other retailers, it seems.)

      • Complaints about the lack of cage free eggs… Groan. I cant unread that.

  • I was there on Sunday and they had a giant crew clearly standing around. Has anyone contacted Giant or asked their management? I think the recent shortages have been because they’re doing inventory. If anyone has ever worked retail, you know at least once a year, you get few shipments and over the course of a few nights, a special inventory contractor comes in and counts every single item in the store. It seemed like some people were doing that Sunday night. And that could explain why they’ve been short of things the past week.

  • Thank god i have never had this issue with the Harris Teeter by my house.

  • Allison

    At the Safeway in Southwest earlier this week they were completely out of milk (husband even texted me incredulously a photo of the empty milk shelves) and a day or so later the chicken refrigerator bin was basically empty aside from a few rancid stragglers no one wanted to buy. Something must have happened in the distribution network…

  • I refuse to shop at this Giant. It’s dirty, comparatively expensive, and disorganized. I’ve brought home multiple purchases, unwrapped them, and found food moldy (steak, shredded cheese) or disgustingly rancid (pork loin, deli meat, milk) – despite the fact that sell-by and expiration dates still hadn’t passed – and I was wary, but assumed that was the risk of shopping at a new grocery store that was still working out the kinks.

    But after a homeless man threw a pack of ground beef at me when I declined to pay for his cart full of groceries – while the store staff actually stood by, watched, and laughed – I decided to never go back…

  • Trader Joe’s was totally out of produce, eggs, and most bakery items last friday.

  • Don’t you mean “Seductively put on cart” ?

  • I stop here from time time. Never had any issues and never really seen empty shelves. Beats the heck out of Whole Paycheck prices and rodent infestations at the Harris Teeter in NOMA.

    My only complaint about this Giant is that they don’t have the Hand Scanner technology, which I attribute to concern over shoplifting (eg, people not scanning all of the items in their baskets). But every suburban Giant has them.

    • I can understand getting dry items at a Giant or Safeway, but you will always roll the dice on anything perishable. That’s just how it works. If you want good perishable items you shell out a little bit more money and go to WF. I’ve never had a problem there, and they were stocked this past weekend.

  • This giant does run out of things sometimes, but compared to the City Vista Safeway, this place is a dream come true (with low expectations all around). Safeway constantly was out of produce and rarely had 50% of what I was looking for.

  • The situation with produce in these grocery stores is a real catch 22. The more open, the more spread-out the demand is, which leads to slower produce sales and the produce floundering on the shelf. If you throw it out quickly and replace with new stock, you have to raise prices, which reduces demand even more. If you keep it, you end up with rotting produce on your shelves, reducing demand even more. Every new grocery store that opens nearby makes the problem worse by spreading the demand out. When the only quality grocery store near me (in Ledroit Park) was the AdMo Harris Teeter, the produce was always excellent because it turned over every single day.

  • Is “sniffing meat” some kind of euphomism? (I’d look it up but I can’t access urban dictionary at work) It not, that doesn’t sound so bad to me. There’s plenty of worse things an employee can do to meat.

    • +1 – that’s generally how I tell if meat is bad. “Sell by” or “expiration” dates are pretty much worthless.

  • There’s a thread on the Petworth listserv yesterday/today about spoiled meat at the new Petworth Safeway. DC grocery stores are sad.

    • Worth remembering that there’s a Yes Organic Market just down the street from the Petworth Safeway. Only two or three blocks north on Georgia.

  • It’s not just Giant I’m afraid:

    The P Street Whole Foods runs out of stuff that I’d consider basic staples, too: chicken breasts, ground turkey breast, cauliflower; it also took them the better part of a week to get peppercorns in before Thanksgiving. And often times, I don’t even recognize some of the unappetizing slops on the hot foods bar.

    Yesterday, the Harris Teeter in Adams Morgan had loads of expired cottage cheese in the case (Breakstone).

    And not long ago, I picked up a fresh chicken from Yes! that while not expired, it had somehow spoiled. I threw up in my mouth a little just now remembering how putrid the smell was as I sliced open the packaging.

    • Agreed. The Whole Foods on P St has all the same problems as the others have commented about Giant, Safeway, and Teeter. I’ve bought bad meat and moldy cheese despite being within the sell-by dates. They are always fine with giving me my money back. They are also frequently out of all kinds of things, as you mentioned. I’ll add other basics like garlic, limes, cilantro, parsley, thyme, and rosemary. There is really no good alternative. It’s unfortunate to pay so much for something upon which you cannot rely.

      • You are the first person I’ve heard of who has had that sort of trouble at WF. The only things I can think of that I’ve needed and not been able to get have been herbs, and that is a rare issue. Bad luck having to return something there.

      • I usually go to Whole Foods because I haven’t had these same problems there. But YES — I agree about WF being good about refunds. Twice I have ended up with products that were questionable because the inner seal wasn’t sealed all the way and they gave me my money back no questions asked.

      • *clarification: i usually go to Whole Foods for fresh stuff. I never get anything that’s not fresh there because I really can’t afford it.

    • Agreed. The hot food buffet at WF on “P” has really gone down hill (in appearance anyway).

  • You want to see (and smell) a bad grocery store? Go to the Brentwood Giant any day of the year. The Fish Counter smell will assault you from the minute you enter. And don’t ever buy their meat, it goes gray in 2 days. There are slow check out lines every single time you go there and its just a generally shitty place.

    The O St Giant looks like a Whole Foods in comparison.

    • I’ve shopped at Brentwood Giant for years, and never smelled the seafood counter, and I’m frequently there for produce which is right next to the seafood. I’ve found self-checkout to be pretty quick as long as people aren’t trying to take 2 carts worth. Occasionally I’ve been unable to find things: mint or ginger, but I’ve had that problem at the nice giant on H st too. I’ve bought meat from there on numerous occasions and never had an issue, and I usually wait a day or 2 to cook it. No place is perfect, but neither Giant is the den of no hope people are making them out to be.

    • Sounds like Best World in Mt.P. I used to call the 17th street block behind it “fish alley” from how bad it smells in the summer.

  • I shop at the O Street Giant pretty regularly. I’ve not had these negative experiences. In fact, I’ve generally been impressed with the selection there and have found the staff mostly friendly and helpful.

  • Been shopping here almost weekly for over a year. I continue to have extremely positive experiences at this Giant. I’ve never once gotten a rotten or moldy item. I have but a single complaint: they do a horrible job keeping herbs stocked. They often run out of even the basics like basil and parsley. Sometimes you’ll go to the herbs and it will be, like, 50 things of lemongrass and nothing else.

  • Listen, I normally LOVE this giant. Workers are friendly and it is in a beautiful building. Yesterday, they were out of EGGS. ALL EGGS. Then I went over to the bread section to find that they had only a few loaves of bread. It was very strange. I have been going to this Giant for almost a year and they usually have everything I need in stock. Something must be up lately.

    • You mean yesterday after the “snowstorm”..? TP and bottled water was probably low too.

    • I’m guessing that something is “snow” and all of the traffic problems that it caused. Those eggs aren’t hatched on site.

  • I was in the midwest over the holidays. I went to a large chain grocery store in an upscale neighborhood. The store was completely out of two items I needed, and a different item my sister needed. Not all problems are unique to DC.

  • I shop at the Corcoran Street Safeway so the thought of being surprised at empty shelves just makes me laugh. I know, I know, the O St Giant is much bigger and is supposed to be a nice new store; I am not unsympathetic. At my Safeway I learned long ago not to shop on Sunday evenings, when you are almost guaranteed both empty shelves and long check-out lines, and as for shopping during snow panic – never. (I’d rather go to the Qwiki Mart and buy Cream of Eel soup from Apu.) And yet, this very morning I was talking about that store with a colleague, saying that for all its faults I hope they never close it.

    • Despite warnings about the Corcoran Street Safeway when I moved to the neighborhood, I genuinely have come to respect it. I think they do a very impressive task at restocking given their size and the difficulty of deliveries there. Moreover, I have never once had a bad experience with an employee. Every interaction has been polite and helpful. I can’t at all say the same with the few times I’ve tried the CoHi Giant.

    • Apu? Thats racist yo!

  • Just how big was this worker, really?

  • I wish we would get an H mart in DC

  • That’s pretty racist.

  • For those who aren’t locals, meaning you leave DC for the holidays to go back to where your family is from or lives, please be aware that the city is dead (almost a ghost town) for the two to three weeks around the holidays in Dec/Jan. As a result, understand the city’s grocery stores restocking practices will reflect the DC population that sticks around for the holidays. Others have said it already, but this combined with the inclement weather will make for shortages.
    Easy solution, become Vegetarian! It’s 2015, go green!

    • +1000 I’m vegetarian and therefore never thrown up in my mouth when cutting open nasty grocery store meat.

    • And yet this giant is regularly out of standard produce items (cilantro and bell peppers come to mind from a recent trip), so don’t count on vegetarians doing much better.

    • clevelanddave

      Don’t get too cocky. Rotten fruits or veggies can smell pretty awful too. Ever bite into a rotten potato, or smell moldy spinach or a bad melon? Bleh!

  • I’ve shopped here every single day since March 15th unless I’ve been traveling and have never once not been able to get anything because they are out of stock – sounds like a combo of bad luck and bad holiday timing.

  • I absolutely love this store! We regularly opt to go here rather than the Park Rd. Giant or Georgia Safeway because it is so much cleaner and well stocked. I can’t comment on the meat (don’t eat it), but the produce in my experience has always been great.

  • To all of you who seem to be surprised when stores run out of bread (gasp!), milk (gasp!), eggs (gasp!) and TP (double gasp!) before/during a snowstorm, you are clearly new to this area and/or snowstorms. I like to joke that people crave French toast during storms and it gives them the runs, but apparently bread, milk and eggs are staples for many and apparently a lot of people are living roll-to-roll on TP…

  • I hate going to that Giant. The employees are rude and seem to stand around doing nothing a lot – to the point that they won’t at least get out of the way! The floors are always a disaster and the meat shelves always have blood/fluids dripping all over that should be cleaned up. This store went downhill very quickly and I only shop there rarely. Hooray for working near a Wegman’s.

  • It’s not just Giant @ O street. Giant on Park/14th and the Petworth Safeway just run out of basic items from time to time. These are not suburban Wal-Marts with sprawling square footage and state-of-the-art inventory replenishment systems. Sometimes the items you want are just not available because of the supplier had an inventory hiccup, or a cooler in the distro center broke, or somebody didn’t put the right quantity in the system, or some other supply chain issue. Deal with it like an adult and learn to adapt to life’s uncertainties.

  • Sadly, it’s clear that the quality of grocery stores still depends on their location. I go out of my way to shop at the Georgetown Safeway, and it never has any of the issues that grocery stores in other parts of town can never seem to remedy. Columbia Heights Giant? Still a total shit show every time I go there, and it always has been. Southwest Safeway? I’ve never seen so many security guards and police officers in a grocery store. Every time I go in there, I expect to see some sort of bizarre activity. It sounds like the O Street Giant is no exception.

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