Albertsons checking out of valley
One store to close, one rebranded as a Safeway
Albertsons grocery stores will no longer have a presence in the Grand Valley after one store closes and the other is transformed into a Safeway, officials confirmed Monday.
Corporate officials said they will close the Albertsons store at 1830 N. 12th St. by March 20 and will turn the remaining Albertsons store on the Redlands into a Safeway. Approximately 70 employees at the store that is closing will be affected.
The store is the latest casualty of a merger between the grocery chains last year, and comes after several Albertsons on the Front Range were converted to Safeway stores or closed last fall. Officials said it was a strategic decision to better serve customers and focus marketing efforts under one brand in the Grand Junction market, and that it was a market-based decision that was partly financial.
“It wasn’t performing as well as the other stores in the area,” Kathy Holland, Safeway spokeswoman, said in reference to the 12th Street Albertsons. She said the decision didn’t necessarily have anything to do with the new City Market that opened less than a mile away on the corner of 12th Street and Patterson Road last March.
Edgar Gonzalez was shopping with his dad, Luis, on Monday, when they heard the news that the store will close.
“It’s not good,” Luis said, shaking his head. “Especially for the college students.”
They liked shopping here for the seafood and the meat, as well as the sale items.
Like many regular shoppers, the Gonzalezes said they were concerned about the employees at the store.
“I’ve seen them working for a long time here,” Luis said.
Holland said the company is trying to place the employees who work at the Albertsons that is closing in positions at other stores. Some of them have worked at the store since it opened nearly 30 years ago.
Shopper Gary Jensen of Grand Junction loaded four economy size packages of chicken drumsticks in his truck, which he got for 69 cents a pound with a coupon on Monday. He was taking them home to make dog food for his pets, Thelma and Louise.
“I just hate to see everything shutting down,” he said.
Jensen, who has lived here since 1970 and owns Certified Electric, has been around for a roller coaster of economic times for the valley — boom, bust, boom and bust again. He attributes some of the economic woes to the ease of virtual shopping and the cheap prices.
“I’ve seen it myself, people come in and say, ‘I can buy it for a dollar less on eBay,’ ” he said.
While the company decided to close the location across the street from Colorado Mesa University, it is also investing in major remodels of the stores it’s keeping open in the valley, Holland said.
Three other area stores, including the Redlands Albertsons at 2512 Broadway that is becoming a Safeway, are in the process of being remodeled, Holland said. She estimated that the remodels of the existing Safeways would be complete by Feb. 22 and the former Albertsons on the Redlands would be finished at the beginning of March, and that the stores would have grand reopenings at that time.
While the corporation decided to convert many of its Colorado stores to Safeway, it kept the Albertsons banner in other markets, including southern Idaho and parts of Montana, Holland said. Part of that decision came from the proximity of two other Safeway stores in the same region in Montrose and Delta, she said.
Longtime shoppers were disappointed to hear the news.
“I’ll be lost. This is my favorite place,” said a woman named Jo who declined to give her last name. Though she lives only a few blocks from a City Market, she drives to this Albertsons because “I like the clerks and I know where everything is,” she said.
“I was afraid they might close,” Janet Eisenach of Fruitvale said when she heard the news. She’s been shopping at this store for 12 years, and it’s her favorite, though it’s not as new as some other stores.
“It’s smaller and it’s easier to get in and out of,” she said. “The people are friendly, and they have better meat than City Market.”
“It does make me sad,” she said.
Mesa County assessor records show the building, which is more than 40,000 square feet, is owned by a subsidiary of Albertsons, which pays more than $38,000 in property taxes annually. Holland said the company has not decided what to do with the property yet.
The last grocery store closed by the corporation was the Redlands Safeway in June 2015. The building has remained empty since then, though the company continues to pay rent on the lease, which ends in approximately 10 years.