Okanagan Safeway store will be missed by many

The Vernon grocery store officially closes doors at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23

When Doreen Weir first came to Vernon it didn’t take her long to find her favourite place for coffee – a place she’s visited faithfully for the past 17 years.

The Starbucks sitting area inside the downtown Safeway is little more than a nook beside the grocery store’s entrance, but it’s been a place for Weir to sit with friends and make new ones on a daily basis.

At 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, the Safeway will close its doors for the last time. Weir sits with her coffee in front of a portrait of herself that was plastered to the window many years ago. Above her image is the nickname she’s earned throughout her years of patronage, which tells you all you need to know about her connection to the store. It reads ‘Doreen the Queen.’

“I’m kind of sad because I had a lot of people come to have coffee with me here,” said Weir. People have been coming in steadily on the store’s last day. Some of them may have needed groceries, though the shelves are almost completely barren. Others may have just wanted to chat with Weir in her dedicated corner for one last time.

“People come up and say hi and they come sit with me and they give me a big hug, and they say they’re all going to miss me.”

Weir lives just around the corner from the Safeway in an area that’s home to many seniors, who will soon need to travel further to get groceries.

A few wrapped flowers sit on the table in front of Weir, given to her by friends who know how much the store meant to her. The woman who works at the flower shop came by with a flower in hand and thanked her for shopping at the store. A few days ago another woman came by and gave her a pair of gloves, a scarf and a toque.

Weir will have to find a new place for coffee in downtown Vernon, but she’s glad she won’t have to do so alone.

“I’m going to miss all the workers (but) I got all their phone numbers and I gave them my phone number and they’re going to keep in touch and we’ll all go out for coffee,” she said.

READ MORE: Downtown Vernon Safeway closure an end of an era

For Darren Bognar, the store’s first assistant, Doreen the Queen is one of many regular customers he’ll miss seeing every day.

“I’ve seen her since I started working here almost four years ago and she’s been someone who’s always been a staple in the store,” said Bognar.

“If you were to go into every grocery store around here, close your eyes and go in the front door and just use your ears, you could tell that this store is the Vernon downtown Safeway.”

Owned by Sobeys, the Safeway has been in operation for 54 years and will reopen as FreshCo – a lower-cost Sobeys grocery chain – in the spring.

“Fresh Co is kind of a less expensive banner that’s going to be a great thing for this area, but I believe that with that some people feel that some things will be lost,” said Bognar.

Notably, the blueprints for the new FreshCo don’t include a sitting area for customers to stay for a coffee or a meal.

One thing that will be staying the same is the management, and Bognar thinks owner/operator Sean Watson will be able to carry over the aspects of the store that regular customers keep coming back for.

“Sean’s very customer service focused, so he’ll do whatever he can to incorporate what customers are looking for.”

Some but not all of the employees will be transferring to Safeway’s other location in Vernon.

A temporary pharmacy trailer has been set up on the south wall of the Safeway and will continue to provide services after the Safeway closes.

READ MORE: Business savy volunteers sought in North Okanagan

READ MORE: More job cuts fall on Tolko employees, not just Vernon


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

 

Just Posted

Winter Solstice is coming, to Penhenge on Dec. 21

The annual gathering at the top of Munson Mountain celebrates the longest night of the year.

Vee’s go one-and-one in weekend games against Vernon

The Vees took a 0-2 loss on Friday in Vernon and came back to Penticton for a 4-1 win on Saturday.

Old Christmas card has ties to Summerland agriculture

Card was sent by former director of Summerland Research Station

Auntie Says: Be thoughtful of others around this time of year

Christmas and holidays in general can serve as painful reminders of loss for some

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

In Photos: CP Rail Holiday Train lights up the Shuswap

The stop on the train’s Canada-wide journey came with a $5,500 donation to local food bank.

Penticton Vees earn split with Vernon Vipers

Vees victorious 4-1 at home in back end of home-and-home series

B.C. VIEWS: Hunger does not end with the season

Despite innovations in food distribution, the need is still there in B.C. communities

Kelowna RCMP officer suspended after allegedly sexting assault victim

RCMP confirm investigation but hold back details

Legendary primatologist coming to Okanagan

Dame Jane Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, will present in Vernon Tuesday, March 24

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Frosty will have to pay rent to stay on Okanagan sidewalk next Christmas

Vernon Teach and Learn allowed to keep Frosty up, but will need a permit come January 1

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Most Read