Life After Safeway: We Shall Rise Again!

Safeway recently announced that it was closing its Rhode Island location – and Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. organized a rally in protest yesterday. The rally was organized quickly, but won’t be successful in keeping the store open.

With Valentine’s Day here and gone, the situation is like the final scenes of a failed relationship: pleading for a partner to stay.  But we need to just let go and remember: “When one door closes, another one will open.”

While living in the Bloomingdale community of Ward 5, I never went to Safeway due to its tired appearance compared to the then-newly installed Giant right off the Rhode Island metro, which was just half a mile away. As the News8 story states, the Safeway was deteriorating. And the company purposefully let it waste away.

This Safeway incident reminds me of a partner with low self-esteem holding on his or her significant other who has been emotionally detached from the relationship for awhile. The therapist’s response would be: “Why keep fighting for someone who clearly doesn’t have your best interest in mind? Just let go and let live.” And yes, easier said than done, but you must have faith.

If you have a faith and a belief in something greater than you, then you (the distressed partner, or in this case the Ward 5 community) know that a better opportunity will arrive again. The key is you got to believe to achieve. Just because that’s all you have known doesn’t mean you don’t deserve better. Joy will come in the morning.

So to the distressed partner and Ward 5: ‘Let’s strategize. Could that space turn into something better than a Safeway? If Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. is in contact with the management company there, can we propose an alternative solution? A true community center for wellness?’

The great silver lining to the closing is that there is media attention, political interest, and a community demand for a positive use of the space. Now is the time to transform this failed relationship and propose a better solution.

So in summary, the top 5 ways to rise again:

  1. Think positive! Believe and have faith.
  2. Create a vision board for the space.
  3. Set up a community meeting to develop a proposal for the space.
  4. Contact the media, councilmember and the management with the plan.
  5. And keep up the fight but for a community partner that’s worth the energy!

And remember: Be empowered! We shall rise again!

About contributing editor: Tambra Stevenson is the Vice President and Chair of the Committee on Food and Environment for the Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association. She is a graduate of the Tufts Medical School-Emerson College Health Communication Master’s program and has a B.S. in nutritional sciences and Spanish minor from Oklahoma State University. Catch her at this year’s Rooting DC 2010 cooking up Kale Chips and hearty Island Kale and Sweet Potato Soup for the “Food for the Brain” cooking demo. Follow her at http://www.twitter.com/tambra

Written by Tambra Stevenson

Tambra Stevenson is the Vice President and Chair of the Committee on Food and Environment for the Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association. She is a graduate of the Tufts Medical School-Emerson College Health Communication Master's program and has a B.S. in nutritional sciences and Spanish minor from Oklahoma State University. Catch her at this year's Rooting DC 2010 cooking up Kale Chips and hearty Island Kale and Sweet Potato Soup for the "Food for the Brain" cooking demo. Follow her at http://www.twitter.com/tambra

3 Comments

  • Ed Waisanen says:

    I asked Council-member Thomas about the Safeway closing when he stopped by my work for a check presentation event. We’re located in Edgewood Terrace, which is the large housing project located just up the hill from the store (roughly 800 housing units).

    Mr. Thomas’ response brings to mind several issues around the closing:

    1. Many Edgewood residents are low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and/or single parents. The Rhode Isle. Safeway was very walkable and convenient for them. When I walk up the hill to work I typically pass several people with grocery handcarts. The nearest other grocer, Giant, is across Rhode Island avenue and almost three-times as far away.

    2. Other grocers have signed “non-compete” agreements stating that they will not move into the space. These may be voided as negotiations progress. I don’t know the details of these agreements.

    3. One possible point of negotiation is to get Safeway to leave equipment when they go, to help defray the costs of something new moving in. There may also be tax-incentives for something new to move in or for Safeway to stay.

    4. If nothing replaces Safeway, other nearby businesses may loose customers. Local employment is a big issue in that area.

    5. Safeway did not invest in that store, and it is notorious for long-lines and bad produce.

    Tambra, I think the message of your post is on-target, the situation is full of possibility.
    I also think that a lot of residents are understandably scared that they will be left behind as their wealthier neighbors get in the car to shop elsewhere. I would recommend that anyone interested in learning attend the protest on Monday (not sure what time), if only to hear people’s concern.

    A link to the video of Council-member Thomas’ comments is here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eA2-Fqe30eU

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