Easton Sidewalks: Downtown’s Safeway Comes to a Sad Ending

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Hundreds of downtown Easton residents found out some unfortunate news yesterday. According to the Star-Democrat, Safeway has decided to close its food store on Washington Avenue this September.

Considered to be one of Easton’s best-kept secrets, which is perhaps one of the reasons Safeway decided to close it, with short lines, friendly service and long hours, the Washington Avenue store was accessible by foot for many lacking cars or other transportation means to do their food shopping.

Even with its unique charms, the Safeway never really caught up with the changing times.  The store was small, and there was never a real investment by the parent corporation to upgrade its deli, improve its bread selection, or get on board will high quality prepared foods.

Perhaps there will be the silver lining in all this bad news. The current store and location would make an ideal spot for a Trader Joe’s or a small Whole Foods. We’ll need to wait and see, but given its location and the important role of providing downtown residents with access to a food store without needing a car, we hope this is only a temporary setback.

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Letters to Editor

  1. Below is my post on the subject from Facebook, but I wanted to preface it with a heartfelt appreciation of the additional points mentioned above. Perhaps there is a silver lining here, replacing a grocery with a grocery is the only way we should “add” another store in this town. I am hopeful of the future of this location and am similarly disappointed with the limited upgrades – though I surmise from their perspective not innovating and changing kept costs down and the store clung on. There was a discussion from leadership at Safeway to move near Chipotle – and this is likely somehow related to the fallout of that not going through. However, they fell victim to some overarching trends in the downtown and surrounding area – automobile focused shopping centers. This was largely out of their control.

    There’s more here though than the politics of the hour and the day. Hopefully this, along with a string of other events, will lead to understanding the complexities and connections that our decisions have on audiences we typically don’t listen to or don’t know to listen to. We all should learn from our mistakes, and this is certainly one of them. There is a wide swath of residents underserved by the car-centric culture we have developed in Easton.

    This is what happens when you oversaturate the market, pun intended. This store was patronized by a wide variety of residents but was likely relied upon by a cohort of residents that either doesn’t have access to a car or little access to one. The deluge of new grocery stores in town slowly chipped away at those residents able to shop elsewhere which broadly seems reasonable until you realize the ramifications of that on those that relied upon this store. We have gutted downtown of a grocery store in favor of putting food where there are no people. This is 100% cause and effect, nobody should feel surprised by this. This is a dark day for equal access.

    I was walking around downtown last weekend and it made me sad to see so many closed stores on a Saturday night, so many empty storefronts, and the lack of people. Why have we pushed all services out of the downtown?

    Boutique retail cannot survive on its own. A mix of retail options, necessary (Safeway) and optional (jewelry stores, bars, bookstores) make a place successful. St. Michael’s is leaps and bounds ahead of us in this regard, but are facing a similar uphill battle. For years they focused on tourist retail at the detriment of their full-time residents. A famous quote I remember hearing in St. Mike’s was “Where do you buy underwear if you don’t have a car?” And I don’t mean the $75 variety. We are quickly arriving at a point where we can start to ask similar questions in Easton.

  2. Ezra Finkin says:

    oh man! This was the only grocery store withing walking or safe biking distance from me. It is great to get out of the car and do some shopping on foot or bike. I hope something fills its place. Maybe Earth Origins could move in?

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