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Those were the shelves yesterday afternoon at the not-long-for-this world Southwest Safeway, which is marking everything down 30 percent before it closes at 6 pm tomorrow. Ten days later, the store will re-open next door a few blocks away at 1100 4th St. S.W. with a “grand opening celebration.” The early intel says: Swanky! And only fitting for the retail anchor tenant of a brand-new development with over 1.1 million square feet of Class-A office space.
That’s not the only Safeway about to re-open in style (newbies, see the full D.C. Safeway typology here). “Save the Date” cards went out weeks ago for an “exclusive, invitation-only gala” on May 5th to celebrate the return of a “Washington D.C. legend”: the oh-so-genteel Social Safeway in Georgetown, where you can shop “right alongside the power brokers and members of Washington’s elite, who have been known to regularly frequent the store.” And then there’s the one in the new City Vista condominium, which bills itself as an “urban lifestyle Safeway.”
All of which seem worlds away from upper Rhode Island Ave., where Safeway shut down its store last month. According to the WaPo write-up, it was no less social than the Georgetown location, and its closure left many residents high and dry. Meanwhile, as Safeway doubled down in high-income areas, Yes! Organic Market is betting on Petworth and the still-marginal Pennsylvania Ave. S.E., and Giant’s Ward 8 location opened to much fanfare in 2007.
There’s an interesting historical subtext to this shift. Via the indispensable Dream City, in the 1960s, Giant Foods chairman Joseph Danzansky was among a handful of liberal Jewish businessmen who willingly worked with the emerging black leadership—he helped start a jobs program for unemployed teenagers, for example. During the 1967 riots, the Giant stores went untouched, while five Safeway locations were “reduced to rubble.”
Not that that necessarily has anything to do with Safeway’s 2010 upgrade strategy, of course.