In college, we had the Gucci and Ghetto HEB. (San Antonio, TX) Grad School: Swanky and S****y Schnucks. (St Louis, MO)
I am in Washington, DC now… and like every other town before it, you guys are too cool for the room; the locals have (yet again) categorized our grocery stores with cute nicknames. Here, Safeway has taken over our landscape. Sure, there is the Giant, Harris Teeter, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods… (not to mention Wegmans, if you have the time and gas money to go out into the suburbs…). But you are NOT a *true* Washingtonian unless you shop regularly at your local urban Safeway. As someone who has lived here long enough and has set foot in most of them, I think I know all of our store naming jargon. (Some of it is made up and/or altered – if you don’t like it… write your own blog.)
[Note: I’m on my fifth(?) day of sharing my neighbor’s internet. Verizon still hasn’t gotten around to fixing my connection. As such, this post (again) will be shorter/more half a$$ed than usual. Grrrr…]
So let’s get on with it… Below is the Safeway Shuffle. I’ll do this from west to east (sort of), to amuse myself.
Social Safeway (Georgetown)
The most “famous” Safeway… seriously, are they holding a happy hour there? This is the Safeway you go to to hob nob with the uber weathy, the trust fund college students and the diplomat community. In true Washington form, private events and galas are held here… between the frozen and the produce aisles. (Sadly, I’m not joking.)
But between all of that nonsense, people actually “meet” at the Social Safeway. Want a significant other? Start shopping here. A new BFF??? That’ll be in Aisle 2. Interested in meeting other urban hippes? They are all in the organic foods and/or sushi section. If you say hi… if you’re cute enough, they’ll say hi back.
Senior Safeway (Watergate)
You know, back in the 1970s, one of our former presidents got in trouble for breaking into some of the offices herein. Well, I don’t think anyone has moved out since that era. The AARP crowd shops here. I’m sure the shelves are stocked with Fixodent™, tapioca pudding… and hopefully, condoms.
Soviet Safeway (Dupont)/Socialist Safeway(Rosslyn, VA)
I’m lumping these two stores into one category because they have pretty much the same issue – they are both mindblowingly awful in terms of selection, size and clientele. Oh, let me delineate, in great detail, my woes…
- Both are teeny-tiny; just a bit bigger than a 7-11. (Indeed, the Rosslyn location probably was classified as a fall out shelter; it’s in the basement of a high-story tower);
- They can’t even stock the basics, and what they are able to provide is definitely sub par. And just to insult you, what is there… is terribly overpriced. You can see the economic theories of supply and demand immediately at work;
- The produce, meat and seafood, to be kind, lacks in freshness and absence of mold; but more than makes up for it in skank; and
- During holidays and natural disasters, I take a field trip just to gawk at all of the well-educated professionals fight over the last package of no-name brand toilet paper.
The U.S.S.R never had anything on these shopping experiences. (Or is it the other way around?) In any case, everyone loses. And the reality makes even less sense because both of these Safeways are in very wealthy parts of their respective communities. Go figure.
Sandinista Safeway (Columbia Heights/Mount Pleasant)
In a nod to American idiocracy/racism, everything south of the border is well… Mexico. This is the grocery store where you stock up on your Goya products, Inca Cola and Virgin Mary candles. If you spend enough time in there, you may very well learn Spanish too.
Sexy Safeway (5th and L Street, NW)
I don’t know about this one. The only thing “sexy” about this location is its exterior: full of glass and steel. Inside… it’s nice. But I’m guessing the sexy people shop at the Whole Foods… or they are sending their housekeepers to pick up supplies for them.
This Safeway does boast a large wine department though… after a few glasses, everybody looks sexxxy, I suppose.
Swanky Safeway (Southwest)
Ya, I don’t have a good nickname for perhaps the nicest Safeway near downtown DC. I went in there once… and immediately freaked out because it was TOO large. I felt like I entered the freakin’ Mall of America of grocery stores, and I immediately became dizzy with vertigo.
Well, for how well stocked and suburban-y it feels… nobody ever goes there. Because it’s on the GREEN LINE.
Have you ever been to the Safeway near the Potomac Avenue metro? You’d remember, as you are shopping with 3,000 of your closest friends… and are subsequently standing 50 deep in line with them too. That fact should be bad enough, but what really gets me panting… is the check out staff. They hate you. For being you. And they are not afraid to screw with you if you look at them wrong.
Seriously, I’m sorry that you are being paid minimum wage to deal with us poor souls. But can you please not overcharge me for that can of beans I’m trying to buy? Thanks.
Not-So Safeway (H Street Corridor-ish)
Previously, this nickname was held by the Capitol Hill location… but now that the neighborhood is quickly gentrifying, it’s probably not as dodgy anymore. But north of Capitol Hill, around H Street? You might not want to stop there at night… unless you like the music of shotgun blasts while you pick out your Wonder Bread.
Ya. In the city, we hate our choices in grocery stores. But for most of us, Safeway is the closest supermarket, so we’ll continue to shop there. Well played, Safeway. Well played.