Safeway nicknames: Separating truth from fiction

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(Photo: TBD Staff)

No moniker exists for the happiest Harris Teeter or the most gigantic Giant, but ask for the Social Safeway and you’ll get directions to Georgetown. Why the public bestowed a dozen nicknames for Safeway and only Safeway remains unclear, with the origins of the names often lost to history.

Perhaps it's just that the District's Safeways have been around forever, affording locals decades to experiment with appropriate coinages. Or maybe it's just that the letter "S" lends itself to alliterative riffing.

Safeway spokesperson Craig Muckle says the store is aware of the nicknames and is “OK” with a few of them. “Not that we get to bless them anyway,” he adds. Muckle declines to say which are false, explaining that these names are by the people and for the people. “We’re not a customer, so it’s probably not our place,” he explains

Corporate sensitivities aside, there's a serious consumer-protection imperative in fact-checking the various Safeway nicknames. What if, for example, a newcomer hears about the "Social Safeway," goes there expecting to rub tons of elbows, and leaves feeling lonely and ignored? False advertising!

So here we go. Via on-site observations, customer interviews, product analysis, historical research, public records, and some narrowly circumscribed input from Muckle, TBD hereby fact-checks the grocery-buying public and their fancy little nicknames.

The “Sexy” Safeway, 5th and L St. NW, D.C.

The case for this Safeway’s sexiness starts with the exterior: a steel and glass modernist design that looks hot next to some of its blocky brick neighbors. Inside, customers first encounter the floral department. Orchids are sexier than rotisserie chickens, so +1. A nut bar follows (nuts have long been considered an aphrodisiac). A generous wine department compensates for a not-so-sexy DVD selection (Big Daddy?) and a locked bathroom (no sneaking away for afternoon delight in the grocery store without asking for a key).

As for the clientele, shopper Jennifer Grzywinski is willing to call them “good-looking,” but today’s shoppers, in their conservative Washington work wear, ooze no more or no less sex appeal than you’d see in a Giant or Harris Teeter.

For Contrina Whitley, though, the sexiness of this Safeway is more about how the products make her feel than the attractiveness of people. “It’s fine,” she says. “I mean, money-wise. The feel of it, the way it look.” She gestures to a display of lusciously frosted sheet cakes. “Look how they got the cakes and things. Nice and beautiful and refined. Sexy.”


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