Giant Lines Return to Giant

giant line

“Dear PoPville,

I shared the following message with Giant Food earlier today. It seems no matter how much sunlight we put on the conditions of their Columbia Heights store, old problems return. It would be great if you could share the post below:

Good morning,

I’ve been a resident of the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC for the past 10 years. For most of those years, I’ve lived within a block of the Giant on Park Road. Due to its convenience, it’s my primary source for groceries. While professionalism and customer service have improved dramatically in recent years, wait times are once again becoming a problem.

This was a significant problem back in 2011 that resulted in a promise to keep all lanes open during peak shopping hours. This promise has been rescinded without notice and long lines have once again returned. While the 10 newly installed self checkout kiosks are helpful, the staffed checkout lanes are regularly half staffed during peak hours, which results in long lines for those lanes and the self checkout kiosks. The population in the neighborhood continues to rise steadily, and Giant is still the only brick and mortar supermarket in the area. As such, the store should continue to invest in keeping lines short.

I’ve attached pictures of my experience earlier this week during peak hours. You’ll notice very long lines for self checkout and only half of the regular checkout lanes staffed. What you won’t see are the lines for those regular checkout lanes, which stretched halfway down the aisles. This has become a regular occurrence over the past several months, and I’m reaching the point of buying my groceries online from a different company.

57 Comment

  • It’s been like that for a while, not just recently. I used to go during the daytimes but the lines at mid-day are out of control. I’ve also stopped going to the Target because those lines are often just as bad. Easy solutions, but the companies just don’t want to hire more people.

    • If they hired more people, they’d just be sparse shift workers OR they’d be standing around most of the time doing nothing. While scenes like this aren’t uncommon for people who shop after work or on Sundays, 90% of the time these stores are open, they’re not that crowded.
      .
      So the solutions aren’t that simple.

    • I would not assume that the problem is a result of companies not wanting to hire more people. They may not be able to find people to do these jobs, or to do them at the salary being offered.

    • since they broke their promise, did they give you a free rotisserie chicken?

  • I’m not aware of any really practical ways to replace the weekly trip to the store. Google express is great for like six things. A CSA is nice for half the year. Peapod and other delivery services would be ok for some things, but definitely not all…
    And, I want to keep the cost down as much as possible. Would welcome suggestions of new services that won’t require managing a bunch of different log-ins/ carts/ delivery times, and won’t double my grocery bill.

    • I have trouble carrying heavy loads, so have been investigating this as well. Currently I order heavier items online and go to the store for fresh items.

      WalMart ships pantry goods at normal prices and pretty quickly. I know, it’s walmart, but they are willing to delivery big heavy containers of kitty litter without killing my budget. And also cat food, peanut butter, pasta soup, flour, dish soap, etc. It’s pretty easy to meet the minimum for free shipping.

      There’s also Target online, which is slowly expanding what they are willing to ship, but they also go out of stock quickly. Free shipping with the Red card or a minimum.

    • Instacart is pretty good, and for select vendors, the prices are equivalent to in-store. Delivery prices are relatively low for purchases over some threshold, and then there’s just the tip.
      .
      Unfortunately, services like Instacart (and most others) are still going to be delayed by the lines and cost more than necessary due to the costs/bottlenecks of physical stores. Someday, the groceries can come straight from the warehouse and physical stores will be less and less necessary, while groceries will cost less and less due to the reduced facility costs.

      • Peapod stocks directly from their warehouses/distribution centers, as far as I know.

        • Yeah, I think I’ve heard that. It’s a really good model; delivery trucks and gas are far cheaper than retail real estate. I assume this will slowly diminish the role grocery stores play, at least for routine stuff, in the future.

          • Eh, I’m an old fuddyduddy, and refuse to get food delivered to me – going to the grocery store is my daily exercise. Of course, being a retired fuddyduddy also means I can go to the grocery store at 11:30 a.m. when there are no lines whatsoever.

      • I love Instacart, though I haven’t used it that often since I moved a block away from a metro. For Whole Foods at least, their prices are the same, so you really just pay the $3 delivery charge and however much you want to tip your shopper. I think they specify when the prices are different. And unless it’s storming or something else that will cause a rush, you can get groceries delivered same day, often within a two hour window. My biggest issue with Peapod and Safeway delivery, in addition to the quality, was that I would have to order the day before and I rarely know what the next day is going to be like. That and those services will just omit unavailable items versus calling you to find an alternative. The nearest regular grocery store is about a mile away from me, so if I can’t make it to the store one week after work, I’ll do instacart.

    • If you’re happy replacing a hellish weekly trip to the store with a pleasant weekly trip, go to the AdMo Harris Teeter instead. I drive there from Petworth every weekend because it’s just that much better than the Petworth Safeway (which is already way better than the Columbia Heights Giant).

      • I love that Harris Teeter, but it’s difficult to get to (and carry groceries home from) w/o a car.

        • +1 when i lived in petworth i didn’t have a car but whenever my roommate did we always went to that Harris Teeter. the new Safeway isn’t bad when all lanes are open too, but not much use to CoHi residents who don’t have a car

      • Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve been to that store. But I was stunned at the high prices, especially of necessities/ staples.

        • HT is definitely a bit pricey, but if you hit up the sales, get the e-Vic emails, etc. you can bring it down quite a bit.

      • For whatever reasons, the AdMo Harris Teeter seems to be one of the consistently best managed stores in the city. Their stocking, especially produce, is outstanding and for anything I’ve ever needed help with the employees have been terrific. Competing managers really need to spend some time there.

      • +1 We live a block from the CH Giant and still go to the AdMO Harris Teeter for our weekly groceries. It is a bit easier for us because we have a car. The experience is so much better. Staff and clientele are super friendly and the lines move quickly (if there even is a line). The selection of produce is the best I’ve seen in the city and the store is super clean. The pleasant environment is worth the slightly higher prices, IMHO.

  • I was at the Van Ness Giant last night and the lines were extremely long there as well. Same for the CVS next door. A stop at these resulted in me getting home very late last night, quietly sneaking bits of bread out of the bag while riding the bus.

    • I have noticed a steady decline in checkout line customer service at the Van Ness Giant. We don’t have to be BFFS while you check me out, just treat my purchases with some GD respect. Customer service in this city is really hit-or-miss.

      Examples:
      -cashiers talking ACROSS/ABOVE/THROUGH me to the adjacent cashier about whatever minutiae-what time they get off, what time they go to break, how annoying their assigned task is, etc)
      -items being hurled across the scanner onto the counter (once resulting in an exploding can of ginger ale; at other times, easily-bruised fruit/produce). Before the exploding can incident, I half-jokinlgy asked the cashier to carefully handle my items, otherwise I would have to replace the items if damaged, thereby holding up her line. She did not listen–>hastily grabbed and scanned 6-pack and when she set it down, the can opened. And I had to walk back to the bev aisle to grab a replacement pack, which held up the line. (Welp???)
      -Max of 2 checkout lines open after 7pm sometimes or early Saturdays. Makes no sense to me, whatsoever.

      In my teens I worked as a cashier, but I never had side conversations with my coworkers about what time we got off, how long until my break, unless and until we had checked out all customers standing in front of us. Was the pay crappy? Sure, but we had work ethics and cared about our reputations. Perhaps this is a generational thing (i’m mid 30s), combined with depressingly-stagnant/low wages (never a good thing). Customers were our #1 priorities, period. We did not GRAB customers’ money, nor did we TOSS their change. WHAT is it with cashiers these days? No one knows how to properly extend their hands out to receive coins, apparently. (How do you receive coins with your palm halfway open?) And don’t dare take longer than a nanosecond to have your money, or they will start tapping on the register, huffing or pacing behind the register. (CVS, Giant, Safeway, Target…all guilty).

      • Walk yourself over to the customer service counter and complain. I shop here regularly and have had no problems getting them to take me seriously. Danette is simply wonderful, if you get her on her shift. The manager of the cashiers is a force to be reckoned with. Others have repacked my groceries for me after a clueless bagger fusterclucked the whole order.
        .
        It’s important to note these Giants are right near Metro stops, and I’ve noticed, particularly at Van Ness, the ebb and flow of commuter traffic that comes at rush hour. I know it’s unavoidable for many, but you’re asking for problems shopping at that time.

        • True, thanks Anonymous. Great points. (I live near the Brentwood Giant, which I love, BTW). Van Ness is my Saturday post-Golds errand sometimes. I do not mind lines on a Saturday, as I am not in a hurry. If it is after work M-F(on my way home from Tenley/FHeights), I do acknowledge that that is a busy/less-than-desirable time. My best shopping times are 7am on a Sat/Sun, either location.

          I will make a visit to customer service counter, in the future, if necessary. thanks for that, as well. ( the day of the can incident, i considered going to find a manager, just “slipped my mind.” K.I.T.H. reference, for anyone who cares for the show…lol)

  • “…Giant is still the only brick and mortar supermarket in the area.”

    The Petworth Safeway is less than a mile away from the Giant and never has lines. Just because Giant is a block from your residence doesn’t mean it’s the only local supermarket.

    • I have to call BS on this. The Petworth Safeway certainly has lines during peak hours. There are only 7 manned checkout lanes for the entire store and I don’t think I’ve ever seen all of the open simultaneously.

      • I’ll give you that, but OP acting like that area is a food desert is what my point was about.

        • Yeah – there’s Target, the Petworth Safeway, Best Way (World?) in Mt. P, the Latino Market up 4th, the Adams Morgan Harris Teeter, Streets on 14th – there are definitely other grocery options in the immediate area.

      • There are certainly lines at the Petworth Safeway, but I’ve rarely ever waited more than 5 minutes.

        • We waited 30 minutes (with our infant) this past Sunday at the Petworth Safeway. Not. Fun. They only had 4 lanes open and for some reason the checkers were SUPER SLOW.

  • Try Peapod. I have friends who have stopped going to the store.

    Neither Safeway nor Giant would stand for this type of service on the other side of the city.

  • Harris Teeter/Whole Foods are you listening?!?

  • And one of the reasons I started using Peapod (and Safeway delivery). It’s not as much fun as being able to select your stuff directly in the store, but no waiting in lines!

    That said, they should seriously try and address that problem for good.

    • plus i order groceries from work on my lunch. Groceries are delivered on sunday when I’m doing laundry anyway. And delivery is free.

  • accendo

    I’ve been using Safeway’s delivery service for a couple months now because of experiences like this in the stores. It’s been a great time-saver!

  • I used to say how much better the Petworth Safeway is, but it’s really taken a turn for the worst in recent months.

    And honestly, I kind of think it’s a cultural thing down here. I worked in a grocery store up north for years as a teenager and we’d be EMBARRASSED if we had more than five customers waiting in a single line and would work double-time to make sure we quickly cleared the customers out of the store. Down here, the cashiers never seem to be in a rush, will stop to chat with friends — and the customers don’t even seem bothered by it; they act like this is normal, even while I’m fuming about how long everything takes.

    I try not to get so worked up about it down here because you can’t change an entire region’s natural speed, but it drives me insane how slow people move down here in general — in the Metro, at the store, etc. Does no one have anywhere to be? Because I definitely have somewhere to be.

    • I’m bothered by it, but what can you do? I need groceries, and this is just how long it takes. When I first moved to the neighborhood, the lines infuriated me and I got worked up over them. But the only thing that does is make me rude to other people and grumpy and prickly for the rest of the day. Rolling with it is much better for my nerves.

      • Agreed it’s much better for our own personal sanity to roll with it — but this really is a problem that should be addressed. I agree with “Petworth Anonymous” that things have gone seriously down hill at the Petworth Safeway in the past few months. Some of the clerks are great, but far too many are playing on their phones, chatting with co-workers, or just generally not paying attention.

        Don’t even get me started on the security officers that congregate in clumps…

    • Ashy Oldlady

      That’s the truth. It’s a great example of how painfully southern DC still is, southern accent or not.

  • I don’t think this is an issue unique to Columbia Heights Giant. This is a problem at every grocery store I go to regularly in DC- Safeway on Piney Branch, Giant on Rhode Island Ave and Wal-Mart on Riggs. I’ve never seen any of these places with all lanes open though. I just don’t think they staff well enough during rush times. It’s really frustrating. I shouldn’t have to wait in line 15-20 minutes to buy groceries on the weekend.

  • This seems like a supply and demand problem. If they were actually losing customers as a result they would hire more staff. Singe people are apparently willing to wait in line for half an hour, why on earth would they staff up for no reason?
    .
    Shopping at another store would be a lot more effective strategy than writing an email to popville.

  • Vote with your dollars. Shop somewhere else! Stop complaining.

    • I think it’s appropriate to do both.

    • This is an ignorant comment. It’s much more likely that a store when addressed an individual’s complaint (either on a public forum, or provided to the appropriate people in management) than notice the 50 bucks a week they’re no longer getting from me because i’m shopping somewhere else. Not to mention that it’s simply not pratical for us to shop elsewhere.

      • Then why should the store care? You’re shopping there no matter what they do, so they may as well make the experience as cheap as possible on their end.

  • I must be living in some kind of magic bubble because I shop at that Giant all the time, and have rarely (if ever) seen such lines. Not saying it never happens, but apparently not frequently enough for me to have encountered it. The worst problem I’ve had is when somebody has food stamps in front of me–what seemed like a short line at the time ends up taking forever, usually because the person doesn’t understand what can and cannot be purchased with food stamps (and the checkout person is usually incredibly patient and helpful with them).

    • I learned long ago that only fools go grocery shopping right after work or on Saturday afternoons.
      I sometimes hit up the HT at 7am when they open on a random weekday morning before work. I’m in & out in 30 minutes and still at my desk at work downtown by 845am. It’s blissful.
      Also, Trader Joe’s at 945am on Sunday is great. Everyone is so friendly and shelves are fully stocked.

  • I’ve noticed much longer lines recently at the City Vista Safeway at 5th and L NW. I think that all of the new condo and rental construction in that area is starting to max them out. Happily the store is open 24 hours so it’s generally easier to navigate at odd hours if you’re willing to do that.

    • Yeah City Vista Safeway is great if you like soda, chips, and processed foods. Good luck if you want anything that resembles healthy food.

  • Its a DC thing y’all. I would rather stab myself than go to the H St NE Safeway any day of the week.

    I sometimes drive over 14th St bridge to Jeff Davis Hwy and I have the choice of Shoppers, Giant and Target …. its just so much more pleasant.

  • i thought this pic was from the Giant at H St NE at first glance. The lines were just as long on Sunday. Took 35 minutes to check out.

  • Shhh . . . don’t tell anyone, but the Capitol Supermarket on 11th NW btw. M and N has almost everything you need, is quick to navigate, and rarely has ANY lines. There is less of the nonsense that pervades modern stores (how many types of mayo do you need?) while produce and ethic foods are plentiful and very affordable (e.g., 6 limes for $1.00, bunch of cilantro for $0.50). I often stop by on my way home, and when taking a bus, can get off the bus, do my shopping in 15 minutes (again, no lines) and catch the next one.

    I would imagine the other older-generation stores around town are similar (DC’s Best on U St., Panamericana on 14th, Bestworld in Mt.P and recommend people ditch the bloated full-service grocery store unless they need something super-specific.

    • Yep, definitely did more grocery shopping at Best world than giant when I lived at 16th and Park.

    • Second the motion on Capitol Supermarket. I used to go there more often before the City Vista Safeway opened in order to avoid the living hell that was the old O Street Giant. Capitol is a great option when you’re just picking up a few things and don’t want the whole mega-grocery experience. Plus you can check out the “Wall of Shame” where they post the pictures of the people who have been caught shoplifting.

  • Anyone who hasn’t lived with the Foggy Bottom Trader Joe’s as their neighborhood grocery store can’t complain.

    You literally walk in, get in line with your cart and then have to grab items as the line snakes through the aisles – because the line begins at the door and runs through the whole store.

    Or option B is to park your cart in the middle of the store and then do “runs” throughout the store to gather and dump items into it – because you can’t get a cart down the jam-packed aisles.

  • This really isn’t isolated to that Giant, but a recurrent problem for most big grocery stores in the District. Harris Teeter in NoMa is like this almost every evening around 6:00ish.

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