Sammamish Safeway Grand Re-Opening
With the merger of Albertson’s and Safeway grocery chains last year, the huge company, with over 2,000 stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia, seemed distant to the local shoppers who often asked how the merger was affecting the favorite store staff. The top of the press release read:
BOISE, Idaho and PLEASANTON, Calif., Jan. 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — AB Acquisition LLC and Safeway Inc. (NYSE: SWY, “Safeway”) announced today that they have completed their proposed merger. Under the terms of the merger agreement first announced and unanimously approved by Safeway’s Board of Directors in March 2014, AB Acquisition LLC, the owner of Albertson’s LLC and New Albertson’s, Inc. (collectively “Albertsons”), will acquire all outstanding shares of Safeway. AB Acquisition is controlled by an investor group led by Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. (“Cerberus”), which also includes Kimco Realty Corporation (NYSE: KIM), Klaff Realty LP, Lubert-Adler Partners LP, and Schottenstein Stores Corporation.
I want to get past all of that stilted language, because yesterday my local Safeway here in Sammamish, Washington, delivered a Grand Re-Opening after several months of remodeling. Although a few of the “corporate” brass attended, this was a celebration for the store leads, the staff, the customers and store management. It was hyperlocal, which is a good strategic choice for the grocery behemoth. Having a national brand offers great advantages for scale and supply chain optimization, but those don’t keep customers coming back. Strong staff, having the right offers and stock for customers, and being part of the community create balance between size and connection.
It was nice to start the morning with a positive event. The Eastlake High School band played in front the Wells Fargo in-store bank, just to the side of the citrus display. Sammamish Mayor Don Gerend reminisced about the days when the old Sadler’s Store on 228th was the only place to shop on the Sammamish Plateau — if you needed Safeway, you had to “go down into the valley.”
After bestowing honorary Chamber of Commerce member status on store manager, Scott Wahl, as Gerend cut the ribbon, Sammamish Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Deb Sogge announced the official reopening of the store.
Then we had cake.
It would be great if other large companies could find more ways to put the local back into their strategy. Sure, they give money, as Safeway did at the event to Eastlake High School, and to the Cascade Girls Basketball Tournament, but this happening was beyond gesture. It was personal for people like me who probably spend way too much time in the store, picking up last minute items because we fail to plan meals far enough ahead. Wahl was clearly very proud of his staff and his store, and I think the community was pretty proud of them as well.
Enjoy a few pictures of the fun event. More photos on the Sammamish Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.