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

A key in the lock of a door. (File photo)
Sicamous residents say lack of long-term rentals detrimental to town

A couple who have lived in Sicamous for 27 years and want to stay might have to leave

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Brodie Stuart and her mom, Mikel Stuart, gather for the celebration at Parkview Elementary on June 18, 2021. (Zachary Roman - Eagle Valley News)
Three Shuswap parents honoured for combined 34 years of volunteering

Parkview Elementary parent advisory council members surprised by appreciative flash mob

Centennial Field in Blind Bay will be the site of Market by the Bay on Thursday nights starting June 24, 2021. (Columbia Shuswap Regional District photo)
Forty vendors expected for new Market by the Bay in the South Shuswap

Market starting June 24 to be situated at Centennial Field in Blind Bay

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to collect donations ahead of Kristy Handel’s 33-kilometre run for Chelaine McInroy (pictured) to cover costs for a new prosthetic leg after her June 12, 2021, surgery. (GoFundMe)
Salmon Arm woman runs to raise funds for friend’s new prosthetic leg

33-kilometre Run for Chelaine to help athlete cover medical costs from latest surgery

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Earls On Top at 211 Bernard Avenue in Kelowna. (Google Maps photo)
Downtown Kelowna’s Earls ordered closed after COVID-19 transmission

Earls on Top on Bernard Avenue will be closed from June 18 to June 27

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road reopened following motorcycle crash near Vernon

AIM Roads advises drivers to expect delays due to congestion

(File photo)
Penticton not holding Canada Day activities out of respect for Indigenous people

Cities across B.C. are cancelling the holiday after an increased spotlight on Canada’s dark history

Dereck Donald Sears. (Contributed/Crimestoppers)
Murder charge laid in relation to suspicious Kelowna death

Dereck Donald Sears is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Darren Middleton

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Most Read