Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

‘Ghetto Safeway’ gets elegant face-lift

As every Whitman student knows by now, the Rose St. Safeway has a new look. Old yellowing linoleum has been replaced, the outside has acquired some sort of weird stone block look and Starbucks, of all things, has been added to the entry way.

The remodel of “ghetto” Safeway makes the whole store much brighter and cleaner. Not all areas were fixed up equally, though, and besides just a new look the product mix has changed in small and interesting ways.

One of the most obvious changes is the increase in the size of the deli and prepared food section. Besides just expanding both departments, there is additional seating around the deli inside and outside the store. So far, I have only seen employees smoking out at those tables and benches, but I would not be surprised if warmer weather brings many people, including Whitman students, out there for their lunch break.

You can also see a big change in the way Safeway markets the food at the deli. Nicer packaging with bright images that evoke more of a home cooked, sit-down meal, while still being a take-out item, makes you feel a lot better about the fact that you are bringing home ready-made grocery store food for dinner instead of cooking one yourself. In addition, the mix has become more varied in the way of soups and salads, giving it a more upper class deli kind of feel, almost Merchants-esque.

With these additions, plus the Starbucks, the entire front half of the store looks a lot more like a restaurant than a grocery store, which is probably what the architects were going for. Fewer people cook, and so the market for ready to eat foods is something that grocery stores are ready to tap into. Especially in Walla Walla where most of the lunch spots are either fast food or ultra-expensive, there is likely a good niche to be filled by adding more deli. Also, when going to shop for dinner ingredients, who would not be tempted to buy something ready to eat rather than go through all the trouble to take the raw materials home to assemble a meal?

As far as the product mix goes, the store has certainly moved in more of a “bourgeois” direction than its former “proletariat” fare (as some pretentious Whitman students used to refer to it). More of the Safeway “O” organic brands are present, as well as other packaged natural and organic foods. This is most obvious in the grocery and frozen foods section. Overall the selection of products hasn’t been expanded much, just the price tag.

Though spiffed up, the produce, dairy and meat areas: where little exists in the way of ready to eat and shiny plastic: is a little less important. The product mix has not changed much. The organic section in produce still leaves a lot to be desired and is mostly relegated to the margins. So those that do pass by the deli section to buy their fresh foods to cook at home have the same sorts of choices to make as they did in November.

The remodel of Rose Street Safeway certainly leaves a nicer impression than the old dingy one. The end result is likely most of the same foods in nicer packaging and at higher prices. It seems that “ghetto” Safeway finally realized that it wasn’t really in much of a ghetto, but actually only a few blocks away from an expensive liberal arts college.

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