If yesterday was any indication, Snoqualmie residents appear thrilled to have a large grocery store in the neighborhood. Welcome to town, Safeway.
People were lined up by 11:30AM, August 23rd, for the grand opening of the new Snoqualmie Safeway, which after some short speeches and ribbon cutting, officially let folks through the door just after the scheduled 12PM opening. Seahawks Blue Thunder performed in the parking lot, along with another band. There were some food stands – and even a balloon maker for the kids.
Hundreds streamed through the door – many cheering and some with phones recording the store’s interior – and immediately got to wandering, shopping and eating the large chocolate, ‘Snoqualmie Safeway’ welcome cake, which was gone within a few minutes.
The opening of the 43,000 sq. ft. Safeway may mark a change of life for many Snoqualmie residents, who reside in a city that has only ever had one small grocery store. For years, many of its 13,000 residents have left the city to do a lot of their grocery shopping – either heading west to Issaquah or east to North Bend – creating a retail leakage issue for the property tax dependent city.
Some say the new store still won’t stop all that leakage – at one point it was estimated that 73% of Snoqualmie residents left the city for retail needs, resulting in other cities grabbing that sales tax revenue – but Snoqualmie city officials hope the new Safeway – and Bartells – will keep residents shopping at home more often.
As promised by Safeway, the new store’s design is a departure from other Safeway’s in the area. The deli/bakery and produce areas are usually on opposites sides of the store, but not in Snoqualmie. If you enter through the west entrance, you walk straight in a large, produce, bakery, deli, prepared food and cafe section where you find everything you’d normally expect, plus an area where they do made-to-order pho, sushi, rice bowls, and wok meals – in addition to ready-made sandwiches, a large cheese case, and a salad and wing bar. [Click photo to enlarge panorama shot below.]
And yes, there’s another Starbucks inside the store. And yes, when the nearby drive-thru Starbucks opens, that will make three Starbucks within a couple blocks of each other. Some may say it’s overkill, but based on how busy the original Snoqualmie Ridge Starbucks is [all the time], it could end up working just fine.
Oh, and near the Starbucks and prepared food area, there’s a decent-sized seating area, with an indoor-outdoor fireplace, along with more outside seating, too.
Larger Wine Section
If you enter the store’s east entrance, you’ll notice a large wine (and liquor section). For the record, I’ve never seen a Safeway with such an extensive wine section. There’s even a glass, temperature controlled case filled with some pretty (and very) expensive wine.
Note: I saw a $700 and $900 bottle inside the case. There’s also an end-cap filled with wine ranked at 90 points.
According to one wine steward, they pride themselves on having bottles you may not be able to find anywhere else in the area.
High Ceilings, Skylights
The store itself is nice, with high ceilings complete with lots of skylights. The skylights were nice touch, bringing in more natural light than I am used to inside grocery stores. The floors are simple, sealed concrete. The wide aisles are all numbered and were also given a local street name – cute touch.
The employees were very friendly and seemed genuinely excited with the warm reception they received on opening day. As one Safeway corporate employee put it, they’re very excited to be in a community that is so welcoming.
It may seem crazy to those who don’t live in Snoqualmie that hundreds of people would line up and be this excited about a large grocery store, but until you’ve lived without one close-by, you may not be able to understand.
And to the Safeway fish department guys – way to entertain the kids with the Pike Place Market-like fish throwing yesterday. There were some happy little kids catching those slimy guys.
See 6-year old Snoqualmie Fish Catcher Braden Fowler below:
Location and Hours
The store is located at 34828 SE Douglas Street and is open 5AM – 1AM daily. The adjacent fuel station will open in October, with a kiosk open from 6AM to 10PM daily and 24-hour availability for the fuel dispensers.
Happy shopping Snoqualmie Valley!