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Calgary Safeways

I wanted to buy some chicken breasts tonight at around 7PM (I eat dinner a little late). I tried THREE Safeways and all of them were either close to or completely out of chicken:
Garrison Woods - had one pack of legs and a few whole broiler chickens
RIchmond Rd & 37th - a few mega-packs of 10 breasts
Westhills - no chicken at all!
To top it off, none of them had anyone staffing the meat counter, so I couldn't ask for some chicken from the back of the store, even if they had any.

Was there a run on chicken this week, or is Safeway just generally have serious problems? Am I stupid to be shopping "late" on a Sunday? And what is with the disgusting fishy smell radiating from the Garrison and Richmond/37th Safeway seafood counters?

In the end, I went to the Co-op downtown and they were fully stocked, and fully staffed.

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  1. i don't know, but there have been days when i've went to co-op, superstore, and safeway to get chicken, and they all either had none or they looked gross.

    their chickens all come from different companies (e.g. co-op is maple leaf, safeway is lilydale, etc.). at co-op, they said there was a strike or something at the plant.

    but yea, it seems that everytime we are gonna make a nice dinner, we have to go to 2 or 3 stores to get all of the ingredients, cause we can't find a store that always has everything we need haha.

    but the sobey's by our place always seems to have what we need, and it's fresher.

    1. I ran into an acquaintance at another grocery store...he works at Safeway...I was wondering why he didn't shop at his own store. He told me would NEVER buy groceries for his family at Safeway. What does that tell you?

      I heard some rumblings that a Whole Foods Market was looking at opening a store in Calgary. I suggest everyone go on their website and encourage them to do so.

      Here's the link, go to Contact us via Email (under Choose Topic:) Store Location Request.


      1 Reply
      1. re: Ice712

        I agree we definately could use one in the Loop

      2. Strange. We get some chicken parts from Costco and they've had plenty of Lillydale chicken this week. We usually buy whole local chickens from Amaranth and they had quite a few too.

        Forget about Whole Foods, I want a Trader Joe's here and I want it now! :o)

        1. that's happened to me before as well. that's why i always buy meat at co-op downtown or sunterra. i've heard lots of rumblings from safeway staff about not shopping there as well.

          1. The Garrison Safeway is my go-to... I also ran into a chicken shortage on Wednesday last week (April 15th).

            I made the mistake of going to the Midtown Co-Op on Sunday for a few items... it'll be difficult going to the Garrison Safeway again...

            1. I do most of my grocery shopping in the late evening because that's when hub is home and the kids are in bed. From my experience... if I want to make sure something perishable is available then I go in the early morning 1-2 hours after opening. (7-9am for Superstore). I shop all the stores and imho Safeway and Co-op are among the most expensive regular grocery stores (Sunterra and the Organic boutiques are a different animal).

              The reason the Co-op was fully stocked and fully staffed is they can afford it, given the what 20% more they charge on average?

              18 Replies
              1. re: maplesugar

                co-op is still less expensive than safeway.

                i live very close to the garrison safeway but i avoid it as much as possible, only for items that were forgotten...

                1. re: pants

                  True, but both feel like highway robbery compared to Superstore. I'll be the first to admit Superstore has it's own issues(overcrowded aisles, and produce can be hit or miss...although ours has improved lately) but it's definitely cheaper.

                  I buy Lactancia butter sticks, and at Superstore I can expect to pay an average $5.49 for the box of 4. At Safeway that same box costs $6.25 or so if memory serves. Right now Safeway has a pasta special 2 for $5 for the Catelli Healthy Harvest/Smart pastas. Superstore's regular price is $1.97 each. Superstore for 3 items $9.43 Safeway: $11.25 difference $1.82...

                  but will I pay a premium at CFM for tomatoes and cucumbers, yes, because they TASTE like tomatoes and cucumbers... Never said I was totally logical ;)

                  1. re: maplesugar

                    Lactancia is usually in the 5.49 range at Co-op. But then, I am willing to pay the premium to be able to walk to a store and get everything in one place - hence my loyalty to the Midtown Co-op.

                  2. re: pants

                    I don't agree. I know for sure that the following are cheaper at Safeway: nonperishable goods I buy (rice, peanut butter, etc), deli items, fish (not that I would buy fish at Safeway), sandwich bread (Co-Op's is better anyway).
                    For some reason I'm not very mindful of prices when buying produce. Maybe that's where Co-op is cheaper?

                    1. re: 23skidoo

                      You certainly have to comparison shop these days. Though I'm a big fan of Superstore, I find their prices have been creeping up slowly -- some items I've purchased there I've happened across at Co-op and/or Safeway and the prices are the same, or virtually the same.

                      1. re: sweeterpea

                        Don't forget that food prices have seen their greatest inflation in over 20 years recently...

                    2. re: pants

                      I find Co-op more expensive than Safeway always... granted I don;t buy meat from either but I really hate shopping at Co-op... I find there lack or organic products sad and I hate the way the stores are laid out... they are very old school.. mid town market aside. But if you are at mid town, why not venture down a block and buy meat that tastes like meat from Community?

                      1. re: CookieGal

                        Does Community sell non-frozen meat?

                        1. re: 23skidoo

                          good question...

                          they don't really no.. but most grocers sell "non frozen meat" which has all been previously frozen, so essentially frozen is fresher.,unless you are buying direct from a producer or butcher.. but Safeway for example sources meat from all over the continent which has all been previously frozen. Blush Lane sells non frozen organic meat at both locations.

                          For the very rare meat purchase I make. I don't mind thawing it or planning ahead to cook it.

                          1. re: CookieGal

                            "most grocers sell "non frozen meat" which has all been previously frozen"

                            Either you are mostly wrong or "most grocers" are breaking the law by not providing the required CFIA disclosure.

                            Where do you get your inside knowledge?


                            1. re: Scary Bill

                              perhaps CookieGal is referring to the meat/fish on offer that's labeled "previously frozen" I saw a lot of that as I was picking up things last night for our superbowl party

                              1. re: maplesugar

                                True maple, we shall see, it may have been that subset rather than all meat/seafood. The specific comment that Safeway meat "has all been previously frozen" would be misleading though.

                            2. re: CookieGal

                              You're completely wrong. Previously frozen meat has to be labelled as such, and at Safeway and other grocery stores, most of the meat has never been frozen.

                              1. re: 23skidoo

                                I didn't comment at all about how it was labelled so I am not sure how this thread ended up as a labelling requirement discussion.. I am just saying.. in the meat coolers (NOT FREEZERS) Much of the meat is still thawing, which you can visually see, and it has obviously been frozen.

                                1. re: CookieGal

                                  Do you mean it somehow got frozen in the cooler? And then the cooler got less cool so it thawed?

                                  Previously frozen meat needs to be labelled as such. If you think that you are certain the meat was previously frozen and is being sold as fresh, then call AHS and they will do an inspection.

                                  1. re: Shazam

                                    I've experienced the same as CookieGal. Not sure what supermarket. I suspect the reefer, an air conditioned trailer, was set too cold.

                                  2. re: CookieGal

                                    Cookie, in all liklihood the meat you can see hanging in coolers, particularly beef, is ageing, not thawing. I think when looking at meat hanging in a cooler, at a distance and through glass (my assumptions) it may be very difficult to distinguish frozen from "fresh" (ageing).

                        2. re: maplesugar

                          I was going to ask about Co-Op prices...

                          I may not be the best grocery shopper when it comes to price per item, but I sure did feel that my Sunday dinner cost more than usual (about 15%)... was it just me?

                        3. I was in the Us last week and my weak theory about Calgary being the most expensive chicken place was verified (weakly of course). Chicken is the cheap meat on the menu, whenever there was any dish where you could pick beef or chicken it was way cheaper for chicken, the grocery stores were way cheaper, at least 50% of the price up here.

                          I don't know what it is and safeway is the worst for some reason, don't even buy breasts from there anymore, just deal with the greasiness of thighs and other bits.

                          It is puzzling.

                          1. I hate that I can't get everything at one place. I buy meat and some produce at Costco but general groceries at Safeway for the air miles. We're probably paying more but we do use them. I go to Superstore for Gigantico burgers but I hate the line-ups at the checkouts. Oh, and the pharmacy at Costco has the best service and is half the price for an over the counter med I use regularly. I cannot believe I just said Costco has the best service for anything but the Beacon Hill Costco pharmacy has some incredible staff. Both Superstore and Shoppers have made serious prescription errors.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: sharonanne

                              I'll agree about the Superstore pharmacy -- they accidentally gave me double strength pills which I took for about a month (they look almost identical to the correct pills and it's a long story of how I found out about it). They were extremely apologetic, but I took my business to the Costco pharmacy.

                            2. The prices are not competitive at all and the product stinks. I come out of there feeling used and dirty. I never see people doing there weekly grocery shop at either. I think people go there just to pick up a couple of things when they have to. Sobeys or Costco are way better options. Why don't we have Loblaws, or Provigo or any of the Eastern grocery stores?
                              Has anyone ever seen Lamb in Coop or Safeway or anything other than the most standard cuts of Beef. Pork and Chicken.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: Busted Flat in Marda Loop

                                I've bought lamb many times from the downtown ("midtown market") co-op. They have a good selection, and staff the butcher counter with people who will actually talk to you and make cuts of meat for you.

                                Isn't Loblaws the same thing as Superstore? We don't need more of those here.

                                1. re: 23skidoo

                                  Midtown Co-op is my 'go to' place for most things now.

                                2. re: Busted Flat in Marda Loop

                                  Superstore is owned by Loblaws, and we don't have Loblaws for the same reason why there are no Safeways, Co-ops, Overwaiteas in Toronto. It just doesn't work that way.

                                  We have lamb all the time so I guess my partner is either conjuring the lamb magically, or those terrified bleats coming from the garage aren't the crackheads I assumed them to be- or we're actually eating crackhead and not lamb....

                                  1. re: Busted Flat in Marda Loop

                                    i get lamb, veal, bison (various cuts of each) at co-op all the time - but i would only buy it at the midtown market location.

                                    i still wish we had save-on foods/urban fare - edmonton does(did in the case of urban fare)

                                    1. re: pants

                                      i think that out of the big chains, co-op has the best meat counter, in terms of quality and selection (although IMO co-op fresh fish selection totally sucks). sobeys and costco are good, too, but everything is pre-packaged so you can't pick which cuts you want, and how much they weigh, etc.

                                      1. re: pants

                                        There is an urban fare here on Fairmont drive SE... I doesn't have the fancy fire oven or chef service, but at least when it opened they sold all sorts.. kangaroo, shark, quail...
                                        I think they realized they missed the mark, and have changed many of the product lines.
                                        JM> they might be selling crack heads at this location!

                                      2. re: Busted Flat in Marda Loop

                                        Musta had a bad day.

                                        Superstore is my go-to. Prices are almost always better, some with distance. It is an "Eastern" store in a lot of ways (I recently moved here from Toronto) It does not carry a lot of local stuff, like game or Alberta lamb. It does however carry President's Choice which means ther are a lot of house branded products other stores won't have, like real Italian bronzo pasta at ridiculously low prices, etc.You will find a good seafood selection, excellent pork, a good range of vegetables (improving over time in quality as noted by an earlier poster) and the best, bar none, bread made by any Calgary supermarket..

                                      3. I live in Erlton so the Misson Safeway is the closest grocery store. Unfortunately it is pretty bad. You have to check the expiry dates on everything you buy otherwise you will get groceries long past their best before date. This is a VERY high volume store with no reason to have old stock. I suspect that Safeway uses it as a dumping ground for soon to expire product.

                                        I have bought roast chicken here and it is ALWAYS dry - like eating cardboard. One day I came in early - 3 PM. The warmer was full of roast chickens for the 5 PM crowd - just a bit early. l can see whay they are always dry.

                                        I now buy chicken from Coop midtown. They write the time they are put on the warmer so you can always get the freshest. World of difference.

                                        In general, Safeway is garbage. Meats are low quality. Don't even think about buying fish.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Metatron

                                          I go to the Safeway at Garrison Woods, and I purchased their ground beef yesturday and when I opened the packaged, you can smell that..."it's gonna go bad" beef smell. I honestly couldn't believe it.... because it's "Safeway", it's expensive compared to elsewhere. I have to admit Costco's meat section is quite good, the only problem is, is that they do have huge portions.

                                          1. re: Metatron

                                            safeway is terrible for having expired food - it's not just that location, it's every location. that happened to me in vancouver when i lived there too, and same thing, a busy location. tried to buy fresh noodles for stir-fry, every package had mold.....

                                          2. Safeway has gone downhill, and its expensive. We live right by the Garrison Woods Safeway, so me almost have to shop there out of shear convenience. We have stopped buying ground beef altogether from Safeway. Not that its gone bad, but that its full of grisle and kneecaps and such. So we do buy fish from Safeway, which seems fine, and steaks, but for ground beef and chicken, its a special trip to Bon Ton Meats. Their ground beef is sooooo good after having Safeway. It tastes like ground steak.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: sackman

                                              unfortunately that's my closest grocery store as well and we needed potatoes so figured it was safe to get that- i might add only bakers available(co-op usually has 3 or 4 varieties). the meat area smelled so bad of rotten fish, it was horrible

                                              1. re: pants

                                                Yes! It's like 10 metres in every direction from the seafood counter smells like that.
                                                I thought it was just Garrison Woods, but Richmond/37th 1 mile over has the same problem.

                                                1. re: 23skidoo

                                                  I stopped shopping at one of the Safeways in Edmonton when there was a gag inducing smell that was near the hot food cart (chicken) or soup stand. It smelled like rotten meat mixed with nursing home with a sanitation problem. A brief return visit a month later, still there. Not an area easily avoided because it's right near one of the main entrances and at the foot of the dairy aisle.

                                            2. I find safeway's in calgary carry very expensive poor quality produce. I travel between Edmonton and Calgary and prices are better in Edmonton.

                                              1. When I lived downtown (downtown downtown!) I mainly shopped at the Kensington Safeway but also shopped at the one on 8th Street and 11th Ave SW. The Kensington one is fine, although they often had limited produce, and the 11th Ave one was pretty much what you'd expect from an inner-city grocery store. However, I absolutely preferred that crappy Safeway to the "Coop Midtown Market", where produce was always way more expensive and their selection of certain other products (like canned beans) was painfully limited. Newsflash! There are more beans than just chickpeas and black beans! However, downtown Coop wins for cute boys, hands down. I just moved waaaaay northwest and bought a car, so I have a bit more mobility now, but I am walking distance to the Crowfoot Safeway. It's cavernous. The east side of the store is particularly cave-like. And the AISLE running along the front of the store (between the checkouts and the wall) is wider than most of the STORES I shopped at when I lived in Italy! I can also walk to Amaranth now, but if you think Safeway is bad you should see what Amaranth charges for the same stuff!

                                                I miss Thrifty Foods... When I see (saw, I guess, now that I'm a driver) boys on the C-Train with reusable Thrifty Foods shoppings bags I wanted to jump on top of them...

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Jetgirly

                                                  i miss thrifty's too - i enjoyed the thunderstorms over the produce when they turned the water on :)

                                                2. This may sound a little boring but Costco's chicken is usually pretty consistent and reasonably priced.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Imac

                                                    Oh god, whats wrong with the fish in safeway, I just thought lately that 'geez the fish is cheap here thats great'! Are there horror stories?I know my friend bought some gamon steaks one day that were in the cheap section of safeway on 16th ave Nw and she went to cook them, it smelled more of pigs poop than what it should have, needless to say we did not eat it! UGH ! I think i do alot of pointing in Safeway comparing how its cheaper in the superstore!!