Where are you buying the food for your holiday table? Bread Furst, I’m Eddie Cano, Muchas Gracias and Little Red Fox were among the local businesses taking pre-orders for heat-and-eat Thanksgiving dishes and desserts, and they’ll have special offerings for the December holidays, too. This year, Wegmans joined Giant Food, Whole Foods and the Chevy Chase Safeway as our closest supermarket options.
Between 25 and 55 years ago, shopping for Thanksgiving might have included a stop at the Van Ness Safeway at 4310 Connecticut Avenue.
Now home to Gold’s Gym, the 9,900-square foot Safeway opened in 1967, the same year as the Giant across the street.
When Safeway closed the store in April 1997, The Washington Post reported that it was one of the company’s smallest remaining locations, and was likely losing money. “It’s getting very difficult to make money in a 9,000-square-foot store, whether it’s in a city or in a cornfield,” an industry expert told the Post.
The same article described Giant Food as “slightly larger.” At 18,345 square feet, it was nearly twice as large, but still small by mid-1990s standards.
In 2006, the Van Ness Giant completed a renovation and expansion that increased its square footage by 83 percent. New features touted by Giant Food included self-checkout, an ethnic foods section, and a “natural” foods aisle that may have been Giant’s response to competition from the Tenleytown Whole Foods.
Before that store was Whole Foods, it was Fresh Fields, and it opened in late 1995. The organic supermarket was unlike anything else, and according to the City Paper, was a lifestyle brand that attracted mostly male “adventure shoppers” to “the supermarket equivalent of the backyard barbecue.” (Some of us may have also enjoyed the plentiful free samples, as the prices were also out of the ordinary.) Whole Foods Market purchased the Fresh Fields chain in 1996.
Forest Hills Connection’s record of pre-1967 grocery shopping has a large gap that goes all the way back to the 1932 opening of a Piggly Wiggly at 4434 Connecticut. It closed in 1937. Seventy-seven years later, Mark Furstenburg opened Bread Furst in that very spot.
What are some of your neighborhood grocery shopping memories?