Okanagan Safeway store will be missed by many

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Okanagan Safeway store will be missed by many

Just Posted

Photo: pixabay.com
Morning Start: What does space smell like?

Your morning start for Wednesday, April 21, 2021

A Gardener’s Diary columnist Jocelyne Sewell looks at planting the perfect row of onions. (Stock)
A Gardener’s Diary: Thank God for gardening in COVID-19

Gardening columnist says nice days don’t mean the last of frost

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

(Photo of an RV posted to Flickr by user Greg Gjerdingen)
Vernon dumps sani-station temporarily

City councillors voted to close sani-station instead of relocating it temporarily

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
67 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty people in the region are hospitalized with the virus, 11 of whom are intensive care

A lone traveler enters the Calgary Airport in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
VIDEO: Trudeau defends Canada’s travel restrictions as effective but open to doing more

Trudeau said quarantine hotels for international air travellers will continue until at least May 21

Sheldon Pierre Louis’s winning mural design, “kʷu mr̓imstn, we are medicine.” (Facebook: Okanagan Nation Alliance)
Syilx artist selected as winner of Kelowna Gospel Mission’s mural project

Sheldon Pierre Louis was also awarded $10,000 for his winning submission, “kʷu mr̓imstn, we are medicine.”

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Suspension of Barney Williams would be reversed if he complies with certain terms

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Kate Budau’s flat tire outside of Glenmore Elementary School on Monday. (Contributed)
Kelowna mom searches for Good Samaritans who helped her change a tire

Woman looking for two dads who helped her after her tire popped in the Glenmore Elementary School drop-off area on Monday

Most Read