Oak Harbor Safeway re-opens in Albertsons location

Safeway employees stick labels on items Friday morning shortly after the store opened at its new Erie Street location formerly occupied by Albertsons.

Oak Harbor’s grocery store carousel has finally stopped turning, leaving customers and store employees with a chance to start gathering their bearings.

Safeway re-emerged Friday morning in Oak Harbor, opening its doors at a new location after a month-long hiatus and returning a banner familiar to the city since 1967.

The store’s new location is on Erie Street in the same building long occupied by Albertsons, which merged with Safeway in a transaction that was completed earlier this year.

The merger was made possible by the divestment of 146 stores in five states all acquired by Haggen, setting in motion the banner changes in Oak Harbor with Haggen replacing the Safeway store on Highway 20 last month and Safeway ultimately taking Albertsons’ place.

“I’m glad they’re back,” said Walt Yates, a longtime Oak Harbor resident and Safeway shopper.

“I like $5 Fridays.”

“I love it,” Oak Harbor’s Denise Louis said. “They still have some of the old Albertsons favorites.”

Shoppers were met by familiar faces as Safeway retained its former Albertsons employees. A new face was Brett Hintz, the store manager who brings 21 years of Safeway experience to Oak Harbor.

He greeted customers at the entrance and handed out reusable tote bags that contained sales advertisements and store information.

The store was closed for four days for remodeling and re-merchandising leading up to Friday’s opening.

However, the heavy lifting is still to come with construction continuing until May 22 when a more formal grand re-opening of the store will take place in connection with the City of Oak Harbor’s 100th anniversary, company spokeswoman Sara Osborne said.

“We’re at the half-way point right now,” Hintz said. “I can’t wait to see when it’s all done.”

Over the next several weeks, the checkstands, pharmacy and floral section all will be re-located within the store with the work scheduled to take place after store hours.

Safeway will be open from 6 a.m. until midnight daily through May 21 to allow for the construction. The store will switch to being open 24 hours a day on May 22.

Although there is no gas station at the new location, Safeway’s club reward card is being honored at participating Texaco and Chevron stations.