Wednesday, November 29, 2023

In A Parallel Universe...

Safeway #3411

Chambers Creek

8611 Steilacoom Boulevard

Tacoma, WA 98498

Hello and welcome to The Albertsons Washington Blog!  I am your host, The Sing Oil Blogger, and today we are going to take the trek through a 1980's Albertsons Superstore to see how it has fared over the years.

Located in the city of Lakewood, this store is nestled in a commercial district between the historic Fort Steilacoom and Interstate 5.  The supermarket serves customers from several south Tacoma suburbs to the north of Joint Base Lewis-McChord but is primarily convenient for the western section of Lakewood and the waterside community of Steilacoom.  Unfortunately, the nearby Puget Sound doesn't boast quite the same white sandy beaches and warm water as the Gulf of Mexico; however, the scenery is still spectacular, nonetheless.

Albertsons originally announced the 42,000 sq ft "superstore" in 1983 as the first store in the Tacoma area following a 17-year absence for the company.  

Maybe I should write about more Albertsons stores because it isn't often I can feature supermarket ads with portable cassette players and VHS tapes!  This Albertsons officially opened its doors on February 15, 1984, as the perfect outing for lavishing lovebirds looking to seal the deal with a Dazey Foot Saver or distraught divorcees looking to settle things once and for all with a Silverstone frying pan.

The News Tribune ( - February 15, 1984

Just one page back, there is even a headline that reads, "Bounty on prostitutes hits snag in Legislature.  Witness claims pimps would retaliate against people who turned their hookers in to police."  I guess that goes to show that you never know what you'll uncover when reading old newspapers! 

I don't even want to attempt to guess what interior this store opened with since I'd guess it predates Blue & Gray Market, but the 2012 photo I found on Foursquare reminds me more of a Walmart than anything else.  I'm sure somebody reading this post will know though!

The News Tribune ( - March 8, 2015

On the other hand, big changes came about for this store in 2015 when it was announced that Albertsons would divest a number of locations as a condition of the pending Safeway merger.

"At an undisclosed price – Haggen is privately held and not required to disclose figures – the grocer with fewer than two dozen stores suddenly grew by a factor of eight with the purchase of 146 Safeway and Albertsons stores, and 106 pharmacies throughout the West.  The deal was precipitated by the merger of Albertsons and Safeway and it was approved in January by the Federal Trade Commission . . . The two-day conversions at each store will include changes both cosmetic and among the items offered for sale." - The News Tribune

This store was seemingly closed and converted to a Haggen between 3/12/2015-3/15/2015 shortly following the acquisition.  While I couldn't find any interior photos of the building between 2015 and 2016, the exterior indicates that some kind of conversion took place.  I still can't imagine a 3-day "remodel" producing any sort of drastic results (especially based on what I've seen from some of Publix' 6+ month conversions).   

Furthermore, having no personal experience with Haggen, the name always makes the think the place exclusively sells faux Danish ice cream.  I'll take some cookie dough, please!

The Olympian ( - November 11, 2015 - Page 2

Well, that didn't last long!  By September 2015, Haggen was drowning in blood from its own self-inflicted wounds and seemed to be at a loss as to what to do.  (I suppose not buying those 146 Safewaysons stores never came to mind for the company?)  The grocer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection that month which led to the fire sale of its new bounty of locations.

"Haggen is currently auctioning off 95 stores, 18 of which are in Washington.  Of those 18, five are in Pierce County and another is in Federal Way.  Among early bidders for those stores was Albertsons, which had entered bids on 36 stores." - The Olympian

Needless to say, this fiasco presumably turned out wonderfully for the newly combined Albertsons-Safeway.  Not only were the companies able to sell off stores at market value to allow the merger to go through, but they also got to buy them back Northwest Fresh outta bankruptcy for a discount several months later!  That sounds like a great business deal, and an easy way to clean up the books!

The Olympian ( - March 30, 2016

This location, along with the 28 remaining Haggen stores, was sold back to Albertsons just over a year after its conversion away from the Idaho brand.  While Albertsons promised to keep the Haggen name alive, it opted to convert 14 of the acquired locations to the Albertsons brand.

What really confuses me is how this store's banner was swapped away from Albertsons again in 2021.  For some odd reason, the powers that be determined it would be beneficial to remodel the Lakewood Albertsons into the Lakewood Safeway.  I guess they thought that since the same strategy was so successful in Florida, why not try it in the Northwest too!  Regardless, this marked the return of Safeway to this stretch of Steilacoom Boulevard as the company had vacated a building directly across the street a number of years prior.

As a recap, here is a rough timeline of this store's history:

Albertsons: 1984-2015

Haggen: 2015-2016

Albertsons: 2016-2021

Safeway: 2021-Present

 Now that we know a bit about the history of this store, let's take a look at it for ourselves!

Out front, we are greeted by a typical Albertsons sign post that now boasts the Safeway "S".  By this point, I'd hope anybody reading this blog could have caught this relic!

I'd like to draw our attention to the solid wall behind the stacks of bottled water.  I believe that was originally in the center of a split vestibule setup (similar to the slightly newer Albertsons here), before Albertsons reconfigured this store during an expansion. Now I wish I had seen a better angle of the pharmacy entrance to know for sure!  At least the street views seem to support my theory; just look at all that wasted space on the right side of the store.

As for the front of the signage, we find the typical Safeway pharmacy lettering and drive up logo, joined by the Starbucks emblem indicating what else we may find inside . . .

Poof.  Here we are.

Once inside, we find a scene that looks strikingly similar to what I've seen from the Albertsons Florida Blogger's run-ins with Safeway a few years ago.  I guess Safeway's "Modern" décor continues to live on despite being dead (or at least shanked by a giant Publix butcher knife) in The Sunshine State.

Turning to the left, we find the Starbucks counter located just in front of the checkout lines . . .

. . . which reminds me of a caffeinated controversy that was brewing at this store in 2004.  Back then, regulars were outraged by the decision to oust local barista Sandy Monsees, owner of the Columbia Café, in favor of an outpost of the Tully's Coffee chain.  The locals went so far as threatening to boycott the Albertsons if the grocer did not reverse its decision to evict Monsees.  I guess that goes to show that you shouldn't mess with Seattleites' coffee—there's a reason they are always sleepless!

It appears that Haggen was the one who added the Starbucks based on exterior signage in the Google Street Views, and the franchise has remained ever since.  I'm not sure what came of the Columbia Café controversy, but the Trenta latte fish ended up coming out on top in the end.

Continuing on, we find a display of nuts, berries, charcoal, and dragon fruit?  Something seems out of place here, and it ain't the cantaloupes!  Maybe they wanted to remind us of a familiar song:

Red berries roasting on an open fire

Dragon fruit nipping at your nose

Yuletide carols being sung by a cantaloupe

and folks dressed up like Safeway clerks

Everybody knows, a turkey and some watermelon

help to make the season bright

I generally like to cluster photos in roughly the same order I took them, but this Safeway's atypical grand aisle layout forced me to make some changes (just bear with me).  We'll quickly jump to the rear of the produce department for this nice overview shot before snaking our way back up front.  I appreciate how the designers at least opted to place a department sign above the produce cooler, even if it looks like the bottom part of the "E" was cut off.

In retrospect, I can't think of another store I've been to recently where the produce department is technically part of the grand aisle yet has a full row of shelving separating it from any service departments.  Some Harris Teeters and Publixes have a similar layout, yet they still leave plenty of open sightlines from the deli and bakery.

We're loyal to local, that's why we buy bananas from Guatemala.  Everything is just a matter of perspective!

As for the produce displays in this store, I appreciate how Safeway provided fixtures with integrated produce bags, twist ties (something I haven't seen in a Publix in over a decade), and a produce scale.  I just wish the company had gone the extra mile and left the cardboard boxes out of the picture.  They really detract from the otherwise upscale look (and what's the deal with Mt. Cardboard on the other side of the Panama Canal?  You better not leave those boxes out too long or else Kroger will scoop them up for its next decor package).

Turning around, I was a bit surprised to see how Safeway swapped from Dietz & Watson to Boar's Head at some point following this store's conversion.  At least we know that Winn-Dixie still has our backs.

Let's swing on by the delicatessen and pick up a pineapple along the way.  Those strawberries and containers of cut fruit seemed to be a hit as well!

Does that "ReadyMeals" branding look out of place to anybody?  I feel like it is something I would see in a cafeteria using low-budget signage from a food service vendor, namely due to how none of the design language melds with anything else in the shot.

I'm also intrigued by the fact that the strip lighting over these service departments gives way to fixtures inset into the dropped ceiling.

The baked goods continue along the right wall of the store and are separated from the produce department by some gondola shelving filled with bread. This department layout reminds me of something I've seen before . . . maybe Vero Beach?  It's also amazing how much the faux wood flooring does to dress up this space!

One striking difference from Die Rindfleischleute is how is how Safeway stores its coolers above cold juice rather than cold beer.  At least we can still find Florida's Natural here!

I'm also surprised by the selection of bulk foods we find, even if they aren't in bulk packaging.  Regardless, it seems odd that the juice is isolated from produce by these displays of chocolate covered pretzels and baked goods.  If I were to take a guess, I'd presume that the produce department was shifted from this corner at some point of this store's life—we'll see more supporting evidence in a bit.

Looking along the rear aisle, we find fresh meats along with some freshly-polished vinyl tile.  This checks out for a mid-1980's Albertsons.

Moving back to the front of the store, we'll begin our journey through the various grocery aisles.  First up is unlucky 13 which backs up to the produce department.  I'm still thrown off by stores that number aisles from left to right rather than right to left!

If the produce department was too stressful, just walk on over and grab a beer to take off the edge.

Wait, what?!  Liquor in a supermarket! 

If you're sleepless in Seattle, Safeway has just the nightcap!  I suppose Safeway cares for its customers and wants to ensure they have a fast, easy, convenient, and shake-free shopping experience—that is, if you can find whichever employee is holding the keys to the kingdom on that given day.

I'm not sure if these locked doors were installed as a theft deterrent or to comply with state liquor laws, but it seems like it would be easier to just have a separate liquor store than to make customers find an employee to unlock a door.  I know having to hunt down a Walmart employee to unlock the case to buy an SD card annoys the stew out of me, and it seems like these liquor cases would be just as bothersome.  At this rate, we might as well go back to the counter-serve supermarket model!

This photo also brings us to our next segment of the show: The Price is Right?  For today's cost comparison, let's examine the current (November 2023) Smirnoff vodka prices between this store and Total Wine:

Smirnoff Vodka Prices

750 mL

1 L

1.75 L


$12.99 / $13.99


$21.99 / $23.99

Total Wine (WA)




Total Wine (FL)




Total Wine (GA)




Note that the bold prices for Safeway require a membership card, while the other price is the "regular" cost.  

From what I've seen, Total Wine tends to have the cheapest alcohol prices for a given state, so I'm not surprised that they fall several dollars below what Safeway is charging.  What I am surprised to see, however, is how alcohol prices at Total Wine in Washington are right in line with what you can find in Florida!  I would have thought everything would be more expensive in The Evergreen State, but this example turned out to be quite the contrary.

The alcohol aisle did receive its own signage above the beer cooler, it just wasn't as inclusive as Jack would have hoped.  I guess he'll have to call up Captain Morgan to rescue him from drowning in his sorrow.


To add insult to injury, wine isn't even on aisle 13:  it's on aisle 12.

You'll notice the different tiles in this department, and it may not be a coincidence.  I learned that certain types of vinyl flooring are used in some bars / liquor stores / wine departments to allow bottles to bounce rather than break if they fall.  This particular flooring appears to be a bit cushier than your standard vinyl found throughout the rest of the store, so that may have been a consideration here.

Those are also some big jugs of water!

Back at the butcher block seafood counter, we catch a glimpse of the mezzanine office windows just above the department signage. 

At this point, I took an oath; I'ma stick it out 'til the end.  Frozen foods are the next articles we'll examine, in addition to more coolers and some nice patio furniture. How do they expect a shopper to get that patio table from the top of the freezer, much less fit it into a buggy?!

Under my umbrella we find breakfast meats of all sorts—I never sausage a thing!

While I did catch Corona in the store, I was thankfully able to find the pharmacy soon thereafter.

But not before a stop at the creamery in the back of the store.  That's clever how Safeway opted to use vertical stickers instead of category markers on the coolers; the only problem I see is that the labels aren't legible when looking for an item further down the aisle (like we see here).

Next up is aisle five, complete with popcorn, crackers, cookies, juice, sports drinks, and snack nuts.

We'll dip into aisle 4 for a wide assortment of chips.

And we'll find trash bags, bleach, light bulbs, and motor oil on aisle 3.

In anticipation for precipitation, stack chips for the rainy day.

As for aisle 1, the yogurt looks a bit shaken (not stirred).

Today's fun featured product is some clearance ground mace.  While I initially thought it was being sold for people who want to make their own pepper spray, I have since learned that the spice we see here has no relation to the defensive mist.  It is, however, made from the flaky outer coating of a nutmeg seed:  you learn something new every day!

We'll take a quick overview of the impulse (organic) banana tree from the back left corner . . .

. . .  before mooving on to the remainder of the dairy coolers along the left wall.  I appreciate how these category signs are hatching out of the right side of the refrigerator doors.

While the vodka may have been priced roughly in line with what I'd expect, this local Washington yogurt wasn't quite as lucky—what a steal at $4.49!  And I thought I was paying a lot for full-priced Chobani at a buck-fifty, but I can buy a four pack of the national-brand Greek yogurt for roughly the same cost!

Anybody want some cook-gadgets?

Heading back to the front, we find the pharmacy isolated in its own alcove differentiated by a lower ceiling.  It appears that Albertsons took over some of the neighboring storefronts at some point to expand the store into what we see today.  I'd have to imagine this was also when the produce department was shifted to its current configuration.  

I'm not a huge fan of how they decided to curve the florescent lights around the pharmacy—then again, I've come to appreciate recessed lighting fixtures as opposed to surface-mounted strip lights.

Before this store was remodeled away from its final Albertsons package, it had some interesting category markers in this part of the store.

There was an additional watermelon float between the pharmacy and dairy department. This store sure did have a lot of beach gear for those brave enough to endure the frigid waters of the Sound!

What is it with former Albertsons stores having mountains of water?!  At least Safeway was creative in adding the inflatable shark to the mix.

Speaking of mountainous Safeways, the first (and only other) time I encountered the chain was on a trip to Colorado 15-years ago.  While I don't remember much from my visit (I'm still shocked I managed to dig up the store on my first guess), I noted how odd the Safeway name was in the first place.  Was this the supermarket version of a Safe Place?  What was the deal with the funky "S" logo?

Anyhow, I had plenty of time to marinate on my thoughts of that store as I continued my trip.  The Leadville Safeway turned out to be a safe refuge following miles driving on rough gravel due to road construction on US 24.  The car I was in also kept making all sorts of beeps, presumably from driving on the dirt road, that simply would not cease.  It was years later when I finally discovered what (or whom) was the true cause of my beeping distress—and it was not the mini van's fault.  At least I can laugh about it in agony now!

We may have escaped the beeping van and narrowly dodged the inflatable shark, but we still managed to get caught amidst a sea of seasonal balloons back in Washington.

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Florida anymore.

Toto: grrr ruff ruff (Then why do I see a flamingo?!)

I recently read an article discussing the plethora of flamingo sightings along the Gulf Coast of Florida following Hurricane Idalia's landfall. The tropical bird was previously little more than myth in The Sunshine State, but several of the fowl have recently taken up residence in the area (I guess they don't like state income taxes either).  I saw a lone flamingo amongst a flock of pelicans several weeks ago and it was quite the sight to behold!

Regardless, 's no birds I know of who would take the trip from Seattle to Florida.  That would be a long flight to escape the Floridian heat!  Also, Seattle hardly gets snow in the winter.

If you can't tell, I'm grasping at straws for captions, just as Safeway was grasping at large box displays to fill the wide open spaces inherited from Albertsons.

I figured I had to get a souvenir from my first visit to an "Albertsons" store, and I thought it would be best that it takes the shape of a place out west.

Does anybody else find it ironic that the store manager's name is Joey Skaggs?

Now, which Northwestern Safeway bag would I chose?  Well, I figured the colorful Seattle skyline would do me best.  But while I won't be coming back with the rest, I do know somebody else who picked up a bag with Mt. Ranier (just out of view to the right) to add a little zest to their collection . . .

The side of my bag features both the Albertsons and Safeway logos, so at least I now have one (full) piece of Albertsons memorabilia.

This store shockingly had the old rotating checkout stands until the 2021 Safeway conversion.  Nowadays, all of the lanes have been replaced by belted lanes that even feature advertisements printed on top (which I haven't seen before).

As if this store needs another Winn-Dixie comparison, The Beef People use the same springy wire to close off check lanes.  A manager recently approached me as I was waiting to check out, causing me to worry he had seen me photograph the store; thankfully, all he did was lean over to grab the wire in order to close off the lane.  I'm not sure they couldn't just turn off the lane lights!

What better way to round out this Safeway than to browse the display of costume jewelry and scarves!

Oddly enough, this is the closest thing to an authentic Albertsons I've ever experienced; I was hoping to find a suitable store in Washington but had to settle for this Safewaysons instead.  At least the (outrageously thick) plastic bags still made me feel like my trip wasn't a total loss, and the store itself had a layout reminiscent of what some Floridians saw in the 1980's.

Now that I've completed my humble quest, let's circle back to how we ended up here.  I obviously jetted off to Washington last summer.  After all, you should have realized that I like to travel by now!  

While I sat on these pictures for some time, I eventually offered them up to AFB in case he wanted to see what a "Modern" Safewaysons was like.  We then decided it would be fun to ask "what if" Albertsons remained in The Sunshine State, and if so, how would such a store look.  Although the last three Floridian Albertsons Safeway stores closed with the same interior we saw today, it's still interesting to see what would have happened to the other stores (like #4357) had they lived on under the Idaho grocer's control.

That's all I have, but I hope you enjoyed this break from the norm!  It has been a privilege for me to help The Albertsons Florida Blog, the inspiration behind my work, celebrate its 10th anniversary.  It's amazing how one person can keep a blog going for so long and still show no signs of slowing down. I propose a toast to 10 more years of food, fun, and plenty of puns; after all, he can't just leave us hanging on the eve of Florida's largest supermarket shakeup since 2008!  

As for me, I also look forward to what I can share regarding the pending AL-Dixie merger.  Even if America's Supermarket were to cease to exist, rest assured that AFB and I have plenty of Winn-Dixie content up our sleeves to satisfy any hunger for cheesecake Blanche may have.  I also plan for this to be my final post of 2023, but make sure to check back this Sunday for AFB's next celebration post and check back with me in January for some exiting new content.


- The Sing Oil Blogger


  1. The decor the Albertsons had before the conversion to Haggen was Premium Fresh & Healthy 3.0, which was probably put in not long before that picture was taken. The Modern decor from Safeway looks really good in this store! I'm surprised it was still being used in 2021, though, as I thought it had been pretty much replaced by Lifestyle v3 at this point.

    Thanks for this tour, Albertsons Washington Blog, and see you next year!

    1. Thanks for that info! I had seen the acronym PF&H floating around but couldn't keep all of the "modern" Albertsons packages straight since I have virtually no exposure to them. I agree that this store did look nice! While it was a bit of a buzz kill for me that the store had the same package the three Floridian Safeways (considering AFB documented them fairly well); however, it's still nice that I was able to witness it for myself. I know NW Retail has mentioned a new version of Modern popping up in Washington, so maybe that division wasn't quite ready to retire the package.

      Glad you liked the post, and we'll see what I cook up for 2024!

    2. Safeway is still using Modern in certain markets and the Seattle Division is a heavy user of Modern. Here in the Southern (Tom Thumb) Division, Albertsons tends to use Colorful Lifestyle v2 in renovation stores and Modern (usually Deluxe Modern) in new-build stores. The Southern Division has used Modern in renovations though and they have used Lifestyle v3, but it seems they’ve discontinued using Lifestyle v3.

      In the Portland Division, Lifestyle v3 is pretty much all that is used these days. While most Albertsons stores in Portland have been converted to Safeway (I went to one such Grocery Palace Safertsons during my vacation), there are some remaining Albertsons and they are also being given Lifestyle v3. I also visited one such store, the Cully Neighborhood Albertsons in Portland, and it has a unique combination of the Albertsons name, Lifestyle v3, the Blue & Grey Market Tetris floor, and turntable checkstands!

      So, with Safeway/Albertsons, it just depends on which division you’re in and even then there may not be consistency.

    3. Modern versus Lifestyle v3 seems to be a division-based thing, as Anonymous in Houston mentioned. Going down the west coast, the Seattle Division (which includes Alaska) uses Modern (occasionally Modern Deluxe), the Portland Division uses Lifestyle v3 (including the weird woodgrain version), NorCal uses Modern (mostly Modern Deluxe), and SoCal uses Lifestyle v3. Both California divisions also use Ultra-Premium (NorCal seemingly at random, SoCal for Pavilions stores), and Hawaii (which is part of the NorCal division) seems to be using Ultra-Premium exclusively.

      It seems like basically every division has used both Modern and Lifestyle v3 at some point. For the Seattle Division, Modern replaced Lifestyle v3 instead of the other way around!

    4. That seems like it would be so confusing for divisions to have an influence on store interiors when it is essentially a preference for one of three designs. Kroger seems to use a similar tactic and it just doesn’t make sense to me!

  2. NW Retail, you’ve really reformatted your blog! Wait, I thought I went to the AFB! Wait again, this is the AFB! Parallel universe indeed!

    While I am a bit dazed and confused about the Albertsons Washington Blog, what I am not confused about is the parking lot photo of this store! As NW Retail and I have discussed, if the subject is in Tacoma, there won’t be many Subarus in the parking lot. The results will be quite the opposite anywhere else in western Washington, but here we get an eggplant-colored Saturn instead of a Subaru! I’m no fan of Saturns in general, but you have to admire how the plastic body panels of those cars allow them to look new some 25+ years later! That’s not a parallel universe, just Saturn!

    This is an interesting looking Safertsons. Or Safehagsons? Well, whatever the case is, this store is a lot nicer than that joke of an industrial-looking new-build Safeway that NW Retail has on display on his blog now! Lol, I’m certainly not blaming NW Retail for that Safeway, that hideous store is entirely on Safeway! It is amazing how the same chain and décor package can look so different in two different applications! Who says Safeway has a bunch of carbon copy stores as was alleged during the prime years of the Lifestyle era?!

    Obviously, a big part of the good looks here are the drop ceiling and the floors. I know NW Retail isn’t a fan of the plain white vinyl tiles, and it wouldn’t be my first choice either, but it is a lot better than the finest stone floors from Cincinnati, tile-scarred concrete! Trust me, we have plenty of tile-scarred Krogertsons in Houston, the white floor here is a major improvement. The fake wood looks great too, it’s too bad they can’t expand the usage of that throughout the store.

    There are some aspects to this store which are quite unique for a Safertsons/Randalbertsons. The pharmacy area is especially strange. I have not quite seen that before!

    While I obviously know the story behind the Safeway name now, it was a bit of a mystery decades ago when Safeway was initially in Houston. It was always a bit of a funny name. Even funnier, I suppose, are the unaffiliated Safeway stores owned by AWG in the Indianapolis area! These are just strange! Link:

    The costume jewelry is a bit strange. I wonder what the story is there because I have not seen that at Randall’s or at the Oregon Albertsons/Safeway stores I visited and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen it in NW Retail’s photos.

    As you saw in my guest post at NW Retail’s blog about my trip to the Portland area (I only just saw that you had replied to that post, sorry about that!), I have one of those really thick Safertsons bags as well, but mine is the ‘Sincerely’ version of it. That’s okay, I was able to pair it with my ‘Sincerely’ Randall’s/Tom Thumb/Albertsons standard bag in my retail bag collection.

    But, yeah, in general, Skaggs (Joey in this case) runs a really nice Safertsons! Sam Skaggs would be proud!

    1. Ha! I figured this post would throw some people for a loop! Unlike AFB, I do occasionally find myself away from the comforts of the Eastern Time Zone; it’s just who would have thought the product of one of my excursions would end up here!

      I figured you would make a comment about the parking lot! I wonder what it is about Tacoma lacking the Subarus that Washington State is known for? I cracked up at your description of the eggplant-colored Saturn and didn’t even notice the car from the defunct brand until you mentioned it. I’m surprised that the plastic bumper hasn’t faded more than it did, but I suppose that could be since Seattle doesn’t have quite the baking heat that I’m used to in the Southeast. You’re right that the car appears to have held up well. Who knows about the mechanics, though, considering how it is still a GM.

      Wow, I’m shocked Safeway didn’t even bother to paint the warehouse ceiling in the Puyallup store! Warehouse ceilings certainly don’t bother me as much as they do you, but I agree that it looks really bad there! At least the bare concrete floors in that store weren’t scarred from years of being plastered in vinyl tile! As far as carbon copy stores go, everything gets thrown out the window when conversions like this begin.

      Compared to what I’ve seen in many other stores (ehm, Winn-Dixie), this white vinyl looks like a dream! The tiles are also much better than, as you mentioned, Kroger’s preferred flooring of the hour.

      I think the strangest part of the pharmacy is the fact that it was carved later from adjacent storefronts. It certainly felt odd in person and really threw off my perspective when trying to identify this store’s original layout.

      I don’t know the story behind the Safeway name, so it is still a mystery to me. It is bizarre to see the unaffiliated chain from Indiana.

      Maybe Lakewood needs some costume jewelry for going out on the town at night? Who knows! At least you have a collection of “Sincerely” bags as well. I managed to dodge that bullet on my trip.

    2. Anonymous in HoustonDecember 3, 2023 at 2:45 AM

      Those black plastic bumpers on the lower-end Saturn models without painted bumpers did tend to turn chalky-looking here in Houston at least, but perhaps they held up better in the Pacific Northwest with the lower heat. Those first and second generation Saturn SL sedans/SW wagons are still seen here in Houston even though most other small GM cars were junked a long time ago so they were probably a cut above the typical GM small car at the time!

      I can't really explain why Tacoma is the anti-Seattle when it comes to cars. I can't think of a place here in Houston where the car choices are so much different than another place in the Houston metro area. I know Tacoma is more working-class than much of Seattle, but it is not like Subarus are expensive, all things relative, so I don't know!

      The funny thing is one of the fanciest car museums in the US is located in Tacoma! Link:

      I believe the story on the Safeway name is that Safeway operated on a cash-n-carry basis when many other grocers at the time worked on a credit system. Buying what one had in their pocket at the time was considered the 'safe way' to shop and I think that is where the name came from.

      That Puyallup Safeway really is a disaster, isn't it? I didn't want to be too negative on NW Retail's blog, but yikes, it really is just a warehouse! I think I get more upset about Safeways looking like that because Randall's is our antidote to ugly looking Kroger and especially HEB stores here in Houston. It's not like Randall's is building more stores here in Houston (the last new store they built here was in ~2010 and it has a drop ceiling and a proper floor), but it is sad knowing that if they ever did build a new store here, it would probably look really ugly...maybe even more ugly than a modern HEB or Kroger! I just don't want to think about that!

    3. Maybe the stars aligned at the Saturn plant to allow those cars to have a much longer lifespan than most other GM vehicles!

      It is strange that Tacoma is the anti-Seattle with regards to cars. Like you said, Subarus aren't expensive cars, but they must just cater to a different audience than the people in Tacoma. I feel like most car divides that I've seen are more along the lines of price than just style or brand.

      That's good to know about the Safeway name!

      yes, that Puyallup store was really bad! I saw a recent post on The Retail Connection covering a Giant store that was similarly disgraceful. Warehouse ceilings are one thing, but unpainted warehouse ceilings are a far worse atrocity!

  3. Wow, for a second I though AFB broke away from the Southeast and decided to venture on the opposite side of the country!
    This is a neat old Safebertsons. It is very strange at the propensity for which Albertsons Cos. decides to abandon the Albertsons banner in favor of Safeway in so many areas in the Pacific Northwest. Personally I like the new Albertsons decor package much better than the Lifestyle Brown seen in here (albeit a clean and neat decor package). Safeway's Colorful Lifestyle this has also been appearing in many Albertsons bannered stores is a lot nicer looking that this too. The Pacific Northwest is definitely a beautiful but costly part of the country to live in. I almost considered the possibility of moving to southwestern Oregon, but I think I'll just enjoy using my airline miles to fly out there once in a while to enjoy the beauty of being there and not having to pay the high taxes and cost of living out there.
    In case you haven't seen this youtube video, Poulsbo, Washington had an Albertsons which opened in 1984 and was featured in this 1997 video showcasing to the public Albertsons' Hawaiian Days Celebration, something they used to do a lot back in the 70's, 80's, and 90's. Im sure how far Poulsbo is from this store, but I'd be curious to see what that place looks like now.

    1. I've been to that Poulsbo Albertsons! There's a restaurant across the parking lot that I've eaten at a couple times. Sadly, that was one of the many stores that Albertsons closed down even before the merger, and it's never found a new permanent tenant. I don't even remember what decor package it had when I went there, but the Spirit Halloween pictures on Google Maps seem to show that it got PF&Hv3 shortly before it closed.

    2. We do need to get him to venture out one day, even if it is just to the great beyond of the Panhandle! As you mentioned, I’d love to know what goes into the decision process for which Albertsons stores will convert to Safeway. To an outsider like me, it seems like a needless waste, but what do I know! I know Anonymous in Houston and NW Retail mentioned more about the Modern vs Lifestyle v3 rollouts above and they are certainly more qualified on the subject than I am. I didn’t think Modern looked bad in this store, but it would have been nice to see a little more color or wall texturing. I also agree that the Pacific Northwest is a beautiful (and costly) place to visit, but I wouldn’t know what to do without the seemingly endless sunshine in the Southeast. Having to wear a light jacket in June really threw me off!

      That’s a cool video! It’s always nice to see a store with Blue & Gray Market back in its heyday, and this location seemed to go all out with the Hawaiian theme.

      It's sad that the store has now been relegated to a seasonal Spirit Halloween of all things!

  4. Very cool to see this, especially with all the historic research I’ve never bothered to do for my own region! 🙂 Haggen may look like Haagen-Dazs, but it’s definitely not pronounced the same way. This store would have probably looked a lot like this (scroll down) during the Haggen days — that’s the very first store I ever photographed, so excuse the rough edges! And for what it’s worth, Haggen was already in bad financial shape before they tried to expand, following multiple previous failed expansions… I guess they just never learned.

    I considered visiting this store at one point, but Lakewood is somewhere I’ve always avoided — one of the only places in the region that I avoid, in fact. I guess you’re braver than I am!

    This store’s layout is definitely quite odd. You don’t normally see produce aisles at Albertsons! You’re probably right that it was rearranged at some point, with the original layout being much closer to the Vero Beach example.

    There’s a whole discussion about this in the comments on my blog, but do stores in other parts of the country really number aisles from right to left on a regular basis?? That just seems bizarre to me! Around here, basically every store does left-to-right numbering, regardless of where the main entrance is, with the exception of Fred Meyer where the aisle numbering seems almost random these days. There are some exceptions, mostly in stores with overall bizarre layouts, but they’re few and far between! Seeing as English is a left-to-right language, it seems strange that right-to-left aisle numbering would be standard in some regions!

    The locked liquor cases aren’t a legal thing here, this is just Lakewood! 😉 Though honestly, basically every Safeway in Washington has these, except for the ones that have separate liquor sections with their own register — normally those are the extra-high-theft locations. It probably wasn’t an issue when they were installed, but with how Safeway has cut staffing back far beyond reasonable levels, it’s probably almost impossible to get an employee to open the cases these days — in most stores, you constantly hear the automated announcements calling an employee to the “premium liquor cabinet”, though my local store has solved that issue by simply taping over the buttons and telling people to order their liquor from the cashier at checkout (which is probably why the one open regular checkout lane always has a massive line… thankfully, I prefer self-checkout). The random cardboard boxes around produce are another symptom of that understaffing (that never used to be a problem), and all the products on top of the frozen cases are also supposed to be retrieved by the employees that are no longer ever anywhere to be found.

    That Seattle skyline bag you bought has always annoyed me! I’ve always found skyline views with the Space Needle in the middle to be strange, since the classic Seattle skyline from me is from the water (from the ferry, specifically) where the Needle is way off to the left. That bag is a depiction of the other classic Seattle skyline view, which I’m starting to get used to since it is the view from my neighborhood and my building’s roof deck, with the Space Needle in the center and Rainier in the background, but then they put water in the foreground as if it was the ferry view! The buildings in the background are weird too — some are recognizable, but placed weirdly; others (including the white building with a pointed top that’s right in the foreground) don’t exist in Seattle at all! The ugly line drawing on the bag on the left is much more true to life.

    This is a really cool post, and thanks for all the links throughout! I hope you’ll be back at some point to see some of the better and more interesting parts of the Seattle region!

    1. Anonymous in HoustonDecember 2, 2023 at 12:27 AM

      I think the reason why right-to-left aisle numbers are common here in Houston at least, assuming that produce is on the 'natural' right side of the store, is that most people enter the store through the produce side of the store. This is probably even more likely to be the case at stores with a power alley/grand aisle design where everything in the store directs you through entering through the produce side. From the produce aisle, everything beyond is numbered sequentially and it makes sense.

      When a store here has the 'unnatural' left-to-right orientation with produce on the left side of the store (a large number of stores like this here in Houston are former Albertsons), the aisle numbering is thus left-to-right for the same reason as the above principle.

      The only reason why maybe right-to-left aisle numbering exists at Safeways in your area, as far as what I can think of given my experience visiting those stores earlier this year, is that the hot delis in the Pacific Northwest are quite popular relative to Houston at least. Since Safeway often has the hot deli on the opposite side of the store from produce, maybe there are a lot of people who enter the store and go straight to the deli rather than produce. That's a bit of a long-shot explanation though, but it is all I can think of! It seems incomprehensible to me for someone to enter the store through produce on the right side of the store and then the first aisle greeting them is aisle 18 or something like that, lol.

    2. Anonymous in HoustonDecember 2, 2023 at 12:30 AM

      Sorry, I meant to say 'left-to-right' in reference to NW Safeways to begin the last paragraph of my above reply. I seem to get left-to-right and right-to-left mixed up quite easily, but I'm blaming this on still being dazed and confused about the Albertsons Washington Blog, lol.

    3. I think I mentioned visiting this store a while back, so I’m glad you finally got to see my perspective and learned a little bit of history! The history portion tends to be one of my favorite sections to write about because I never know what I will uncover in old newspapers and such. If Haggen is not pronounced like Haagen-Dazs, I suppose the “a” makes a sound similar to “age” or “The Hague, Netherlands” then? I’m assuming it has a hard “g” sound as well? I know Retail Retell and I were discussing something a while back where I told him the correct pronunciation and he was mind blown!

      Thanks for the link to your Haggen pictures. While it is strange for me to see a Blue & Gray Market Albertsons without Publix décor, the Haggen signage fits what I would have imagined. It’s also very easy to tell that Haggen was barely scraping by when it came to converting these stores because the walls are so boring! I think your pictures turned out pretty good for the Port Angeles store being your first. It also shocks me how some companies never seem to learn from past mistakes!

      I’m usually the first one to get nervous in a sketchy place (and my photography, if I even go inside, usually suffers), but this store didn’t raise any red flags for me. Maybe I’m just naïve to what is sketchy in the Northwest, but I know exactly what to look for in the Southeast, lol! Despite this being my only stop in Lakewood, the nearby community of Steilacoom seemed charming and didn’t make me feel unsafe in the least.

      This layout really threw me off when I was in the store, and it took a lot of retroactive comparisons for me to find a similar match! I asked AFB to send me an example of a 42,000 sq ft, mid-1980’s Albertsons and Vero Beach is what he came up with.

      Like I mentioned on your blog, I didn’t realize I’d start such a conversation! As I said over there, the vast majority of Publix, Winn-Dixie, Kroger, and Ingles stores I can think of number the aisles from right-to-left. It is strange to think that this convention is opposite to what English speakers expect, but it has trained me to almost always shop in a grocery store from right-to-left. Maybe it is since you are accustomed to Albertsons stores that left-to-right numbering seems normal to you; those are some of the only Publixes I can think of that go contrary to the norm. Publix has even been known to reverse the aisle numbering in acquired stores, such as the former A&P I posted about several months ago.

      Good to know that this store wasn’t deemed as “extra-high theft,” lol! The Washington Safeway staffing shortages seem comparable to the Georgia Kroger staffing levels (which typically don’t lead to a happy outcome for me). I still don’t see why Kroger seems to have much more of a problem than Publix, Ingles, Food Lion, or even Winn-Dixie when it comes to staffing. Maybe Kroger and Safeway are just running an experiment to see how few employees they actually need to run a store!

      You’re right! I took a few pictures from the Bremerton ferry and the Space Needle is way off to the left! It seems like that skyline was inspired by a view from the North since you can see Mt. Rainier in the background, but it’s odd that Safeway would totally make up some of the buildings. Regardless, all of them look a bit abstract to start with. I bet the designers wanted to throw as many Seattle references in as they could without any regard to directional accuracy. I definitely didn’t want to take home one of those ugly green line drawing bags though!

      You are welcome! I’m glad I was able to throw in a few references to a Northwestern native. I’m sure I’ll make it back to the area at some point, but I was at least able to hit a few highlights including Mt. Rainier National Park, Pike Place Market, the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Gig Harbor, and Bremerton. I should have added some of those pictures to my post as well!

    4. @Anonymous in Houston, produce does tend to be on the right side of the store in Georgia as well, but many Publix stores built before the 2000’s still have it in the back left corner. Even those stores, like #172 in Naples, still number the aisles from right-to-left despite lacking a clearly defined path to navigate through the store.

      Like we saw here, the right side of the store is most definitely the primary entrance and aisle 13 is the first one on this side of the store to greet shoppers!

    5. Supposedly, the Haggen company (back when it still existed) was pretty particular about how their name was supposed to be pronounced, but the normal pronunciation is with the first syllable basically the same as "hay", while the second syllable is with a hard g, basically the same as in "Haagen-Dazs". (I have no idea how to properly pronounce "The Hague"!) Us Northwesterners like to use the long A sound in all sorts of odd places (probably a Canadian influence)! Here's an ad from just before they imploded to hear how it's supposed to be pronounced.

      Lakewood has a real bad reputation, but I don't know how sketchy it is in reality. But I've spent quite a bit of time in the traditionally sketchy parts of Seattle proper, and still don't like to go to pretty much anywhere in that south-of-Tacoma area.

      Ironically enough, Albertsons was the only company to frequently use right-to-left aisle numbering in normal-size grocery stores! Safeway, on the other hand, pretty much exclusively uses left-to-right, which (as I mentioned on my blog) is probably because their stores have a much more balanced layout with the service departments on one side and produce on the other.

      I don't know who Albertsons is targeting those bags to -- I'm sure most locals would be as bothered as I am about the lack of accuracy (even if my opinion that the ferry view is the proper Seattle skyline view is probably not shared by most Seattleites), but how many (normal) tourists buy souvenirs from the grocery store? It's just weird!

      Cool, I didn't realize you had made it to more of the region! You were right in my neighborhood with the Chihuly place (which I've never visited even though I live like half a mile away... it's more of a touristy thing), and pretty close to one of the most interesting remaining Albertsons stores (over in Magnolia)!

    6. I can relate about being particular with how people pronounce your name – people can not seem to figure out how to say my last name when they first read it or spell it when I say it, so I end up spelling it out every time I have to give it. I don't think it is that complicated either! Anyway, "The Hague" is pronounced with the same sounds used in Haggen, so now you've learned something too! Hopefully people in the Northwest have not adopted the stereotypical Canadian "Eh"!

      Good to know. I'd imagine Lakewood has some bad areas (considering how its reputation precedes it), but you'd probably be fine on the main road around this store. It is a bit of a drive for you though!

      So strange how the numbering seems to vary by region!

      The thing is, most people don't notice details like we do and may not even catch the skyline being inaccurate. I do agree that most tourists probably don't buy souvenirs from a supermarket (especially one in Lakewood).

      Yeah, I didn't want to waste my trip to the area! The Chihuly museum was cool, but I agree that it is mostly a place for tourists. I'd say it is worth visiting at least once. That vintage Albertsons is crazy! I doubt I could have coerced the people I was traveling with to visit it, but I can keep it in mind if I end up back in Seattle!

  5. Pretty neat "what if" here! Complete with a special guest appearance from Toto and a rendition of that one Christmas song (which I have just learned is, in fact, definitively called "THE Christmas Song" [emphasis mine]. Rather presumptuous, no?)

    1. Thanks; I had fun writing it and bringing in all sorts of special guests! I'm mostly surprised that you didn't know the tune was called "The Christmas Song"! That was rather presumptuous and haughty of the songwriter.

  6. Thanks for bringing AFB a taste of the Pacific Northwest and for writing this post to share with everyone! It's interesting to think about how if events had gone differently in Florida, how more of these Safewaysons stores could have dotted the Sunshine State. It's even weirder to think Florida is the state to thank for giving us the Safewaysons to begin with!

    I can see the bones of #4357 in this Safewaysons. Clearly, this store in Tacoma has been a lot more through the years than #4357 ever was, but that early 1980's layout is quite apparent. The pharmacy alcove in this store is interesting, and certainly looks like an addition (although the pharmacy would have most likely always been in that spot, just out in the main salesfloor in the store's earlier days). It's also interesting the direction the aisles are numbered was brought up in the comments, as I guarantee you if this store was in Florida, aisle 1 would have been this store's aisle 13. Stores with this layout were always numbered with aisle 1 beginning off the grand aisle in FL.

    1. You're welcome! It seems like the post was a hit, so maybe next time I will have to give a tour of something like a King Sooper or an H-E-B. It is crazy to thing that the Safewaysons trend began in Florida and even crazier to think that there could have been more than three of those odd conversions.

      I'm glad that you agree about the resemblance to #4357. I was initially very confused by this store with all of the changes that have taken place, but upon further examination, I could see bits of the past shining through. I'm convinced that the pharmacy alcove was an addition, which must mean that this store has performed well over the years if it needed more space. Like I've said before, the numbering in this store was strange!