Harper's Choice grocery store opens today

March 11, 1998|By Dana Hedgpeth | Dana Hedgpeth,SUN STAFF

A 55,000-square-foot Safeway opens today in the newly renovated Harper's Choice Village Center, which has gone more than two years without a grocery store.

The store, which is the company's largest in Howard County, includes a pharmacy, full-service deli, bakery, seafood counter and flower shop.

It opens amid concerns among merchants and others for safety at the center after a weekend incident in which two Safeway employees were robbed at gunpoint outside the store.

About 11: 30 p.m. Saturday, Howard County police said, the workers were walking toward the store on Harper's Farm Road when they were accosted and robbed of their cash, police said. In the last few months, the 27-year-old village center has undergone renovations that make it larger, more accessible and better lighted. About 150 parking spaces will be added when renovations are completed this spring.

Since the center's previous supermarket anchor, a Valu Food, closed in 1995, residents have gone to other village centers for their grocery and other shopping.

Some merchants said they have lost as much as 35 percent of their business over the last few years while waiting for a new grocery store. Safeway announced it would come to the center in May 1996.

With the opening of the Safeway, many merchants are expecting the center to be revitalized.

"We think it's going to be a great location," said Craig Muckle, a Safeway spokesman. Safeway has four other stores in Ellicott City and Columbia, including one in the Long Reach Village Center.

Pub Date: 3/11/98

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