34 Responses to “NoMA Harris Teeter to Open this Fall”

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  1. i’ve found that every new safeway and giant in DC suffers from the same problem. no matter how nice they are when they open, they are managed somewhat less than effectively.

    until safeway and giant change the way they hire, train, and prod managers, nothing will change there.

    both of the harris teeters in DC are managed on a different level than the giants and safeways. not that they’re perfect (i’ve seen MUCH BETTER grocery stores in many other cities around the US), but they just feel better-run than any giant or safeway.

  2. John Thompson

    I completely agree – I would love to put together a list of complaints & get signatures from MVT residents. Our Safeway could be SOOOO much better than it is now. I love that it’s so convienient, but they need to do a clean sweep of the staff & start all over again. The current staff has run down a brand new store – it’s grimey, disorganized, customer service is awful, selections are poor, I’d rather drink Sanka than go to their Starbucks, produce has flies all around it, the restrooms are disgusting because the staff doensn’t say anything to the homeless people that use it as a shower – oh yeah, and the understaffed store’s employees move at a snail’s pace with poor a work ethic. I’m inclined to get a Zipcar to hit the Harris Teeter rathat than shop at the Safeway in my building. Sad, isn’t it? I think if Corporate hears the same from enough people, maybe they’ll actually do something, since complaints to management go nowhere (as they’re part of the problem). Poor work ethic=lousy City Vista Safeway.

  3. john: you’re absolutely right RE: cleanliness. i see every employee in harris teeter taking a moment to make sure merchandise on the shelves is straightened out when they walk down an aisle. in safeway, i see employees lounging around, not caring that there is a pile spoiling, should-be-refridgerated meat stuffed where magazines belong. it’s the attention to detail that makes harris teeter better, and kills safeway. they have a culture of not caring about appearance, when that’s a HUGE deal regarding the food i’m going to put into my body.

  4. Jason

    Safeway and Giant are union while Harris Teeter isn’t. That explains alot.

  5. FP

    that safeway is a complete disaster. it already looks like its 30 years old. hopefully harris teeter will be a good alternative.

  6. tom veil

    The apartment building on top of that Harris is also starting to rent. The temporary sales office is a trailer adjacent the NY/FL Metro. They’re going with a really lame name — “130 Flats” — but it sounds like this building is going to have all of City Vista’s features and more, including a 2-story gym and 3 rooftop garden, the largest of which will apparently be sturdy enough to operate as a dog park. The sales rep told me that they’ll have the first units ready for move-in in a month, and the whole building ready by October. I can post a rent sheet if you want, but basically they’re aiming at the high end of the market.

  7. Joe

    I had great hopes for the Safeway when it first opened two years ago and now it is just as bad as every other Safeway in the city. I was in Crystal City doing errands the other day and did my shopping at the Harris Teeter in Potomac Yards. I had forgotten how nice they are compared to Safeway. I for one can’t wait for the new Harris Teeter. People voting with their feet may be the best message Safeway can get. Do you notice how many check out lanes Safeway has versus how many are actually open at any one time?

  8. RobA

    I’m counting the days till I can walk to Harris Teeter instead of making the same [distance] walk to Safeway. Unfortunately John, we’ve made our comments known to Safeway management and regional management (who lives in the area) and nothing has been done. The first thing I do know when I go into the Cityvista Safeway is look to see how few cashier lines they have open (and how many of the self-serve lanes are “closed”). If they are backed up into the aisles (like they usually are), then I’ll do without that evening – or go elsewhere. Harris Teeter may be a bit higher in some things – but you get what you pay for … and I’d rather pay a bit mroe to get better produce, meat, selection ….. AND CUSTOMER SERVICE!

  9. MyTwoCents

    In spite of how close I live to CitiVista I always find myself making weekly treks to Whole foods or Harris Teeters. I use this Safeway as more a 7-11 type convenience store than to actually do any meaningful shopping. The reason is always the lousy customer service and the absence of professionalism among its staff.

  10. Tony

    It’s too bad that Trader Joes was not courted for this space instead of Safeway. As crowded as most TJ stores are when I shop them, EVERY register is ALWAYS open and produce/shelves are being stocked ALL DAY LONG. It irritates me to NO END when I go into Safeway and 75% of the yogurt is missing! What, is there a dairy strike or something? No, wait…. a whey convention, right?!? Also, the produce section REGULARLY looks like a bunch of gangsta rabbits has gone thru there and raided the place. Grocery shopping should be a pleasant experience and it simply IS NOT at this Safeway. I live 2 blocks away and I have no car, yet I regularly rent a Zipcar and do my grocery shopping elsewhere.

  11. Mike@555 Mass

    I have to say that I am fairly shocked by all the negative comments about the City Vista Safeway. I used to shop at Trader Joes in Old Town Alexandria (across from my office), but stopped after finding time and again that the fruit was far less fresh than what I could buy at Safeway. Yes, I found the fruit less fresh. In fact, Trader Joes does not get a fruit delivery every day, but Safeway does. I have had no shortages of any product at Safeway and think that the lines are comparable to other groceries that I have visited. The majority of the staff live in the surronding neighborhoods. Safeway hires locally. Great thing. Many local people in our area need jobs. I have never had an empolyee be rude or discurtious to me. In fact, I do go out of my way to be nice to them as I have observed a few instances of fellow patrons being dismissive and curt to the employees. My last comment: the City Vista Safeway store stayed open through all of the snowstorms that we had this winter! I certainly appreciated that! I don’t think they altered their hours at all, and I told the store employees at the time how much it meant to our community that they were open. I hope that some of what I have said rings true to others and that we can be a little more receptive to an imperfect, but I think valuable asset to our community.

  12. RobA

    @Mike, I wish I had your experiences at the CityVista Safeway – mine have been anything but positive. I’ve had employees be nasty to me and directly to me and other customers in the aisle, checkout clerks are too busy talking to other employees than talking to the customers (especially at the self-service checkouts). You can’t get to the cheese/yogurt aisle because they also use that aisle for beer (not to mention the poor planning of putting one of the busiest aisles in the store smack dab where large support beams are located) If I head to Harris Teeter (DC or VA) or a Safeway/Giant in the ‘burbs – I have a totally different experience than I do at the City Vista Safeway or 8th/O Giant. Since I have a choice, I’m going to go where I’m treated as a desired customer and where I can actually find what I’m looking for.

  13. Bruce

    I’ve had no problems with the staff at Safeway and am generally happy with the quality and selection of the goods for sale, but the crowds and long lines drive me crazy. I never go to Safeway before 10:00 PM (or after 10:00 AM on weekends) because otherwise the store is too crowded and I end up spending 30 minutes in line. I’ve actually made a point of going after 11:00 PM recently because the lines at 10:00 PM have gotten considerably longer over the last few months. A few weeks ago, I spent about twenty minutes in line after 11:00 PM because they only had two lines open and all six of the self-serve check-outs were off. I certainly hope the new Harris Teeter diverts enough of Safeway customers to make the lines more manageable.

  14. M Street

    I too am surprised at all the negative comments. I’m a fan of the Safeway, and its location in the Triangle was one of the things I considered when I decided to buy in the neighborhood. (I’ve lived in the neighborhood for only a couple months, so perhaps I’m the beneficiary of recent improvements). The produce selection is much better than at the Kalorama Rd. Harris Teeter I shopped at before I moved to Mt. Vernon Triangle; the prices are way better than Teeter; and I’ve never had any problems with the staff. The only issue I have with the store is that the lines are crazy during peak hours.

    I have to wonder what all the folks trashing the Safeway are comparing it to. It’s way nicer than the Safeways on 17th or Columbia Rd. or in the Watergate, and even the new Giant in Columbia Heights. And the lines at the Whole Foods on P St. are much worse. I love TJ’s, but it’s not a full-service grocery. And comparing an urban grocery store in a densely populated area to a grocery store in an upscale suburb is an apples-to-oranges comparison. City groceries are subject to space restrictions and high per square foot costs that put pressure on overhead expenses (including staffing). Comparing the Safeway to a Teeter in the suburbs is like comparing my condo in the Triangle to what the same money would buy me in the burbs. We could all afford more space and amenities if we moved to where land was cheaper and less in demand, and the same goes for Safeway.

    That said, I welcome the new Teeter and will definitely stop by to check it out when it opens. Some competition could prompt the Safeway to improve, and might lessen the crowds.

  15. Sadie

    I think I will be trekking to the Harris Teeter as well, even though I live just steps away from the City Vista Safeway. When it first opened, I recall Mayor Fenty dubbed it the Sexy Safeway because it was so pretty and new. Well, that lasted at best a few weeks I feel like…there is definitely NOTHING sexy about it now. It is always understocked no matter what day or time you go, there are NEVER enough cash registers open or enough people who bag which makes the few cashiers who are there work even more slowly (aren’t we in a recession??!), and the people working there are lazy and have terrible attitudes. I am over it, I think I’d rather go farther and hope that the crappy Safeway finally gets the message and shapes up!

  16. RobA

    Bad service in the ‘burbs is no different than bad service in the City. As a consumer, I deserve better and will go where I feel I get treated as a desired customer and where I have a better selction of basic grocery items. Right now, that’s at the Harris Teeter at Potomac Avenue or across the river at Pentagon City. Being an urban grocery store and having higher overhead and less room has nothing to do with what respect they show to their customers.

  17. Carol

    I can’t agree with all of these comments more (the negative ones.) I purchased in the condo building connected to this Safeway, and whenever I walk into this sub-par grocery store, I actually wish I bought elsewhere. There are more high end buildings coming in the immediate area (one new huge apartment building attached to the Yale Lofts across the street, another on L just a block away.) I just can’t believe how ridiculously mis-managed this Safeway is for such a potentially high-end market. This Safeway doesn’t understand that they need to cater to all levels of clientele, not just the same as those that work there. Hiring local is great when the workers you hire are hard working, care about their jobs, and give a high level of customer service, but unfortunately that is not the case here. These workers are literally amongst the worst I have ever seen anywhere and have brought a really nice grocery store down into the pits.

    Some of the things I can’t stand (besides the personnel…but it’s all related):
    – The store has become dirty. I mean it opened just over a year ago, and it looks 15 years old. Corporate Safeway should be ashamed at letting this happen.
    – Bathrooms are gross, soda machines are out of service, water fountains always have huge plastic on top of them, there are “Thank you” stickers everywhere (the ones they place on items after you purchase), the floors are disgusting, the shelves are dirty with spilled over food that never was cleaned, there are flies around the produce. This place is just DIRTY.
    – The deli department just doesn’t get it. They are SO slow, there is no use of tickets to know who is next in line, I HATE, HATE how they pre-slice meat ahead of time because they are too lazy to do it fresh (I mean come on, that is the whole point of a deli), the prepared foods are terrible, there is always one or two persons working behind the deli counter…typically one pre-slicing meat and not helping people, and the other taking forever, and last but not least, they are NOT sanitary at all. They place the meat upside down on the counter contaminating it all of the time. I am totally grossed out that I never will go to the deli again.
    – The salad bar is always a mess and is never maintained. The types of food items are always fried chicken. I mean come on…the reason people love Whole Foods is their variety of prepared foods that change daily.
    – Checkout lines are miles long, several self-checkout terminals are usually always broken, the personnel checking people out take forever and so obviously don’t want to be working there…they literally hate their jobs and it shows.
    – Safeway decides to inconvenience their customers by not including plastic bags at the self-checkout isle instead of trusting them to type in the right bag number. I am not lying when I say that I’ve asked the manager why they do this, and the manager said “We don’t trust our customers — they steal bags without paying the tax.” SO WHAT??? You choose to inconvenience everyone else because of some customers who skip out on a 5 cent bag tax? Safeway — remember, you used to give these bags out for free, so does it REALLY matter?
    – They have no clue how to keep isles restocked…the dairy isle is always a disaster, and they need to move the beer elsewhere instead of piling it in the middle of an already tight isle.
    – Safeway signs are tacky.
    – I love organic foods, but Safeway barely makes an effort here. They leave organic produce sitting there for weeks because people don’t buy as much of it, so it isn’t fresh. When you are paying a premium for organics, you expect more.
    – I seriously could go on for hours…but I’ll stop here.

    I am going to send this blog post to Safeway and will only hope that they see it. I’ve already sent comments via their website, but they just say they will forward them to the store manager. This need to be fixed at the corporate level. They need to get rid of the personnel in this store and start over (especially the managers.) The number of comments on this post attest to just how bad the situation is, and how much we CARE because we live and own property in this building. It can be fixed, but it needs to happen now before it is too late. For now, I join everyone else who will be shopping at the new Harris Teeter just a few blocks away.

    Safeway corporate — if you are reading this, we want to hear from you. We want to know that you are doing something. Please don’t just let your few good stores in DC go completely down the drain.

  18. TryThis

    I don’t know if these all work, but I think the only way we are going to get action is to contact Safeway corporate. Here are some e-mail addresses to try based on their firstname.lastname schema including the Safeway CEO, Regional Manager, the Safeway CEO’s assistant, director of retail operations, and some other names I pulled up. The consumerist blog would call this an EECB (executive e-mail carpet bomb) and has proven to be quite successful.

    Steven.Burd@safeway.com, Steve.Burd@safeway.com, Laura.Wharton@safeway.com, diane.dietz@safeway.com, bruce.everette@safeway.com, larree.renda@safeway.com, lisa.levine@safeway.com, michael.minasi@safeway.com, robin.hamm@safeway.com, robert.edwards@safeway.com, david.ching@safeway.com

  19. Nate

    If all of you need to be coddled you should move to Georgetown. I hear there’s a nice Safeway over there.

  20. jg

    Not that this excuses any of the problems, but I believe that Safeway is required to hire a certain percentage of its workforce from the local neighborhood (not sure how “neighborhood” is defined). I think it was part of the contract that the developer signed with the city to build City Vista.

  21. kelly dieter

    Agreed! Can’t wait for Harris Teeter! Best produce ever. I’m tired of salad mixes that go bad in two days flat!

  22. ks

    In my experience, Safeway and Giant stores across DC seem to have the problems identified here (dirty stores, high prices vs quality, bad service), which keep me going out of my way to avoid Safeway and instead shop at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Costco. At the 5th & K Safeway most employees seem like they don’t want to be there, and don’t have basic customer service skills, so when they provide poor service, I don’t think they even know the difference, except for the guy who wouldn’t cut a few steaks at the counter for me – 30 minutes before the meat counter closing time stated on the sign right beside him – because he “already cleaned it”. That would simply NEVER happen at Whole Foods, I supposed because the expectations set between management and employees is completely different, and I would guess the unions may have some negative impact in that area. The bottom line is Trader Joe’s and Whole foods appear to know how to train and manage a very effective staff, whereas Safeway and Giant do not.
    Finally, not only are the prices vs quality high on meat and produce, but several months back Safeway had a huge 30% off all wines sale. This Safeway has a large wine area, and Safeway in general is the 2nd or 3rd largest grocer in the US, which means it buys wines in quantities few other retailers can match, allowing them to realize lower costs. However, the local wine stores I frequent (MacArthur Beverages / Calvert Woodley) were still the same price or cheaper than Safeway’s 30% discount price on every wine I looked at. Even the corner liquor store I sometimes buy beer at (corner of 12th & E) sells its 6 packs of Budweiser American Ale for 15% cheaper than Safeway at regular price. This just verifies for me how much Safeway price gouges its customers on a regular basis.

  23. Nate

    I just got back from Safeway and the produce department looked great. Very well stocked. I had a very nice conversation with the cashier, she was very nice. I don’t understand what is happening to you guys.

  24. Nate

    Also, the other day I went in there to the prepared food counter and the clerk let my girlfriend and I basically sample every thing that we thought looked good.

  25. RobA

    @Nate, I do have to agree with you regarding the prepared food/Deli counter area – I have never had a problem in that area. Sometime they are too busy and aren’t aware of who is next – but we need to speak up and help them out to know who is next – that’s just basic good manners on our part.

  26. Ralph M

    Everytime I shop at Safeway, which is about 4x per week, everyone seems friendly and eager to help. I am always offered a sample at the deli and frequently shown where items are located in the store. I truly get the feeling that the employees try hard to please their customers.

  27. JA

    The Safeway is appalling. I don’t shop there any more because of the stock-outs, lack of customer service, dirty appearance, high prices, long lines, lack of plastic bags at check-out, etc. I agree with many of the comments posted. I don’t understand why they have so many stock-outs; they are starting to remind me of the Communist Safeway in Dupont. Unfortunately, I can get higher quality products, better selection, and fewer stock-outs from Peapod than from this store. I have had so many poor experiences there that I just cannot bring myself to go inside anymore … and I usually LOVE grocery shopping!

  28. Nate

    Quick update: plastic bags are once again available for self use at self checkout.

  29. John Mitchell

    I believe that there are employees in our safeway that do care,but yes the majority of them do not.The way they run the cashier and customer service area is appalling!!!For example why do i as a customer have to wait behind 4-5 employees who say they are waiting to pick up their checks,or even worse waiting to cash them.Why do the employees feel it necessary to congregate around self checkout to order place their carryout orders? Does safeway not provide a breakroom for employees??
    Thank you for now trusting us with plastic bags,maybe we are headed in the right direction…….

  30. Laura

    If you own in cityvista and keep going elsewhere to shop, perhaps your own cityvista safeway will fail and you will be stuck with a huge dead space. The entire appeal of the condo and its market value rests to a great degree on the fact that city vista safeway is right downstairs. You all should try to make the safeway better. If you can’t even organize on this local of a level (in your own building, your own block, and the market value of your own condo), how can anything big or national or global be effectuated at all?

  31. Sara

    I also live in City Vista have been really disappointed with Safeway going down hill since its first few months open. I have spoken with the store manager multiple times because of problems at the deli counter and elsewhere. They will help fix the problem at that second, but there are no efforts for institutional change. I really want the safeway to succeed, but I am hoping the teeter will force them to make some necessary changes to keep pace with the needs of the neighborhood. I don’t think its snotty or unreasonable to ask that there be enough food stocked to not have entire shelves empty for days at a time. A group of neighbors at the L also spent months trying to work with Safeway corporate about issues with their trucks delivering at all hours of the night/am, in violation of the DC Code. They pretended to care, but it ended up being hours wasted because the trucks continued to violate the noise ordinance and eventually corporate just started ignoring us. DCRA also never responded to complaints about the ordinance violations. I really wish Safeway would be better neighbors, especially since we have spent so much money in that store since it opened two years ago.

  32. Last weekend i stopped in the safeway starbucks around 3pm on sunday and was informed by one of 2 girls behind the counter that the starbucks was closed because they had no one to work it. But…the self checkout chick was more than happy to help me with a little price confusion with an item i was buying.

  33. The Watcher

    hmmmm…I see my post has been removed. No profanity, no name calling just disappointment in Safeway and praise for Harris Teeter. I’m not feeling the love mvt.
    anywayyyy…a “blog” that censors isn’t for me.
    Yall have fun now ya here.

  34. FourthandEye

    @The Watcher

    There was no censorship. The comment you made was in a different posting about Harris Teeter in December.