Safeway 1986 & Unsettling Times Eastern Division

Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

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Safeway 1986 & Unsettling Times Eastern Division

Post by explorersea »

Attached is a picture of Eastern Division area Safeway store and employees I found from a UFCW (union) publication in my files from 1986. It was an anxious time for Safeway as they blocked a hostile take over by the Dart Group and liquidated property and whole Divisions to pay KKR to buy them. The Eastern Division was discussed as possibly a candidate to be sold off as it was not necessarily very profitable and had high labor costs. The store pictured is a typical early 1980s build when construction budgets were tight. The walls were predominately prefab concrete, a store didn't necessarily receive a service Deli or Fish counter. Back rooms, Fridges and Freezers were smaller. There were two entry doors into the store but people funneled through one channel in front of the checkstands to help with controlling shop lifting.
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Re: Safeway 1986 & Unsettling Times Eastern Division

Post by pseudo3d »

Didn't the Safeway "Eastern Division" not really happen until after the sell-offs? I seem to recall there was a separate Virginia division that was mostly sold off and merged in with the Washington DC Division.
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Re: Safeway 1986 & Unsettling Times Eastern Division

Post by rich »

I think Richmond was a separate division. i don't know about Hampton Roads. I think the South Central PA stores were run as part of the DC division.
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Re: Safeway 1986 & Unsettling Times Eastern Division

Post by klkla »

This article from March 5th 1987 has some information about this.

"Bradford said Safeway has no plans to sell six divisions: Southern California, Northern California, Phoenix, Seattle, Portland, Ore. and Washington, D.C. But the remaining eight divisions--Dallas, Houston, El Paso, Denver, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Ark. and Richmond, Va.--are all under scrutiny because of comparatively high labor costs, he said."

In the end they did end up selling Southern California and keeping Denver. ... story.html
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Re: Safeway 1986 & Unsettling Times Eastern Division

Post by 172pilot »

I know this is an OLD thread, but in case this helps.. I started working @ Safeway in Maryland (Store 957 in Cloverly) in May 1985. Shortly after starting there is when all the drama began with the hostile takeover. I remember being a high school kid and not understanding any of it.. but then they sold off a bunch of stores that had just been opened in Delaware and the Eastern shore of Maryland. In about 1987 I ended up moving to the Eastern Division offices, working first on the helpdesk and then as the "PC Coordinator" for the main office, and I remember for a while after the buyout by KKR was done, we were outfitting new stores with "hand me down" registers pulled from the stores we had closed instead of buying new registers because money was so tight. I specifically remember when we opened the Hillandale store (Number escapes me), it was a hodgepodge of old registers out of storage instead of the new registers we would usually put into new stores. In fact, the store I started out in still had mechanical sweda registers when I got there, and when we got scanners, we got hand-me-down 3683 registers from a store which had been upgraded to 4680 before the buyout threat.. When I worked at the helpdesk, I remember we had right at 150-155 stores in the division, and it did include the Richmond, VA stores which I believe had previously been a division of their own. I remember everyone seeming like they were treated as the "stepchildren" because of that, and I never understood that either, not having been there when they were separate. By the time I left Safeway in '94, the Eastern division was very much growing again, and the company was doing well.
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Re: Safeway 1986 & Unsettling Times Eastern Division

Post by TheQuestioner »

Interesting to hear your perspective as someone just starting with the company at that time. I was just a kid then, but I do remember that Safeway in general in the late 70s and early 80s seemed more run-down and behind-the-times than Giant-Landover, which was kind of the flagship grocery chain in the DC region. I did like the look of the "Marina stores" but they often seemed cramped and the produce section always had a bit of that rotting vegetable smell that a lot of older/independent grocers seems to have back then.

I also remember the current Hillandale store was originally a large Grand Union with huge tall front-facing glass windows. The Safeway used to be in a small outbuilding int he parking lot, but that became "Price Chopper" or something like that, a sub-brand Safeway used to older stores that they converted to "discount markets". Eventually the Grand Union became Basics and then was heavily renovated into the Hillandale store we know today. I'd guess it was around 86-87 that this happened? I also remember newly-built Safeways starting to look "fancier" around 88-89, which I guess coincided with them getting their financial house in order and deciding to build larger and more modern stores.
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