Saturday, April 11, 2009

Grocery Store Review--Safeway, University Place, WA

The University Place Safeway is located at the corner of 40th and Bridgeport in the Green Firs Shopping Center. It has been at it's current location for over 25 years and has undergone several face lifts in it's time.

It's most recent face-lift was finished within the last few years. The exterior had undergone some major changes and I had heard rumors of a new coffee bar and updated interior. I have not had the opportunity to see the inside until this review and was excited to see what they had done.

Unfortunately, the interior had not been changed as much as I had expected. It still looked like the same store I shopped as a kid but with fewer lights and more stuff. I did not like how dark the store was and how narrow the aisles were, I immediately felt squished. Fortunately the aisles were all clearly marked and I was able to get my bearings rather quickly. The store was clean but felt cluttered (I think that's the whole narrow aisle thing again). The paint and signage was all attractive and looked fresh.

Though the shelves were labeled and the coupon products had special signage I still had difficulty tracking down a few sale items--especially the strawberries. The strawberries weren't in the produce section, instead they were at the very front of the store by the floral department. I had to ask for help to find them which caused another difficulty--finding a store employee, more on that later. I also had some problems finding the right size box of sale priced fish, more on that later too. All other items were easy to find by simply following the store signage. The shelf labels were clearly marked with prices, sizes, sales and cost per volume.

When I needed help finding strawberries it took me a while (about 4 minutes) to track down someone who worked there. Finally I realized the employees were wearing plain clothes with only a name tag to differentiate them, that was really confusing. Turns out, the woman I approached for help was behind the floral desk (If she's behind a desk she's an employee, right?) was the front end manager. She was very helpful and led me right over to the strawberries. She then asked if there was anything else she could help me with. I asked her a question about a sale item, the tostitos chips, and asked her to clarify the sale for me. She quickly checked the shelf while I was browsing the strawberries and came back with the answer to my question. Very kind, very helpful!

At checkout the cashier wasn't fazed by my handful of coupons, he simply set them aside and forgot about them! Oops! I caught the prob before I paid but the price was still a lot higher than I expected. I stepped to the side and reviewed my receipt and found the problem, my fish rang up $4 more than the sale price. I approached the customer service desk and told her the problem. She was very friendly and courteous but seemed confused and had to go get a manager (not the one that helped with strawberries). The manager, also dressed in everyday clothes, quickly determined the problem. Though the ad was for items 12-20 oz. the 20oz. package that I had purchased was not one of the items included in the sale. She explained this and then went to the back to get the appropriate size box for me, the 12oz of the same product. I would have preferred if she would have asked which box I would like (I wanted the most weight for my money, right?) but oh well. She returned the first box, rerang the second box and refunded me the difference. I asked her a few general questions, she answered them. She was knowledgable, quick and efficient.

University Place Safeway Scorecard

Are the advertised products in stock and easy to find? I was looking to see if the products were on regular shelves or had they been moved to endcaps or other locations in the store. I also wanted to know if they were clearly marked with the sale/coupon prices.
Three carts deducted for difficult to find strawberries, insufficiently marked boxes of fish and confusing Tostitos sale labeling

Are the employees and cashiers coupon/sale knowledgable? I wanted to know if they knew what was on sale and could they help me find it, if necessary. I also was watching to see the cashiers reactions to scads of coupons, if they remembered to ring them and if they were rung up correctly.
Three carts deducted for forgetting to ring up my coupons without being reminded and customer service representative unable to clarify receipt without manager.

How do I like shopping at this store? I want to get a feel for the ambiance, store layout, cleanliness and product quality. I'm also looking at how the employees interact with the customers, if they're friendly and helpful. Would I want to shop here on a regular basis?

Two carts deducted for poor lighting, cramped aisles and hard to spot employees.

Overall Score

7 out of 15 carts, not horrible but not good either.
Store Reviews

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