Now open: Safeway officially open for business in Anthem
ANTHEM –The community welcomed Safeway back to Anthem at a grand opening celebration on Dec. 14. During the ceremony, the Safeway Foundation donated over $65,000 to local schools and other non-profits.
“We are so glad to be back in this community,” Albertsons/Safeway District Manager Jim Hug said at the grand opening ceremony. Hug managed the Anthem Safeway when it opened in 2000 and for several years afterward.
“I can’t find the words to tell you how happy we are to be back in Anthem,” Hug said.
The opening ceremony featured the Boulder Creek High School marching band and cheer squad, and Daisy Mountain Veterans representatives presented the American flag as part of the ceremony.
Multiple local businesspeople and community representatives attended the grand opening.
“We’re excited to have them [Safeway] back,” said Justin Simons, Chair of Anthem’s Economic Development Committee. Simons owns a State Farm office in the complex. Simons noted that he is “thrilled that Safeway is back home.”
The Safeway Foundation received warm thanks from the local schools, MCSO North Valley Posse, and other non-profit organizations that benefited from the $65,000 in grants that was distributed.
The new Safeway includes expanded departments and new offerings, such as a wide variety of organic produce, a large selection of meat and seafood, and a designer floral department. The bakery and deli will provide shoppers with a variety of choices, and in-store sushi and a new chicken wing bar will also be offered.
A full-service pharmacy is operating out of the new store, and new patient care services are planned. The pharmacy will also be offering immunizations.
The new Safeway also includes a Starbucks with a seating area. Safeway formerly featured an in-store bank; the new store will not have a bank.
When the original Safeway in Anthem opened in 2000, it was the first store in the area. It operated as Safeway until mid-2015. During the Albertsons/Safeway merger in 2014, the Federal Trade Commission ordered the divestiture of 168 Albertsons and Safeway stores as a condition of the merger. The FTC said in a Jan. 27, 2015 statement that the “proposed $9.2 billion merger would likely be anticompetitive in 130 local markets in Arizona, California, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.” As a remedy to maintain supermarket competition for consumers, the FTC ordered that certain stores would need to be sold.
Enter Haggen, a small northwest grocery chain. Haggen bought the majority of those divested stores, including Safeway in Anthem. Haggen in Anthem was open only three months before the Haggen corporation began closing stores as financial crisis threatened the grocer. The Anthem Haggen closed in autumn 2015, and the storefront sat empty for over a year.
In September 2015, the FTC approved an application to modify the divestiture agreement between Albertsons and Haggen, due to Haggen’s store closures and pending bankruptcy. This modification allowed Albertsons to re-hire former employees.
Haggen's financial downward spiral continued, and litigation followed; Albertsons filed suit against Haggen for unpaid inventory, and Haggen filed suit against Albertsons, alleging unfair practices. The companies eventually settled their differences, and in March 2016, The Bellingham Herald reported that a judge approved Albertsons’ purchase of the remaining 29 Haggen core stores and that Albertsons planned to retain the Haggen name on 15 of the stores. (It’s official: Judge OKs Haggen sale to Albertsons, by Dave Gallagher)
While the FTC ordered the original divestiture of some Albertsons/Safeway stores, they have now been allowing stores to return, including the Anthem Safeway.
“If a store is closed and there is no better alternative buyer, we will let Safeway reacquire the store,” an FTC spokesman said via email in response to a Foothills Focus request for comment on the matter.
Locally, this means that Anthem has been able to welcome back Safeway, and the community is embracing having another grocery store in the community, as well as seeing familiar faces in the familiar-but-new settings.
“We’ve heard from countless residents that we really need another grocery store in Anthem,” Roger Willis, Anthem Community Council Vice President, said at the Dec. 14 Safeway grand opening. He noted that the store would be a “hotspot in Anthem” and that it’s “coming back with a stronger foundation.”
Safeway in Anthem is open daily 5 a.m.-midnight. Contact the store at (623) 745-3800.