Did Safeway ever operate in Minnesota?

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Andrew T.
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Did Safeway ever operate in Minnesota?

Post by Andrew T. »

For over 90 years, Safeway has maintained a presence north of Minnesota through its Canadian division in Manitoba and northwest Ontario. Safeway also once operated due south of Minnesota, in Iowa. Yet, has Safeway ever operated a store in Minnesota? It seems odd that they haven't.

This winter, I combed through Minneapolis city directories back to 1920. There was no trace in them of Safeway, so it's indubitable that they left the state's biggest city untouched.

They certainly were never in Moorhead or Brainerd (take that, Jerry Lundegaard!), and I highly doubt they could have ever been in Duluth.

But it's vaguely plausible that they could have briefly operated in small cities close to the Iowa border: Worthington, Fairmont, Albert Lea, Austin; places like that.

Any thoughts? Or better yet, any research?
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
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rich
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Re: Did Safeway ever operate in Minnesota?

Post by rich »

If you have access to old Moody's Industrial Manuals, they usually broke chains down into state by state store totals and in some years, Safeway was broken down by division.
pseudo3d
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Re: Did Safeway ever operate in Minnesota?

Post by pseudo3d »

Andrew T. wrote: 28 Feb 2020 02:34 For over 90 years, Safeway has maintained a presence north of Minnesota through its Canadian division in Manitoba and northwest Ontario. Safeway also once operated due south of Minnesota, in Iowa. Yet, has Safeway ever operated a store in Minnesota? It seems odd that they haven't.

This winter, I combed through Minneapolis city directories back to 1920. There was no trace in them of Safeway, so it's indubitable that they left the state's biggest city untouched.

They certainly were never in Moorhead or Brainerd (take that, Jerry Lundegaard!), and I highly doubt they could have ever been in Duluth.

But it's vaguely plausible that they could have briefly operated in small cities close to the Iowa border: Worthington, Fairmont, Albert Lea, Austin; places like that.

Any thoughts? Or better yet, any research?
Safeway's peak of operations was in the late 1960s/early 1970s, and if the Dallas division is any hint, they generally didn't enter the smallest towns, so there was one in Bryan (TX), but not Hearne (despite a somewhat a somewhat Marina-like store that ultimately belonged to another grocer), or one in San Marcos, but not Bastrop. Of course, even that is an inexact science, the stores in places like Brenham and Huntsville stayed up until the division was spun off plus some, with even Bastrop, Louisiana getting one...and this is only known due to an online lawsuit where the store was sued after an almost-blind octogenarian slipped on a fallen grape.
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Andrew T.
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Re: Did Safeway ever operate in Minnesota?

Post by Andrew T. »

Here is a map showing Safeway's trade area in Iowa in 1960. This doesn't solve the Minnesota mystery, but it does shed light on how the chain was developing their trade area in this part of the country:

https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/128562809/

Safeway operated as far north as Mason City, a scant half-hour drive from the Minnesota border. They also operated in towns as small as Creston (1960 pop. 7,667) and Red Oak (6,421)...places that make Bryan, Texas look big. Their presence in the state was bolstered by the 1958 acquisition of Thriftway; however, this was not their entrance and they were operating in western Iowa as early as 1928.

If I were to pick the Minnesota city ripest for being the home of a Safeway, Austin would be my choice. It was a city similar in size to Mason City, Iowa, and it was closer to Mason City on the map than Mason City was to other Iowa Safeway locations. Plus it's the home of Hormel, and I imagine they would have been happy having their products sold by as many supermarkets as possible!
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull
pseudo3d
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Re: Did Safeway ever operate in Minnesota?

Post by pseudo3d »

Andrew T. wrote: 07 Mar 2020 19:15 Here is a map showing Safeway's trade area in Iowa in 1960. This doesn't solve the Minnesota mystery, but it does shed light on how the chain was developing their trade area in this part of the country:

https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/128562809/

Safeway operated as far north as Mason City, a scant half-hour drive from the Minnesota border. They also operated in towns as small as Creston (1960 pop. 7,667) and Red Oak (6,421)...places that make Bryan, Texas look big. Their presence in the state was bolstered by the 1958 acquisition of Thriftway; however, this was not their entrance and they were operating in western Iowa as early as 1928.

If I were to pick the Minnesota city ripest for being the home of a Safeway, Austin would be my choice. It was a city similar in size to Mason City, Iowa, and it was closer to Mason City on the map than Mason City was to other Iowa Safeway locations. Plus it's the home of Hormel, and I imagine they would have been happy having their products sold by as many supermarkets as possible!
I did a bit of research and found that the Iowa stores were part of the Omaha division, which meant places like Mason City would have been the outcroppings of that division (note that almost no stores exist toward Chicagoland/eastern Iowa, where Jewel-Osco's lone Iowa store is these days). It was also one of the very first divisions to go* (in 1983), with the stores being dismantled to Fareway (not to be confused with Fairway Market) or Hy-Vee. It stands to reason that when it was sold off, Safeway didn't see it as a valuable market and it hadn't had substantial construction in years (Washington Post mentions the chain was closed as "profits were off, market growth was nil and new competition a threat"). So if Safeway built a store in Minnesota, it would've been mentioned when the Omaha division was dismantled, UNLESS it was a massive failure, and such a closure probably would've made some sort of headlines.


* if you don't count the New York division or other divisions merged over the years
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