Safeway injects competition in Canton district Chain opening store today to challenge Super Fresh

August 16, 1996|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Residents of Baltimore's historic Canton neighborhood are excited about a new development in their community. The local supermarket is about to get something it has never had before: competition.

Safeway Inc., the second-largest supermarket chain in the Baltimore-Washington area in terms of sales and market share (the largest is Giant), will open a store today in the 2600 block of Boston St.

Analysts say the new grocer will create a much-needed corridor of competition in the area -- giving a nearby Super Fresh store, in the 2700 block of Foster Ave., a run for its money.

'Great competitive threat'

"If I were Super Fresh, I wouldn't want a Safeway to open in the area because it's a great competitive threat," said Jeff Metzger, publisher of Food World, a monthly food trade newspaper serving the Baltimore-Washington area. "There's no question that they'll lose some of their market share -- lose customers and lose sales."

Herb Whiteside, vice president of Super Fresh's Mid-Atlantic Group, would not comment on what effect Safeway's presence in the neighborhood might have on his store. He would say only that his company has "served the community for a lot of years and plans to continue to do so and offer our customers a great value."

Super Fresh is the fourth-largest supermarket chain in the Baltimore-Washington area, Metzger said. Its Foster Avenue store has been a fixture in Canton since 1965. But despite its longevity in the community, some Canton residents say they will become Safeway customers.

"I usually go to Super Fresh, which is about four blocks from my rowhouse, because there's no other market in the area," said Catherine Czarski, who does not own a car. A lifelong resident of Canton, she walks to the grocery store from her home in the 2700 block of Dillon St. nearly every day to pick up "odds and ends."

"But I'll be going to Safeway instead," she said, "because it's much closer to my home and I feel they'll have a larger variety of foods."

Said Metzger: "The Safeway is gigantic, relative to the other markets in the area, so it has a greater opportunity to offer more in terms of variety and sales."

'Area is underserved'

The 55,000-square-foot supermarket boasts a fresh seafood department, pharmacy and flower shop. It will be open Sunday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to midnight.

"We decided to open a store in Canton because the area is underserved," said Brian Dowling, spokesman for Safeway. The bTC company, which currently has 20 stores in Washington and one in Baltimore -- on Pratt Street -- is known in the industry for its commitment to urban areas.

"Some retailers shy away from venturing into the city because operating costs are higher in urban areas, but Safeway is clearly proactive as far as seeking inner-city opportunities," Metzger said.

"I'm really happy that the Safeway is opening," said Rhonda Rock, 31, who has lived on Binney Street in Canton for about five years and usually drives to Baltimore County to buy groceries. "Now I'll be able to shop closer to home."

Pub Date: 8/16/96

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