Save the... Safeway?

South End Residents Fight to Keep Their Grocery Store


No car? Guess what else Safeway and Amazon Fresh do - they DELIVER.
A massive Safeway in Mount Baker and/or Seward Park? That doesn't make any sense. Just where would these colossal stores be?

While Seward Park has a tiny shopping district (including a former Safeway, which is now a PCC) Mt Baker has absolutely no shopping district.

Plus, the gigantic Rainier Avenue Safeway is pretty much the only game in town in that area. Why would they compete against themselves?
The Othello Safeway is right there by New Holly - the new-and-improved Holly Park Project.

While most of the former residents of the "projects" moved away because they couldn't afford to/didn't want to live in the new development, they have been replaced by a whole new community of lower-income families.

There are also a very large number of Somali immigrants now in this neighborhood, who too find it difficult to make ends meet.

Many of the people in these communities don't have vehicles, and can't afford to. And I don't know when the last time anybody here took the buses through this area might have been, but Metro is not really a viable option. Only two routes service this area, both of which have a history of violence both on the buses themselves and at neighborhood stops.

While Rainier Beach and Genesee may only be a few miles away, they might as well be in Siberia to these people. Having a store right here in their own neighborhood is truly a necessity.

Safeway as a company should be ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES for allowing the Othello store to operate in its current condition. I don't think people in Seattle proper can quite appreciate how bad it really is. The "quality" of the groceries stores in South Seattle is appalling. They tend to be somewhat unclean to downright filthy. Selection of product is extremely limited. The produce is often of atrociously poor quality. That being said, the Othello Safeway trumps them all. I can't even bring myself to eat the food from there.

Safeway should bow out and allow a more responsible to chain to move in.
Pinehurst is affluent? When do we get sidewalks, then?

First off, KUDOS for this article. I used to work for Safeway in California, so I know what South Seattle is up against. Safeway's main income, believe it or not, is from REAL ESTATE, not grocery sales. They buy up tons of land in developing areas/neighborhoods and then build their stores and rent out the retail shops around them, all the while dictating what goes where. Based on your article, they are still doing just that. I have written to the President and CEO of Safeway (Steve Burd) about this store and will let you know if I hear anything back. Those of you who are interested in emailing him as well, his address is Good luck!
Building NEW Safeways in Mt. Baker and Seward Park?! They already hold deed restrictions on the giant empty ex-Longs next to their Rainier Ave Safeway, the ex-Safeway bldg at Rainier and Genessee, and the ex-Tradewells-Columbia Market in Columbia City. Not to mention almost every other ex-supermarket site in RV. The Othello store is as bad as described, the two other would never be acceptable in a North Seattle or suburban neighborhood. The city needs to step in to block these leeches and encourage the development of other groceries in the RV. The Rainier Ave QFC is not the nicest QFC, but there's no visible rodent feces.

The two best stores in RV are Viet Wah and Beacon Hill Red Apple. Not fancy yuppie foodie stores, but good produce and wide ranges of Asian and Mexican foods. The employees, esp at Red Apple, have worked for years at the stores and live in the community. Support these businesses that treat their communities with respect.
@1 - Yes, they do, for a fee (after the initial delivery). You are also assuming that everyone in Southeast Seattle has internet access and is proficient enough with both computers and English to make this a viable alternative.

It isn't.

The Beacon Hill Red Apple is vastly improved from when I first moved to the neighborhood. It used to have a truly skanky meat section, but now they have a very nice butcher who cares about her work, and is happy to speak to customers. Their produce is vastly improved as well.

There is also the PCC in Seward Park, which is really quite pleasant, if a bit cramped.

To be fair, QFC opened a very nice store at Rainier Beach, which had a great Kosher section. However, the neighborhood could not support it (to put it very nicely) and they soon gave up on it.

The Rainier Avenue QFC isn't bad. It's certainly as nice as most anything you'd find in the North end. The Rainier Safeways aren't that bad either. If you want to see skankier ones, see the Roosevelt and Crown Hill stores.
Scott Iverson: Your description of the neighborhood ghettoizes NewHolly a little. Although there is nothing wrong with low income residents, you make it sound like there aren't any homeowners making median level income or above. There are plenty. Many of us moved to the neighborhood because we were excited about the socially and economically diverse community, the goals of the new neighborhood, and the chance to live near light rail in a walkable community. The neighbors (both low and average income neighbors) are invested in the community and trying to make it the best it can be.

The staff at the Othello Safeway are quite pleasant, and do the best that they can. Although many of you are correct that there's other grocery competition in the area, I only drive to the other stores if I need something special that the Othello store doesn't carry (for example, their cheese selection is really lacking). Many of my neighbors are the same. When the new apartment buildings open up, the market will be even more viable. A good store could be profitable without threatening the revenue of other stores. It's pretty clear to me that Safeway wants to have bad numbers for that store so that they have a reason to ditch it and sell the property.

The City can't make the store renovate and can't prevent Safeway from selling the property with a deed restriction. The best the City can do is "trade" permit approvals for other locations on the condition that Safeway do something to help keep the Othello neighborhood walkable.

Like many other neighbors, I'm not necessarily loyal to Safeway. I've written to Trader Joes, PCC, etc., asking them to build in the Othello area, but have never heard back (maybe the neighborhood isn't gentrified enough). With the potential for deed restrictions, I think our best chance for a grocery store within walking distance would be if Safeway renovated.
How is it that a deed restriction cannot be nullified by legal action, especially when there is a clear case of harm to the public interest in allowing a company to dictate what can be built on the property after it is sold. Safeway has been doing this for years in the RV to disastrous effect to the people that live here. Perfectly viable properties, in terms of size and layout, are rendered off limits for basic services that are sort of necessary, as in, we all have to eat, right? If Safeway can't compete on terms of quality and service, the capitalism way, they should just sell and get out, no deed restrictions period. Safeway lost my business years and years ago. Now for a hilarious description of the Othello Safeway, see this post:
I've been in RV so long I remember the Safeway in Columbia City.
To all of you Safeway haters : please realize that AT LEAST THEY SERVE RAINIER VALLEY.

Who knows anything about a new Mt Baker store? Will it replace the one in Mt Baker now? (at Andover and Rainier).

I think if the city spent less time working on taking away private property, and more time helping corporations like Safeway with modern business planning designed to coordinate transit and housing development, quite a few concerns would be dealt with..
keep in mind the Safeway does choose to do business in RV, which is more than most Seattle based business's are willing to do.
Most refuse to open shop south of Montlake, or Jackson St. Thats the way it is, and all of the Safeway haters are not going to change that.

And it is revenue, not demographics that drive business decisions. Viet Wah is a nice sized store with good selection. Its located not far from the Mt baker Safeway.
This Safeway is within walking distance of our house. However, it is so filthy and understocked, that I really wonder about its product - how long has it been sitting there? What creatures are crawling all over those shelves? And I've never gotten to the point where I know the staff. It depresses me to even enter.

Honestly, it's the worst grocery store I've ever been in. It is so bad, I refuse to shop at any of the Safeways in the SE, preferring the Viet Wah (and its special smell) or we make a field trip out of buying groceries, and drive north to the Mt Baker QFC, or all the way out west to stores in West Seattle or Burien. Sometimes just for kicks, we go to lower QA. Once you're in your car, you can go anywhere.

Please Safeway, listen up. The people you say don't exist are shunning your stores for the competition. We'd love it if you'd start by steam-cleaning the Othello store and updating it for the current century. Now that I know Pinehurst is getting a "green" Safeway, I want one of those!!
US retailer Safeway Inc. has reported net income of US$173.5m ($0.39 per diluted share) for the fourth quarter to the end of December, 2005, against $202.7m ($0.45 per diluted share) for the corresponding quarter of 2004.
For more information on Safeway Share Price visit…
Deed restrictions sure sound like Restraint Of Trade to me. Didn't that used to be a crime?

And also keep in mind, Link light rail will stop right in front of the Beacon Hill Red Apple, a short 10-minute train ride from Othello Station.

There ARE alternatives, even for the transit dependent.
Something to think about, does Amazon Fresh or Even Safeway Accept Food Stamps or the Debit Card online?
I don't blame Safeway for not putting more money into a store that's not making money as it is... it's already up for sale. Why put in a bakery, with more expensive homemade items and a sandwich line ($6 each) which calls for paying more workers to staff it? Doesn't make sense.

Safeway has always been my favorite grocery store--they need to pay some attention to that huge QFC on Queen Anne with the horrible selection and rude, vacant workers.
Is that SAARS store still down there? I haven't been that far south in a while, but it used to be right on the corner of Rainier and Henderson, next to the Rite Aid. I think you would consider it a full-service grocery store ...
Merry & Tim S: damm right - thank you for poking the obvious hole in Dsnuts's blind "elityst" BS bubble.

Beacon Hill guy: decent point, but we shouldn't we have, or certainly desire, a city where zoning is smart enough that you can walk, in your CITY, to major more-than-once-a-week services? Smart zoning is what keeps a factory spewing bad smells from becoming your next nextdoor neighbor.
LOL at Pinehurst sidewalks comment. hehehee Any 'hood sans sidewalk is sooo unincorporated King County in my book.
My two bits: safeway wants to close, then fine. Safeway wants to keep deed restrictions active on a site they aren't occupying? Hells no. If we're going to let that sort of crap go on, then we might as well sell the entire RV to Renton and put a sign up saying "Welcome to Seattle, give us your rich, your affluent, your SPF 55 suburbanite values" and be done with it.

What? What are you talking about? Having to drive to everything is a method of exerting caste-sytem-like social status on everyone, and gives you somewhere to show off your car. Let's put all the retail in one clump and let the residential sprawl for miles. I'm sure traffic won't suffer. Just look at my fair city...