Friday, May 27, 2016

Out With the Albertsons, In With the Safeway (In Largo)

Safeway #4402
10500 Ulmerton Road, Largo, FL - Largo Mall

     Jumping over to Tampa Bay now for a quick look at the new Largo Safeway. This mini-post is brought to us by our longtime Largo remodel contributors Ross T. and Dave M. These first 7 pictures are the ones sent in by Ross, and will be followed by the ones sent in by Dave. Ross's pictures are from earlier this week. The Safeway signage was installed around that time revealing the final product.

    Close-up of the new Safeway sign.

      Liquor and Pharmacy signage.

     As you can see here, and over at the Altamonte store as well, the right side entrances don't look to be getting any signage over them. Originally, there was a sign that said "Food" on this side of the building. It looks like Safeway is scrapping the "Food" sign at these stores, and only keeping the "Pharmacy" ones.

     While Ross was at this store, he saw the sign crew installing the new Safeway signs on the roadside pylon for Largo Mall. You can see the new Safeway sign going up in the above photo. However, some Albertsons signs had yet to be changed during his visit:

     The directory still says Albertsons...

     And so did the other roadside pylon. At least earlier this week it did. That's all changed now.

     Thanks Ross for sending in those pictures! Now for some more pictures from Dave:

     Dave sent in some night shots of the exterior of the Largo Safeway, taken either the night before the switch became official or the morning of the switch. This is what all of the signage looks like when it's illuminated.

     According to Dave: "This area is where they make fresh juice and infused water, bottled and labeled as Safeway. They even keep wheatgrass in the cold looks like sod. There is no Jamba Juice signage or labels to be seen. There are "smoothie machines" on the counter next to the juicer. I wonder if JJ signage etc. will come at a later date." According to a while back, Largo was supposed to be the only one of the three Florida Safeways to get a Jamba Juice, but as of now it looks like that's not the case.

    Another look at the road sign for Largo Mall, with the Safeway logo now completely installed. I think it would have been better to make the Safeway letters white on here instead of black, as the black is somewhat hard to read on the brick background.

     A picture of the top of Safeway's first Florida circular. Each of the three stores had their own special circular printed, although the only difference between each one was the map of the store location.

     The top of a Safeway receipt.

     Dave spotted this Safeway truck on I-275 recently. He had this interesting story to go along with it as well, which I would like to share with everyone: 

"Safeway trailer leaving St. Pete north on 275. The license plate on the trailer (which may mean nothing) was from Maryland.
Interesting story here: Largo has been running a huge 50% off (75% in frozen) sale on discontinued items for the last couple of months. The latest additions included current house brands. I asked a manager why current product was being discounted. They told me that they were switching warehouses. I asked if they were going to being served from a current Safeway trade area and they said they didn't know for sure. They did say that this was the 1st step of a larger plan for Safeway in FL...which we already kind of guessed." 

     I think that Maryland plate could potentially mean something. Safeway has a distribution center in Prince George's County, Maryland, which is probably where these three stores (or possibly more if the "larger plan for Safeway in FL" comes to fruition) are going to be supplied from, rather than the Safeway distribution center in Texas. Very interesting.
     So with that little piece of information I will conclude my series of mini-posts about the new Safeway stores. More Safeway coverage will be coming to the blog in July, when I will take everybody on an extensive tour of one of the three new stores. Thanks again Ross and Dave for sending in these pictures of the Largo store, and for the continuous coverage throughout the entire remodel process.

Until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger


  1. The Safeway trucks are definitely coming from the MD distribution center that was almost closed last year, and the TX distribution center lacks any trucks that say Safeway. I've seen Randalls trucks, Albertsons trucks, and Tom Thumb trucks in the vicinity, but never Safeway.

    The circular is a bit disappointing, there's no mention of a grand opening or even being in Florida. The other thing I'm a bit worried about is that the Safeway program doesn't have as deep a drug mix as Albertsons as (so I'm told).

    I'm thinking that despite officially being Safeway, the Grand Opening is yet to come. That's when the announcements will be made, and the newspapers reporting it.

    Finally, despite some nice stores, I just think that it will still struggle to compete with Publix based on it being "foreign" and not as well localized as Publix is. I think Albertsons gained a foothold in the Florida market to begin with by low prices and a wide merchandise selection (didn't the Skaggs stores offer things like bicycles?), which the "new" Safeway doesn't really have.

    At least this should help Houston with priorities, by rebuilding its base in Houston, strengthening its stores in Austin, reinforcing the stores in Louisiana, and (hopefully) building more. Maybe the gap between Houston and Lake Charles can close with new stores.

    1. This comment completely slipped by me...

      I'm still pretty convinced this is the beginning of something bigger for Albertsons/Safeway in Florida. I'm pretty sure they're planning some kind of expansion. What or how they would go about that is what I'm interested in seeing should it happen.

      The original Albertsons stores were pretty much mini-supercenters, with odd things like sporting goods, patio furniture, etc. It was essentially a smaller version of what Kroger Marketplace is today. From what I saw, Safeway is trying to go after the Northerners. Safeway had a large selection of regional northern brands that I rarely or never see around here, probably helped by the fact the stores are being supplied from Maryland. Honestly, pricing is what will make or break Safeway in the end more than anything. The last thing Florida needs is another high priced store, which is why Aldi, Save-A-Lot and Walmart are doing so well, and why Walmart is really pushing their Neighborhood Market stores down here more than ever. Safeway did try some localization with the Pan Cubano station in Oakland Park. Altamonte and Largo don't offer that, as those two stores aren't surrounded by nearly as large of a Hispanic demographic as Oakland Park is.

      I was hoping for a bit of a grand opening fanfare, but it seems like that didn't (or hasn't) happened yet. I don't know what they're waiting for if they want to do a grand opening.

    2. The fact that they have a large selection of regional northern brands is already problematic looking to me. It reminds me of Jewel-Osco's foray into Florida retailing, where they tried to make a really big store that was supposed to be good in Florida but also attracting northerners (according to an article they carried Hill Bros. coffee, which I thought was relatively common in the South until a quick search just now revealed it's not found in the South east of the Mississippi River).

      I think J/O's demise in Florida came at the wrong time, when American Stores was trying to pay down a debt load from Lucky Stores. During the same time, the other Southern (except New Mexico) J/O stores went away (the non-Florida ones were former Skaggs Albertsons), as well as the complete sales of Buttrey, Star Market, and Alpha Beta, as well as selling certain ACME and Osco Drug stores.

      They've poured so much money into it that they need to try to make it work with competitive pricing and a solid merchandise mix. They need to assign people to the Florida stores as well as, and it pains me to say this, a third party distribution partner for certain items. Otherwise, it's just another example of wasteful capital expenditure, like when Albertsons tried to open stores in Des Moines by buying three or four Super One Foods stores and converting them to full Albertsons stores, only to have them close within two years.

    3. Hopefully this doesn't end up like the Des Moines situation. Albertsons once had an agreement with Gordon Food to supply the last four stores from their old Plant City DC, so maybe they'll go back to them if they need distribution assistance, if they haven't already.

  2. From someone who works in this store and have also been going to this Albertsons since the late 90s I can't believe how much better this store looks. We had our grand opening on Saturday and it was pretty successful.

    1. I was there back in mid-May and I couldn't believe how nice the store looks now! I have a post on the (just about) finished product coming up on August 7th. I hope this remodel pays off for you!