Haggen Packs Up to Leave Ashland
Eli Stillman, Editor in Chief
Just as fast as the Safeway on Siskiyou transformed into Haggen it will now be shutting down altogether in a few weeks. The Pacific Northwest grocery store chain that bought up more than 140 Albertsons, Safeways and Vons this summer has stopped stocking shelves in preparation for closure. On September 9th this year, Haggen filed for Bankruptcy, only six months after expanding their stores to Oregon, California, Arizona and Nevada.
The final decision to abandon some stores like the one in Ashland comes after multiple attempts at bailing out failing stores in the competitive Southern California markets to no avail. The chain showed itself to be in trouble when they started laying off employees in multiple stores up and down the West Coast.
As of June, there were 20 Haggen stores in the state of Oregon, all of which had been converted from either Safeway or Albertsons. Transitioning from one grocery store isn’t particularly uncommon. Often, as was the case for the Safeway that stood on Siskiyou since the 1960’s, the building remained largely the same as did the employees. The only real changes included item brands, prices and logos around the store. What’s different here was the rapid expansion and deflation of a chain.
Haggen, which started in Bellingham, Washington only had 18 stores around the state until recently. A 9.4 billion dollar merger deal between Von’s and Safeway meant that to create healthy competition, the one company could not monopolize grocery stores in one area. As a result, many of the Safeway and Albertsons stores were sold to Haggen in order to comply with Federal Trade Commission laws.
Haggen prides itself on customer service and quality items. Some rank it above Albertsons but a step below Market of Choice in the grocery store hierarchy. But are customers willing to pay more for a bit of better service when out getting their supplies?
“They bit off a lot, and obviously it was a little more than they could chew,” said Jim Prevor, a food analyst and founder of PerishablePundit.com told the L.A.Times. “The losses must be very severe for them to move this quickly.”
The final date for the closure of Haggen on Siskiyou is unknown and as of right now even employee’s are unaware of what is going to happen to the building that’s catered to Ashland shoppers for more than 60 years.
“We’re not supposed to talk about it, but It’s pretty shitty,” said one Haggen employee who asked to remain anonymous. After working in the Safeway for 12 years and being retrained last spring, she hopes to collect unemployment until she can find another job upon the store’s closure. “Haggen screwed up and this is just how it is.”