Community fears Safeway shutdown

More than 1,200 local residents are petitioning to keep the Safeway at the Watergate complex open, triggered by rumors that the supermarket might board up following the Whole Foods Market’s opening at The Avenue.

Marija Hughes said she began collecting signatures in June to urge the supermarket’s corporate arm to renew the store’s lease this December.

“I cannot give my whole paycheck and social security to Whole Foods,” Hughes, a Watergate resident who has lived in Foggy Bottom for 42 years, said. “If there’s low income or moderate income [customers] and they cannot shop here, where are they going to go?”

She stood in front of Safeway for weeks asking customers to keep the moderately-priced store alive, she said.

Hughes mailed a copy of the petition to Safeway’s California headquarters Aug. 31 with nearly 1,200 signatures. Since then, she said she’s gathered about 100 more names.

Students can relate to her price concerns at other grocery stores, Hughes said, adding that she earned two degrees from GW.

“I’m fighting because I was a student,” she said. “I understand not everyone has lot of money.”

Community leaders offered their support of the Safeway store.

“Given the intense neighborhood usage of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, it is clear the community can support three robust grocery stores,” Asher Corson, advisory neighborhood commissioner, said.

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