Malbec Malfeasance at the Petworth Safeway?


“Dear PoPville,

Has anyone noticed the crazy wine prices at the Petworth Safeway? Typically cheap bottles there are now ~$10 dollars more than Trader Joes or the local corner stores. Is this some marketing scheme to increase prices only to make the discounts seem substantial? Has anyone else seen this practice at other Safeways in DC? This is clearly a first world problem but me and my fellow winos are curious about what’s going on.”

85 Comment

  • I’d rather see this than the different super markets getting together to collude to fix prices.

  • “Is this some marketing scheme to increase prices only to make the discounts seem substantial?”

  • Hah! That’s ridiculous. I know it’s a trek to Trader Joe’s or other stores for a lot of people, but really, probably the most effective way to deal with price gouging like this is to just shop elsewhere. Even Whole Foods has decent wine a lot cheaper than that….

    • samanda_bynes

      if you goin to the petworth safeway, you close to lion liquor, just go there.

    • It’s not just the trek, it’s that shopping at Trader Joe’s is such a maddeningly unpleasant experience. You save money but it’s aggravating and takes longer.
      Harris Teeter seems to have the perfect mix of low prices and convenience IMO.

      • I agree about Harris Teeter (I just wish it was a little closer to me, since the trek there is about as long as I’d spend in line at Trader Joe’s. I guess it really does depend on where you live!).

      • Shopping at Trader Joe’s (any TJs in the greater DC area) is a terrible experience. Years ago I realized that their tasty snacks and cheap wine were not worth the aggravation. I now split my grocery shopping between Harris Teeter and Aldis. Aldis for the cheap snacks and HT for everything else.

      • If you shop between 8 – 10 a.m. on weekends, it’s perfect!!!! That’s my preferred time before or just after a workout, it’s a breeze to get in & out.

        • Good to know. I live really close to where they’re building the Capitol Hill Trader Joe’s and figured I’d avoid it (under normal conditions those stores give me migraines). But it’s only a block away– I could probably get there early on a weekend and beat the crowds.

        • Shhh! (It’s also good for me after work, since I get out on the early side…)

        • I go to the TJs in Clarendon (I live by Cap South) and there is zero line around 8 on weekdays (or generally as soon as the post-work rush dies down) and relatively little line mid-day on the weekends. It’s also much bigger than the two DC stores. I don’t find it anymore frustrating than any other grocery store. If the only one you’ve been to is the one if Foggy Bottom or 14th Street right when it opened, then I totally get your frustration. FB is laughably small, but I’ve been to 14th Street a few times in the last year when there hasn’t been a super long line.

          • My experience is more with the suburban stores (though I’ve never been to the Clarendon location) and it’s hard to imagine the city versions being any worse than that!

          • Oh man, the Foggy Bottom one can be miserable, but the other newer, larger locations are MUCH better. I second that.

        • le’ts not tell people this. THANKS.

  • Trader Joe’s is known for their cheap wine, but even Harris Teeter doesn’t charge more than $10 for Alamos Malbec.

  • Wow, at Costco, it’s only $6!

  • Do you mean to tell me that two different retailers might charge two different prices for the same product? I don’t believe it.

  • Vinho verde malfeasance everywhere. The TJ’s bottle is $4.50, same stuff is ~$10-12 at Whole Foods and D’vines.

  • $18 Alamos makes me think that Safeway is taking a page from PT Barnum’s book…

  • It could also be something as simple as the person doing the pricing set the price as case being six bottles instead of 12. I’ve seen the opposite happen, where the price of a case of six bottles was split 12 ways to find the individual unit cost, and then the retail prices was based on that price, which was half of what it should have been. Just saying.

  • If I’m not mistaken, Safeway has a deal where you buy 1 bottle get the second for like $0.10. So two bottles would be $9 bucks. Still more expensive than Trader Joes.

    • This. They run that promo all the time.

    • Yup. And not just Petworth–I’ve seen this deal and pricing scheme at several Safeways. Generally speaking, their sale merchandise isn’t generally a true sale price.

    • Yes, that’s exactly it – it’s a gimmick to get you to buy more than one bottle. I thought it was clever and fell for it several times until the day wine was my only purchase and I realized that the discount on the second bottle wasn’t there. I’ve noticed the same “oops” on other items that have the same buy-one-get-one discount, but you won’t catch it unless you’re in self-checkout or watching the itemized list in the regular lanes.
      Each time it happened, it was extremely difficult for the manager to go into the system and make the discount happen.

    • orderedchaos

      Exactly — it’s BOGO, which makes it about the same price or slightly higher than Trader Joe’s et al.

      • But this assumes OP wants two bottles. In this case, OP would buy one bottle at $18 and get one free (assuming the register rings it up correctly), which makes each bottle only $1 more expensive than Trader Joe’s [I assume Dan meant “9 bucks *each*”]. But not everyone wants or needs that second bottle.

  • jim_ed

    That’s about par for the course on most products at that Safeway. Their prices are absurdly high on just about everything as far as I can tell.

    • maxwell smart

      Truth. People joke about WholePaycheck, but I find the prices to be much higher at Safeway across the board with significant less quality. The produce at Safeway is always a joke – dumpster produce is better quality. I have a Safeway I could easily walk to and I almost always bypass it and go the extra mile (literally) to Whole Foods or Giant.

      • I’ve never done a true wine price comparison like this, but in general I find Giant to be the most expensive of the “regular” grocery stores by far.

        • maxwell smart

          I’m talking just in general terms – milk, eggs, bread.

          • I agree about both Giant and Safeway in relation to Whole Foods. Not going to lie, I actually go to whole foods for staples like meat and produce because I find them to be cheaper and far fresher than these bigger chains… as long as you don’t buy any of the fancy gimmicky packaged stuff.

          • I find Whole Foods to be significantly less expensive than Safeway and Giant for dairy products. And generally, the WF dairy products remain fresh longer at home. Since it is convenient to other places I walk, I generally pick up milk and yogurt there on my way home.

      • +1. WF and Safeway are the two grocery stores convenient to my place, and I shop at both. Safeway is way cheaper on condiments and marginally cheaper on produce, but the quality of the latter is so low it’s really not worth the difference in price. WF is cheaper on almost everything else as far as I can tell, as long as you check prices and don’t buy the $20 seasoned almonds. If I had to pick one store, it’s WF by a mile, for both quality and price.

    • NH Ave Hiker

      A lot of grocery stores do this, their prices are only normal if you have a card. Everything else is priced-high.

    • I drive from Petworth over to the new Giant because the quality is WAY higher, the aisles are bigger, it’s cleaner and somehow being on Wiscosin Ave. is cheaper than the Safeway on Petworth. I’ve returned spoiled meat and produce multiple times to the “new” Safeway. I’m done with that dumpster fire of a store.

  • I have actually gotten some good deals on decent wine at that Safeway in the past.

  • We need an MPD tent in the safeway wine aisle.

  • SafeWay is garbage at best. I really wish we had either Trader Joes or Rodmans in Park View/Petworth/Columbia Heights,

  • “Is this some marketing scheme to increase prices only to make the discounts seem substantial?”
    Duh – its Safeway, lol. They do this all the time, and not just for wine.

    • This is also why we need a Total Wine in DC. If I see a $15-$20 price tag on a bottle of wine, it for sure should not be a bottle of Alamos, at least I could have some better options. Total Wine and Trader Joes are safe bets.

  • the entire store is like this!!! the sale prices are still anywhere from 30 cents to 10 dollar more than giant or anywhere else really.

    safeway is never a deal. if you hate money you should shop there.

    • NH Ave Hiker

      If you only buy stuff on sale with your safeway card, the prices are fine. You just have to be a careful shopper.

      • maxwell smart

        ain’t no one got time for that

        • All you need is the app.

          • maxwell smart

            As great as it would be to have the time and convenience to read the weekly sales flyers, make special sales based trips to the store, and plan out my groceries for the week based on sales, the fact of the matter is, I need groceries when I need groceries and I’m going to buy pretty much whatever I want, sale or not. At this point, I see the sale as a bonus, not something I make a special trip to the store for. Also I generally find, and Safeway is especially bad about this, that the sale is predicated on buying in bulk. I don’t have the space or need for 4 loaves of bread, but I can only get the sale if I purchase 4.

          • That’s what I love about HT– BOGO items ring up half price so you don’t need to buy two.

  • That One Guy

    So the moral of this post is that you’re supposed to buy this wine from Trader Joe’s and return to Safeway?
    One of the first thoughts that cross my mind was arbitrage play. *shrug*

  • hahaha mt boyfriend and i noticed this a few months ago. after we saw our favorite bottle of wine that we usually get for about 8 bucks being sold for 15 but marked down to 10. THis was at Petworth safeway.

  • It’s really striking how much the different Safeway locations in DC vary, in terms of quality. The Petworth location is the opposite of the Georgetown Safeway.

  • Something like 75% of the wines are “on sale” for 25-40% cheaper (or about market price) if you have a Safeway frequent customer card. As others have pointed out, they also frequently have a BOGO deal on bottles of wine. In fact, a lot of Safeway’s inventory is priced according to this JCPenney-like, inflated pricing system.
    Just ask somebody behind you in line if you can use their card next time. Most people who shop there regularly know the deal.

  • I frequent the wine section in Safeway and I can speak with all certainty that the price of that wine was raised when they began the “Buy 1 get 1 for 10 cents” deal– Which in fact is not deal at all because you most likely end up paying more. I think its targeted to those who dont shop there on a regular basis. Regulars should be familiar with this tactic.

    • Yep. Last weekend my girlfriend and I were buying prosecco at a Safeway, and a bottle I’d bought at Harris Teeter the week before was twice as expensive as I’d remembered. I thought I was losing it, but then I noticed the “Buy 1 get 1 for 10 cents” sign and it made sense.
      If it was a non-wine item I’d be incredibly annoyed by this tactic, but I can’t say I mind being forced to buy an extra bottle.

    • Exactly. I’ve stopped buying wine there, and just walk the couple blocks to yes, where they have a better selection and cheaper prices.

  • i think it’s more interesting that commenters here assume the OP doesn’t have or isn’t using a Safeway loyalty card. does anyone (tourists aside) actually ever NOT use a loyalty card at safeway?

    • When I was at a supermarket in NY (Stop & Shop, so I asked if they accept the Giant loyalty card, but they didn’t), it was simply a matter of asking the cashier to use her courtesy loyalty card, and I got all the sale prices. I have also done that at places like HT that are not convenient and I don’t expect to patronize again, and I have never been turned down.

    • I have never seen anyone not use a loyalty card at any of these large chain stores, and I have no idea why people are assuming they’re not.

  • I’ve noticed this too – it’s the buy one get one for 10 cents deal. They mark up the bottles of wine so it seems like you’re getting a deal when the second is 10 cents. Crazy!

  • djdc

    The sign on the right reads $7.99. So is it possible that the $17.99 sign on the left is simply a mistake?

    • That’s actually a good point. I wonder if anyone going to a different Safeway could confirm the price there?

    • The sign on the right is from TJ’s. I think that’s the whole point of this post, eh?

      • Right …. It very well could just be Safeway that is inflating the price that high but when I looked up prices online I couldn’t find anywhere that sold it for more than $10…

  • Is this for the Safeway “Buy one get the second for 10 cents” deal? Because they jack the prices almost double for one bottle to make it seem like it’s a deal. Total crap, if you ask me.

  • I’ve not been impressed with Safeway since it opened. I mean, what grocery store doesn’t carry Total Raisin Bran?!

  • I have to applaud the use of the word “malfeasance” in the thread title.

  • When we haven’t stocked at Trader Joes we Go to Yes! Organic, which is only a block down from Safeway. They have some great deals, and some added deals on Wednesday or Thursday nights ( I can’t remember which).
    As to Safeway prices, just try what’s on sale.

  • I noticed this months ago. Alamos was generally $10-11. When they have the buy one get one for .10 deal they basically double the price of the wines first. It’s total bullshit and I’ve wondered if it was legal for a long time.

  • Not that I’m a lush… but I know this wine well. The Safeway price is beyond obscene. That’s a straight slap in the face. TJ’s is much closer to what that wine should be. Run from Safeway and never look back. #highwayrobbery

  • This wine is $6.96 at The DC Costco.

  • Even when their wine is on ‘sale’ it’s still not as cheap as elsewhere. I only buy at this Safeway if I’m incredibly desperate. The wines at YES! down the street are more reasonably priced.

  • Go to lions fine wines on Georgia. Problem solved.

  • Side Note: World Market has decent wines at good prices – particularly if you join their Explorer Program which discounts 4+ bottle purchases. 🙂

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