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.

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

Just Posted

Vees goalkeeper Yaniv Perets stands watch while Tyler Ho takes the puck around the back of the net on Nov. 7. The BCHL press release did not name the player who tested positive.(Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton Vees quarantining after player tests positive for COVID-19

The team, staff and billets are isolating while they are tested

Penticton’s Landmark Cinema has closed for the time being due to the coronavirus pandemic.(Google Maps photo)
Get a true home theatre experience with take-out popcorn

Landmark Cinemas in Penticton will be opening their concession stand for take-out orders

Gas prices haven’t dropped below a dollar a litre since February this year. (Danah Phillips photo)
Gas prices haven’t dropped below a dollar a litre since February this year. (File)
No Black Friday deals for gas prices

You may want to hold off on refilling your tank if you can

Dentice di Frasso, a member of Italian nobility, once owned land in Summerland. (Contributed)
Italian nobility family once lived in Summerland

Dentice di Frasso and his family owned land in the Prairie Valley area

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
47 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

1,538 total cases, 399 are active, ten in hospital

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Vees goalkeeper Yaniv Perets stands watch while Tyler Ho takes the puck around the back of the net on Nov. 7. The BCHL press release did not name the player who tested positive.(Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton Vees quarantining after player tests positive for COVID-19

The team, staff and billets are isolating while they are tested

(Pixabay)
‘We need to be empathetic’; Kelowna support worker speaks out after disabled individual denied haircut

Individual with severe autism denied service at a Kelowna hair salon for not wearing mask

Parents are urged to be on alert after a potential child abduction attempt took place near Armstrong Elementary School Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. (amsas/neden photo)
Possible child abduction attempt at North Okanagan elementary school prompts warning

A letter from the school’s principal urges parents to be on high alert

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COLUMN: Anti-maskers’ message misses the mark

Following COVID-19 restrictions now could determine just how happy our holidays are

The Interior Wildfire Rehabilitation Society is looking for 10-15 acres to house a rehab centre for injured and orphaned wildlife like deer and moose calves. (Black Press file photo)
Okanagan group look for property to house wildlife rehab centre

The Interior Wildlife Rehabilitation Society is looking for 10 acres for injured/orphaned animals

Addie Pafiolis with her son, Theo, who died just five days after his birth due to a heart condition in 2017. For the past four years, Addie and her husband Chris have been supporting local families around the holiday season in Theo's memory. (Contributed)
Okanagan couple supporting local families in son’s memory this Christmas

Theo Pafiolis was five days old when he passed away due to a heart condition; now, his parents are supporting others in his name

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Most Read