What to Know
- Giant may sell eight stores in the D.C. area.
- Publix and Wegman's are moving into the area.
- Grocery stores are going for the high-end.
A year from now, your grocery shopping routine may be entirely different.
Workers at nine Giant stores in the D.C. suburbs say they are worried their stores could be closed or sold if the chain’s parent company merges with another European grocery conglomerate.
Six stores within 20 miles of Fredericksburg, Virginia could be affected, as could three Maryland locations, according to the union that represents local Giant workers. (See a list of the stores below.)
The union says it's worried the merger could lead federal regulators to force the sale or closure of these stores, because they would be close to other stores owned by the merged company. Some workers protested the possible changes Wednesday.
Giant says it has no final plans for the stores, however. Read the company's statement below.
Still, it's clear that grocery shopping is changing in a big way in the Washington area. Here's a look at which chains are making changes:
In addition to the possible merger, Giant opened a new store in 2014 near Tenleytown and has replaced a store in Burke, Virginia with one in Springfield, Virginia that is three times larger, at 57,716 square feet.
These new stores offer conventional groceries along with high-end deli offerings, wine bars and expanded organic and natural foods sections.
Safeway, at one point, was the grocery king of the District -- which may explain why Washingtonians nicknamed each of the stores and Safeway ditched or rehabbed the poorly named ones.
Safeway, like competitor Giant, is making a play for the high-end.
When a new Georgetown location opened in 2010, Senators showed up to drink wine and munch on fancy cheese, the Washington Post reported. The Secret Safeway near Dupont Circle, which had been invisible from the street, closed in 2010; the formerly-known-as Stinky Safeway in Petworth has been renovated into one of the best-looking in the city. A hard-to-find and dimly lit Tenleytown Safeway closed just last month.
Safeway did not respond to a request for plans about new stores, but Supermarket News reports the chain is looking for new opportunities in smaller buildings.
Whole Foods, the original supermarket obsession, is pretty much everywhere now, including four locations in D.C. proper and more in Bethesda and Alexandria. Plans are in the works to create the region's largest Whole Foods in Tyson’s Corner, according to the Fairfax County government.
There are no Wegmans in D.C., because there simply isn’t affordable space for the huge stores, which require a minimum of 75,000 square feet. That’s about 35,000 more square feet than the average supermarket, according to the Food Marketing Institute. But once you cross I-495, you can see what all the buzz is about in the Maryland and Virginia locations.
Tyson’s Corner, Virginia and Chantilly, Virginia are each expected to get a Wegmans in the future, according to their website -- an announcement that nearly broke the internet. It is America’s favorite grocery store, after all.
Publix can stir up almost as much excitement as Wegmans. The southern chain is looking for competition with Northern Virginia grocery stores, NBC Washington reported in March. Publix isn’t saying where those D.C.-area stores will be -- but a spokeswoman assured the public that they are coming.
However, not everything has to be big in the brave new world of groceries.
A new Forest Hills apartment complex plans to host a spinoff of Chevy Chase’s Broad Branch Market -- one example of a new breed of D.C. grocery stores. These stores are fairly compact (especially when compared to the superstore behemoths on this list) but well-decorated. The food focuses on ready to eat and gourmet options.
Giant #338 in Accokeek, Maryland
Giant #339 in La Plata, Maryland
A Giant location in Salisbury, Maryland (no number given)
Giant #234 in Stafford, Virginia
Giant #235 Fredericksburg, Virginia
Giant #243 in Stafford, Virginia
Giant #256 in Spotsylvania, Virginia
Giant #770 Fredericksburg, Virginia
Giant #789 in Falmouth, Virginia
Giant currently has no definitive plans to close stores, and they released this statement about the prospective changes: "Ahold USA, Inc., parent company of Giant of Maryland, continues to work toward the successful completion of the proposed merger between Ahold and the Delhaize Group. The merger is currently under review by the Federal Trade Commission, but it's too early to speculate on the outcome of the FTC review process. We do not anticipate any store closures as part of the FTC review process."