Craig Safeway to close its doors Oct. 12

Nate Waggenspack
The Craig Safeway
Nate Waggenspack

— A piece of paper was posted on the entrance to the Craig store Wednesday morning letting customers know the store would not honor its weekly ad.

The store opened its doors in 1929 and will close Oct. 12. Business hours have been shortened to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. until the closure.

Safeway’s corporate office issued a statement to the Craig Daily Press on Wednesday afternoon saying the store will close “because the store has not met the grocer’s expectations.”

“We evaluated the store extensively for the past few years and looked at options to improve its performance. Ultimately, our business analysis indicated that we needed to cease operations at that location,” Safeway spokeswoman Kris Staaf wrote in the statement.

Various areas of the local economy are expected to be impacted by the big-box store’s closure, including the job sector.

The Craig Safeway has a staff of 35, some of whom might transfer to other Safeway locations in Steamboat Springs or Grand Junction. The Starbucks inside the grocery store will also close, Staaf said.

Financially, the city shouldn’t take too big of a hit from loss of sales tax revenue, said Bruce Nelson, the city finance director.

“I don’t see it having a huge impact on sales tax revenues, because people are still going to have to buy their groceries,” Nelson said, adding that those sales numbers would likely migrate to City Market or Wal-Mart. “I think the big impact is going to be on the lost jobs.”

Sales tax revenues were up in the city of Craig this year from 2011 and 2012, according to city of Craig data. In August, the city reported $304,967.36 in sales tax, a 3 percent increase from August 2012.

Kent Neilson, a Craig resident, is the owner of the 38,000-square-foot store that is located at the Centennial Mall. He expressed disappointment at the decision.

“It’s definitely not good for me or the community,” Neilson said. “It will take something big like a farm and ranch store or another grocery store to fill that. It would have to be a big business, and being in Craig, I don’t know how that would work out.”

Safeway is currently on an open lease and will continue to pay rent to Neilson until that runs out, he said.

“They are responsible for upkeep on the building,” he said. “They probably feel like it’s cheaper for them to close and pay their obligations to me.”

Rumors of the store closing began to swirl in August, when the Safeway pharmacy was sold and closed.

Since then, the Safeway location has been constantly evaluated, Staaf said.

“We evaluate our stores constantly,” she said. “These decisions are not easy. They take time. There’s a lot that goes into it.”

Community members were concerned for what the store’s departure could mean for Craig.

“It’s really sad and it won’t be good for the mall,” said Nadine Daskiewicz, of the Downtown Business Association. “Safeway has been here a long time and they’ve got some things there that the other stores don’t have.”

As of Wednesday, most perishable items in the store were marked down by 25 percent. Staaf said that further markdowns are likely to come and that the store is not making any new product orders, so the stock will get more meager as the closure date nears.

The bigger concern for both Daskiewicz and Neilson is having a large, vacant space in the heart of town.

“I’d feel bad if it was another of the big stores closing and I wasn’t involved with it,” Neilson said. “It’s just not good for our community.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or

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