South Shore Safeway opens |

South Shore Safeway opens

Grocery shoppers poured into Safeway for its opener Wednesday, dispersing to the various expanded or new departments with free abandon.

The store’s new Starbucks coffee kiosk kept customers buzzing around the front of the store at high noon.

“It hasn’t stopped since 6 a.m.,” Starbucks kiosk Manager Dawn Parkhurst said of the $13 million revamp that required a major move of inventory.

Outside, wood-carved totems flank the entrance to the 55,000-square-foot supermarket off Johnson Lane and U.S. Highway 50 designed to replace the old store on the same lot.

Inside, characteristics like wider aisles, more merchandise and specialty departments like the Starbucks kiosk were intended to make the store inviting to the shopper, managers said.

The kiosk became South Shore resident Katie Henry’s favorite department.

“It’s nice to have coffee while you’re shopping,” she said as she exited the store with her husband Shannon and 6-week-old daughter Michelle.

Instead of buying the caffeine juice, Pamela Thomas of South Lake Tahoe bought fruit juice and a toy for her granddaughter that she “couldn’t find anywhere else,” she said, coming out of the store.

Thomas said she’d return with the Starbucks mug she received as a Christmas present.

It was like Christmas for every sweet tooth in the crowd at the store’s larger bakery, where samples of red velvet cake and apple pie were handed out. Only one child and none of the adults declined the cake, a bakery employee said.

Samples abounded throughout the afternoon in the new structure built adjacent to the former store that’s less than half the size.

By midday, the supermarket’s opening met Store Manager Bob Vukobradovich’s expectations, he said, as employees stood at attention like diplomats near the checkouts.

For some, it’s the first introduction to the store.

To familiarize both the staffers and customers to the inventory, color-coded maps were passed out near the entrance.

Many customers had no trouble finding the items they sought.

Richard Perry, a Heavenly employee who said he’s planning to learn how to ski, cruised out of the store with a shopping cart full of goods. It was Perry’s turn to shop for his six roommates, but that’s OK. The South African native was somewhat spellbound by the bright-light, big-city supermarket.

“We don’t have stores that big in South Africa,” Perry said.

The buying spree wasn’t reserved to South Shore newcomers.

“I just came in for a couple things,” local Diane Wurzer said in the frozen food aisle while standing next to a heaping cart.

Many shoppers were lured by the discounts and choices.

Courtesy clerk Theresa Cress said she helped one customer to the parking lot with three, full shopping carts.

Safeway incorporated several specialty departments into its new building, including a Chinese food take-out restaurant, pharmacy and the one-hour photo center.

The store’s floral section enlarged by about three times the size of the old department. Produce also extended its reach in the store somewhat modeled after the Safeway store in Kings Beach built two years ago.

Next month, the former store will be demolished to make room for a larger parking lot. In May, landscaping will be added.

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