Residents near the western end of Davie Street are set to once again have a nearby grocery store, as Safeway plans to open a new store on the north side of the redeveloped 1600 block between Bidwell and Cardero streets.
The block had a Safeway that first opened in the 1950s, and then was renovated in 1995. It then closed on August 31, 2017, and the building was demolished to make way for a multi-use building with condominiums.
Store manager Steve Hogeweide was manager of the old Safeway on the site between 2002 and 2006. He told Business in Vancouver that 44 of his store’s 142-employees will be staff who previously worked at the store.
The new store includes a large Starbucks kiosk that has extended in-store seating, a floral department and a live crab and lobster area, where customers can have their purchases freshly steamed.
The store also has a salad bar and a bulk food area. Hogeweide said both of those sections will be closed for the foreseeable future because of restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff will bag bulk-food items and put them on display for customers to purchase.
Hogeweide said the new store is 41,000 square feet, up from the 29,500 square feet that housed the old store.
There is newly an upstairs area that is included in that measurement, but Hogeweide said that other than washrooms the area will be for staff only.
“The shopping area is probably about 30% to 40% larger because the building now stretches over the full width of the property, into where there used to be a government liquor store.”
The British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch confirmed to BIV that it still plans to open a liquor store in the block. Its future store would be to the west of the Safeway, and the plan is to open it this fall.
His plan is to introduce a shopping hour between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. for seniors.
The store will open at 9 a.m. on its opening day, May 21, so the first seniors-only shopping hour will be May 22.
“We’re just going to open our doors at 9 a.m., and people will figure out we’re open,” he said.
“Because of COVID-19, we’re not doing our normal grand opening with dignitaries coming. There’s no marketing associated with the opening that we normally do because we don’t want to create crowds.”
Safety measures will include sanitizing carts and other high touch surfaces constantly during the day, while workers will be expected to wash their hands every 15 minutes.
There will be a limit on the number of people in the store, and physical distancing markers will be on the floor. Staff will have access to necessary personal protective equipment like gloves, masks, and protective shields for work stations.
Empire Co. Ltd.’s (TSX:EMP.A) Sobeys division owns Safeway.
This is the second grocery store to open in the downtown peninsula so far this year, after Fresh Street Market opened at Vancouver House, at Pacific Boulevard and Granville Street on February 7.