City Desk

Columbia Road NW Safeway: Some Thoughts


I am biased against the Safeway on Columbia Road NW. I respectfully disagree with my former colleague Jule Banville, who wrote a stirring defense of this store; I have never forgiven the store for only de-grubbing itself once Harris Teeter moved in nearby. Because the Safeway near me, in Alexandria? It's delightful! But the one on Columbia Road NW, it's like it was punishing people for shopping there. One time I had to dig an onion out of the little recess in the produce stand where they used to keep the twist ties. And God forbid you should need a sandwich; the counter folks always seemed surprised anyone would take Safeway up on its offer to make them. And the prices sucked, too!

These are problems you fix because you want your store to be good, not because a nicer store moves in nearby. So ANYWAY today I needed fruit and pretzels, and I decided to throw caution to the wind and turn left instead of right when I left the office. Here is my report.

ITEM: Bananas. 39 cents a pound with the Club Card. That's a good deal. But they were all pretty unripe! I got two more-yellow-than-green ones, and one was mushy when I ate it.

ITEM: Apples. Why are farmers markets cheaper than grocery stores when it comes to apples? Twin Springs Fruit Farm at the Arlington Farmers Market is still knocking my socks off with winesaps and mutsus for $1.99/lb. They are never mushy. Today I got a Michigan gala for the same price for $1.50/lb (Club Card price) and I will be surprised if it rises above "adequate." This situation would be the same at Harris Teeter. I don't like to buy apples at grocery stores.

ITEM: Pretzels. The Columbia Road NW Safeway is small and cannot devote an aisle to snacks, which is fair enough, but I could not find my favorite pretzels, which are Rold Gold Honey Wheat Braided Twists. These are perpetually on sale at Harris Teeter for $2.50 a bag. In a way, I guess, Safeway saved me money on this one.

ITEM: Self-checkout. An off-duty employee blew past me in line to use the self-checkout a friend was finishing up on. This has happened to me before at the Teet.

CONCLUSION: I think I will keep walking to Harris Teeter, even though it's more of a hike.

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  • Ward 4 Resident/Voter

    Andrew I concur with your comment about Safeway. I haven't been to the one on Colombia Road, NW in years, but I visit the one on Piney Branch Road, NW and Georgia Avenue, NW. They have a serious rodent problem, the lines are always long, and the customer service sucks. I sometimes visit the Safeway on Davenport Street, NW and the lines there are always long. I reported it to the manager and he seem not to give a dam. I recently visited the Safeway on Fenton Street in Silver Spring last Saturday during the snow fall. I wanted something from the Deli and I had stood waiting for my turn to be waited on. A nasty looking male in appearance ignored me and went to wait on another customer. After I complained, I was there frist, he came over to me later with an attitude. I told him to forget about it and I reported him to the manager. I get good service at the Safeway out in Arundel Mills. I prefer shopping at the Gaint in Blair Park in downtown Silver Spring, because they have plenty of self service registers and the employees greet you by saying hi. I like Whole Foods and Harris Teeter too, but their prices are too high/expensive.

  • Rick Mangus

    You think the Columbia Road, NW Safeway is BAD!, come down and try the Safeway at 17th and Corcorn, NW. First off it goes by another name, 'The Soviet Safeway', if you're Russian and long for the good old days of the Soviet Union with empty shelves, bad service, and that smell of sour milk in the back of the store than Comrade, you have come home again.

    Not only the problems above but problem trying to get down the narrow isles with rude people in the way talking on their cell phones thinking that they are important and impressing someone.

    Being in the store this past Friday evening was a trip in itself, people who live a block away and can walk, panic buying before the snow storm like they lived out in Bumfuck, West Virginia.

    So count your blessing Adams Morgan, it can be worst!

  • Erika Niedowski

    I know where your pretzels are. I will show you, if you agree to ever go inside again.

  • Brooke Hatfield

    you use that weird huge rollerball mouse? you do not deserve pretzels.

  • Manor

    Its sad how bad Safeway is in DC, but keep in mind they have almost zero competition. They can do whatever they want as bad as they want and each will still have a captive clientele of 80,000+++ people, many paying with those sweet federally guaranteed WIC coupons. DC government won't do health inspections on them (I tried for years and gave up) as there really is no alternative. I treat myself to a drive into MD for my grocery shopping, the time it takes to drive is what I would spend in line in DC, possibly being insulted/assaulted by Safeway staff or dodging by mice. So sad, I cannot wait to get out of DC.

  • Rick Mangus

    Don't forget people of Washington our dumb ass mayor and city council have forced on us a 5 cent per bag tax on every bag, either paper or plastic starting this January.

    So bend over and enjoy the view, you all keep voting these morons beck into office.

  • Fred

    The bag tax is a good thing.

    I try to avoid Longway whenever possible, and now with hugely better alternatives like WF (there ARE bargains to be had) and Harris Teeter in addition to some neighborhood places, I can. But I did go recently just to see the new store. To me it was much improved. Are people still seeing rodents, after the redesign?

    Lowered lights, ahhhh....

    (Someone should alert Safeway PR reps about this blog entry)

  • Rick Mangus


  • Comrade Al Gonzales

    A bag tax is great b/c the government should take 99% of the money earned by douche bags & then give each of them a $50 weekly allowance, to live on day-by-day for the week. The government will take your money, all of it, & you'll get $50 a week for the rest of your life.

    Everything will be free. Free bus, free food, free everything but cars, porn, & drugs - which will be priced fairly, i.e., 10% of today's cost, but just not free.

    It's better than letting these un-evolved scoundrels waste their money on gasoline,lotto tickets, $5 coffees, & super-sized french fries.

    Deal with it. Communism is the future.

  • Ward 4 Resident/Voter

    Rick Mangus, I agree with you, the 5 cents charge on bags starting January is bullshit. Liberal Wards 3 and 6 D.C. Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Tommy Wells came up with this bullshit policy. I don't throw litter into the Anacostia River and I don't live no where near there. Fenty and the 13 left wing liberal D.C. Councilmembers are taxing us to death to live in this city.

  • Fred

    It's a good thing, you will see.

  • Rick Mangus

    Come on 'Fred', it's not a hard question, WHY!

  • downtown rez

    A full bag of grocieries costs me (depending on what's in the bag) between $20 and $100. That works out to a tax of between one fiftieth and one quarter of one penny for every dollar I will spend on food- if I don't bring my own bags. To put it another way, if you shop like I do, and if you don't bring your own bags, you'll buy between $400 and $2000 dollars of food before you pay even $1 of this tax.

  • Rick Mangus

    The problem with this tax is, one, if there was a public hearing on this tax, it sure in hell was a secret one. I keep a close look at what goes on in the city government and I sure in hell did not know about this tax or any hearings on it. Two, this smoke screen about helping clean-up the Anacostia, why tax the majority of the hard working people of this city and not the people who own boats on the Anocostia or Potomac or the businesses on these rivers. Three what about people on food stamps or the elderly on a fix income?

    These DEMOCRATS in this town are arogran, self serving son of a bitches, who think that you and me do not know what is good for us or the city. Maybe there is some truth in this, because the people of DC keep voting these pricks back into office like mindless automatons.

    Like I have said before in this paper, this money will be used in some pet project or to close a budget gap.

    I feel that there are good grounds for a class action law suit putting a stop to this tax, the madness and to put this city government on notice! Maybe it's worth looking into!

    You all cry "Taxation Without Representation" well now here is you're chance!

  • Anonymous

    If you bring your own bags--plastic or paper--or you buy or make reusable bags, then you won't be paying any tax.

    Get a grip, people.

  • cminus

    The problem with this tax is, one, if there was a public hearing on this tax, it sure in hell was a secret one.

    You're kidding, right?

    I remember seeing notices of the hearing at the Post, Loose Lips, and Greater Greater Washington. And then there were the robocalls from the plastics industry drumming up opposition. (I got three. Only Michael Brown was more prolific.) According to the committee report, the hearing went on for more than seven hours, and over 70 people appeared to testify.

    Frankly, it seemed at the time that the only way to avoid hearing about the hearing was to close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears, and sing the national anthem at the top of your lungs. God knows I was tempted.

  • Ward 4 Resident/Voter

    Rick Mangus, take a break from the BS on the City Paper on come over to the Washington Post and voice your opinion on other bleeding heart story about dam illegal aliens.

  • J

    Come on people- no mention of "sexy" safeway? Its the one over in the City Vista- actually touted as the "Urban Lifestyle" safeway by the company itself.

    Anyone go to the awful one in Rosslyn? Now thats as bad as it gets. Its always a snow day there as the lines are long, I can NEVER find a cart, and the employees are disgruntled.

  • Ward 4 Resident/Voter

    J, I am beginning to think, most the employees at Safeway are disgruntled. Don't visit the Safeway on Fenton Street in Silver Spring, I had a run in with a fat nasty looking guy in the Deli section. He was a surly son of a bitch.

  • Rick Mangus

    'Anonymous', you're the one that needs to get a grip, are you going to pay this bag tax for people on food stamps and people on fixed income? You and your tax and spend democrats in this city need to wake-up

    'Cminus' i am not kidding, and I still did not know about these hearings or else I would have been there!


    PS, You all allowed it!

  • Fred

    OMG, news of the bag tax legislation, hearing, markup was truly everywhere. I corresponded a lot about the legis with Graham. A lot. I agree with cminus. I'm not going to rehash this whole thing again - i've gone over it too many times. The entry was about Safeway, afterall.

  • Keith

    Safeway's locations in the city seem more run down because they are much older because Safeway, and to a lesser extent, Giant were doing business in DC long before pampered Hipsters started to move into the city. Now that you guys are here, Whole Paychecks and Teeter can move into newly built stores in NW DC.
    Safeway has a long way to go in bringing quality up, but you gotta give them credit for serving the city in bad times and good times.
    By the way, when is Whole Foods opening a store in Anacostia? Hmmm...

  • Rick Mangus

    'Fred' you still have not given me an answer from before so here it is again, why is this tax a GOOD THING?

  • aoi

    They stopped selling their store-branded diet root beer.

    What gives?

    It's bad enough Whole Foods doesn't sell diet soda because it does meet their purity test.

    Now, Safeway is forcing me to buy their overpriced A&W. Oh, yeah, I really love the "buy 3" 12 packs and save. Considering that many customers walk to the store ...

    Safeway, you suck.