30.10.10

Goodbye, Safeway #705

I’ve purchased groceries and household supplies at Safeway #705 in Mountain View on Shoreline intermittently for four years (regularly since March 2009). It’s the closest grocery store to my apartment and carries nearly all the groceries I need, so I rarely go elsewhere.

I travel primarily by bike, and I usually walk my bike inside with me when I buy groceries at Safeway #705. This is much more efficient if I’m only getting a handful of items, and I don’t have to worry about a wheel or a seat walking off. At all times of all days of the week, no employee has ever looked askance. (There are no automated checkout lines, so I always walk by a few employees when I pay.) I’ve never been asked to leave my bike outside.

Not until today.

Today I was told Safeway #705 doesn’t allow bikes inside it. I replied that I’d walked my bike in regularly, to no avail. So I went and locked up the bike, then returned to finish my little bit of shopping. (I was fortunate to have a lock, since I usually carry it to Safeway only when buying an especially large amount of groceries.)

I understand why a store might wish to forbid awkward, bulky bikes. (Still, they’re less bulky and much more maneuverable than carts.) But this makes Safeway #705 quite unusual for the area: no other grocery store has forbidden my bike. I have no reason but convenience to particularly visit Safeway #705. Other grocery stores as little as half a mile further away (even other Safeway stores!) have no problem with me taking my bike inside. Safeway #705 can exclude me, but I can retaliate: I can stop shopping there, and I can use this bully pulpit to tell others.

So in the future, Safeway #705, expect to see far less of me, and my money, than you have in the past. I may rarely show up when I especially need convenience (only if I have my lock), but you won’t be my default stop for groceries. I can suffer minor inconvenience to make my preference for bicycle flexibility known. Who knows? Maybe you’ll see light here; I wouldn’t bet on it, but I’d love to be proven wrong.

12 Comments »

  1. Hello ex-Safeway#705-client. I am writing from nowhere in Germany to nowhere in the USA(I guess). I live here on an island and may somehow understand your position, cause we got equal circumstances (only one m..f… shop on the whole island).
    I desire your way of using the WWW. will succeed.
    Thanks for having written down your opinion, so I know I’m not alone.
    regards from the Island Reichenau (Lake Constance

    Comment by Herbert — 31.10.10 @ 03:36

  2. This might be more effective if you also drop this text off as a comment at the store, since I doubt they read your blog. ;)

    Comment by Boris — 31.10.10 @ 06:42

  3. Wow.

    I can easily understand choosing not to patronize a particular store because they don’t have convenient places to lock your bike. However, complaining that one won’t let you walk your bike inside seems ridiculous to me. Among many other reasons, the store probably doesn’t want to clean up road gunk and tire marks off the floor. (And even if *your* bike miraculously remains clean or you leave it outside when not, if they let yours in then they’ll have a harder time keeping the rest out.)

    You might want to think this rant through a little more. This makes you come across as a militant cyclist, which hurts your cause and that of other cyclists.

    Comment by Anonymous — 31.10.10 @ 09:31

  4. Wow.

    Where I live, no one would even think of bringing a bike inside a store. Drive-ins are talked about but not seen, mom-and-pop stores are too small (or too densely packed with customers) to be practical for bikes inside, and supermarkets (even small ones — “supermarkets” come in all sizes hereabouts) have turnstiles at the entrance.

    Comment by Tony Mechelynck — 31.10.10 @ 10:30

  5. Eh … never heard of a health code (or whatever they called it in the USA)? Bringing a bike isn’t very hygienic especially in the fresh food section. You can’t bring dogs in either. Or skateboards. Or skates. It’s a very thin line between what is allowed and what not (I know a shop where even electric wheelchairs are not allowed, but regular ones are), there will always be a discussion. But you as a regular person, can easily leave your bike outside while shopping !

    Comment by Jo Hermans — 31.10.10 @ 13:07

  6. May your economic vote be felt, no matter how arbitrary the request is.

    Comment by Havvy — 31.10.10 @ 14:20

  7. The economic impact of failing to shop at Safeway #705 isn’t as high as you think if you just patronize the Safeway down the street… but I agree with Anonymous on this one: complaining that you can’t take your bike in the store is a bit… well… whiny, frankly.

    Complaining that they don’t have bike locks is another issue (and a valid one, assuming they want to promote sustainability), but I suspect you won’t win many over with your argument.

    BTW, if you want fresher veggies-and-other-tiems, I recommend Milk Pail Market on the corner of California and San Antonio; I’m willing to bet the even have a bike rack!

    (That shopping center also has a Trader Joe’s on the other side of it, if you’re into that sort of thing…)

    Comment by Preed — 31.10.10 @ 15:21

  8. The one vote that counts is where you decide to spend your money. While I agree with the other subbies about the limited impact of your prohibition of #705, stick to your guns mang. All stores in my area; Burger King, King Soopers, Safeway, the local Yugoslav-owned liquor store, just to name a few, permit me and my bikes to park just inside the door, as long as it’s brief. They recognize me whether I’m in my truck, on my motorcycles or on a bike and always treat me with a smile and a friendly hello. Granted, I always ask before the bicycle is brought inside, but the familiarity is a welcome luxury. I would contact the manager and ask for a concession, you would be surprised what business are willing to do to insure a repeat customer. Keep at it mang, its not like your asking for major concessions, just a little neighborly courtesy.

    Comment by Nate — 31.10.10 @ 23:09

  9. I figured I’d start with the least-effort approach of talking plus tweeting. But I’ll probably move on from that in short order when I have the time (which I didn’t, today, due to Halloween).

    Comment by Jeff — 01.11.10 @ 00:06

  10. I was careful to say that, in this area, not permitting a bike inside is what’s unusual — I can well understand that customs may differ elsewhere. And it would have been different if they’d been up-front about this policy from the start, rather than never enforcing it despite dozens of clear opportunities over well over a year’s time. The arbitrariness of the enforcement is part of what I find frustrating.

    I don’t believe the tone of this is militant, merely logically deliberate. They’re free to do and permit whatever they desire; one blog post hardly infringes upon that right.

    Comment by Jeff — 01.11.10 @ 00:13

  11. Since people seem to think this is an unfeeling demand for accommodation, I should clarify: I didn’t, and don’t, indiscriminately and without thought take my bike inside. If I expect not to just walk in, walk an aisle or two (while walking along the back length of the store), and walk out, I’ll leave the bike outside. If I’m getting more than I can comfortably carry until I can get outside to repack to put it in a backpack, I’ll leave the bike outside. If it’s raining and the bike’s a mess, I’ll leave it outside. (Non-Bay Area residents should be aware that there’s essentially no rain roughly from April through mid-October, so it is quite reasonable to not worry about this, at the right time of year.) If it’s especially crowded inside, I’ll leave it outside. And when I’m inside, I do my best to stay to the outside of aisles to leave plenty of space for people to move around me — exactly as anyone with a cart would do.

    Part of the equation in keeping a bike reasonable is recognizing that you can’t let it interfere with others’ shopping. I always make an effort to do this, and if I can’t for any reason, I leave it outside without qualms.

    Comment by Jeff — 01.11.10 @ 00:27

  12. Jeff, I’m all for voting with your wallet, but I have to agree with the others, this just sounds whiny to me. Being able to take your bike into stores is a privilege, not a right—I wouldn’t have even considered doing so without being given explicit permission (say, by asking an employee if it was permitted). Did you do so?
    Had you seen other people bring their bikes into the store before you?

    I think you’ll have much better luck of discussing your position with the store manager and my expressing your displeasure directly. If he’s smart and rational, he might reverse the store’s position after listening to your arguments. If not, well, hopefully he’s smart enough to understand that he lost a customer. I don’t think you’re going to convince many people (if any) not to shop there because they don’t permit bikes inside.

    Comment by Adam Rosenfield — 01.11.10 @ 18:14

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