Dennis McLeod (left) is the last official customer to go through the downtown Vernon Canada Safeway Saturday, Nov. 23, rung through by the last official working employee of the store, Sean Reid. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Dennis McLeod (left) is the last official customer to go through the downtown Vernon Canada Safeway Saturday, Nov. 23, rung through by the last official working employee of the store, Sean Reid. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Downtown Vernon Safeway closes forever

Staff shed tears, hugs, laughs, champagne as 54-year-old business closes; will rebrand as FreshCo

The last order through the last open till – Till 5 – at the downtown Canada Safeway in Vernon belongs to Dennis McLeod, a frugal Scottish-Canadian who loved the deals he scored.

One bag of handpicked peppers from the produce section: $1; one bag of handpicked bananas: $1; two 255 gram tubs of strawberry style cream cheese, at 50 cents each: $1.

Total bill: $3.

READ MORE: Vernon’s downtown Safeway will be missed by many

“Based on the costs, I’d say being the last customer is superb,” said McLeod who, at 6:05 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, was the last official customer of Vernon’s downtown Safeway, which is shutting down after 54 years of service to rebrand in the spring of 2020 as FreshCo, a division of the parent Sobey’s company.

“The honest truth is I’m sad to see this place shut down,” said McLeod, describing himself as a semi-regular customer. “I feel bad for the older people. This was a shopping source for them in their neighbourhood. A lot of them could just walk here. They depend on this store for their supplies.”

McLeod edged out Starbucks barista Robyn Miller for the honour of last customer. Miller, a student at UBC Okanagan, put through a 100-gram bag of dark chocolate enrobed mandarins and a four-pack of Dentyne Ice gum, to clerk Sean Reid.

“I loved working in this store,” said Miller who spent two years working at the Starbucks inside Safeway, and worked every Christmas holiday season. “It feels like everyone is family.”

Reid is also going down in history as the last official working employee at the downtown Safeway, putting orders through and bagging them until McLeod went through at 6:05. He’s also a UBCO student who has worked at Safeway part-time and full-time for about a year.

“It feels a little sad,” said Reid of the impending store closure. He plans to focus on school and look for work in January. “I’m hopeful for the future.”

Close to 75 former and current employees gathered for 6 p.m. – the store’s official closing time Saturday – to say their goodbyes or share hugs, tears and laughter. One woman was handing out individual carnations to employees and customers as a thank-you.

Champagne corks could be heard popping and all gathered near customer service to hear Sean Watson give one last address to staff, calling them all “amazing.”

It’s estimated close to 100 million customers were served at the downtown 30th Avenue location since it opened in 1965.

FreshCo, said store first assistant manager Darren Bognar,”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.”

That includes no sitting area for customers to enjoy coffee or a meal.

READ MORE: WATCH: Downtown Vernon Safeway says thanks with lunch by donation

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

A temporary pharmacy trailer has been set up on the south wall of the downtown Safeway and will continue to provide services now that the store is closed.


@VernonNews
roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

(Pixabay.com photo)
No COVID-19 baby boom in Summerland

Pandemic has not resulted in surge in births in 2020 and 2021

(Black Press file photo)
EDITORIAL: Curtailing attempts at scams

The true total of losses from all scams and frauds could be much higher than the figures on file

People at the beach in front of Discovery Bay Resort on Tuesday, July 14. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Heat wave forecast for Okanagan-Shuswap

Temperatures are forecast to hit record breaking highs this week

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

The Pierre family, an Indigenous family, once lived in what is now downtown Summerland. Today, Pierre Drive is named in honour of the family. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Pierre family played role in Summerland’s history

Downtown Summerland was once Penticton Indian Reserve #3

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Photograph By MICHAEL POTESTIO.KTW
Former Kamloops security gaurd wants job back after kicking incident caught on video

Rick Eldridge quit when a video surfaced of him kicking a man outside a facility for homeless

People participated in a walk to honour the 215 children found at a former Kamloops residential school, as well as residential school survivors. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Kelowna marks National Indigenous Peoples’ Day with walk to remember Kamloops 215

“Let’s speak the truth and deal with the truth, and heal.”

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

A home on Cameo Drive sustained major damage due to an early morning fire Monday, June 21. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
UPDATE: Fire sparked during Vernon home renovation

Heavy black smoke from Cameo Drive home, no one inside

Most Read