After 80 years, Safeway store is leaving a void |

After 80 years, Safeway store is leaving a void

Nick Coltrain
Shannon Litz/Nevada Appeal

Back in 1954, Safeway was the grocery store to shop at, Nancy Sweetland said.

Back then, a teenage Sweetland would tag along with her mother to the store. It had only the basics, she said, especially compared to today’s stores, but it still was the best place in a town of not 8,000 people.

And more than 50 years later, a 72-year-old Sweetland still calls Safeway her go-to grocery store – or will until Nov. 23, when Carson City will be left without a Safeway for the first time in more than 80 years.

Former State Archivist Guy Rocha said that, by his research, it’s the third-oldest continuously operating business in the area.

Said Sweetland: “I figured it was going to be here forever.”

Western-gear chain store C-A-L Ranch is planning to take the grocery store’s spot at 2035 N. Carson St. in April, but it is questionable whether it will fill a void left by what Rocha called a “landmark” institution.

“It’s not just a grocery store, it is the grocery store, you know?” Rocha said, adding later: “It was really kind of iconic in this community, and I guess I’d never really thought I’d see the day when we didn’t have Safeway.”

Safeway’s director of public and government affairs, Susan M. Houghton, said the company decided to pull out of Carson City because it couldn’t agree on lease terms with the property owner.

“Given the current economic situation, we obviously were looking to have a lease reflect that,” Houghton wrote in an email. “It did not and was not able to be negotiated.”

Safeway also appeared to face stiff competition in the area. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Carson City in 2008 had the highest number of grocery stores per 1,000 people in the state, as measured by county and in counties with five or more grocery stores.

Carson City – while having the highest population density in the state, thus skewing the comparison – had 2.35 grocery stores per 10,000 people. Clark County and Washoe County had about 1.4 and 1.5 grocery stores per 10,000 people, respectively.

The only neighboring county with more stores per capita that year was Nevada County, Calif., with 2.8 per 10,000 people.


Grocery stores per capita by county (2008)

Carson City 2.35192

Clark 1.39961

Douglas 1.31173

Lyon 0.75739

Storey 0

Washoe 1.55257

El Dorado, Calif. 1.86431

Placer, Calif. 1.61271

Nevada, Calif. 2.77501

*Per 10,000 population. Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Environment Atlas