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.