Shoppers left pondering options while 3 Saskatoon Safeway stores converted to FreshCo

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WATCH: Seniors left pondering options as Market Mall Safeway prepares to close for change-over to FreshCo – Feb 19, 2020

The temporary closing of three Safeway stores in Saskatoon is leaving some customers wondering where to buy their groceries.

The stores at Confederation Mall, Market Mall, and at 33rd Street West and Avenue C North are closing on Feb. 29 and being converted to FreshCo stores.

Empire Company Ltd., the parent company, said the stores will be closed for four to five months for renovations and construction and will re-open in the summer.

READ MORE: 4 Safeway locations in Saskatchewan converting to FreshCo stores

That’s leaving shoppers wondering where they’ll shop in the meantime.

Eleanor Franson says she likes to ride her scooter to the Safeway at Market Mall every couple of weeks to pick up items.

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“With the scooter, I can put a box under my seat and I can bring back enough groceries to last me that long,” Franson said.

She says she will have to rely on Access Transit more often, and doing so will take away her ability to make last-minute trips.

Mike Moellenbeck, the acting director of Saskatoon Transit, in a statement, said: “the closure of Safeway at this location is not anticipated to impact Access Transit.”

The statement also said the City of Saskatoon will begin changing transit routes at the end of the month “to better serve the shopping needs of certain communities… ensuring those who currently use the Market Mall Safeway have an accessible alternative.” A spokesperson also said the city’s transit fleet is “100 per cent accessible.”

Franson said she was also concerned about the added cost if she can’t just take her scooter down the street.

“You have to book your Access bus ahead of time. So you kind of watch what you’re doing,” she explained.

“It’s not always the time you want. So far, I’ve always managed to get it. I do know people that have said they couldn’t get on it the days they wanted to.”

Then there’s the added cost.

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“You kind of got to be careful how many times you go. Even that extra $5 every time you go, it mounts up after a while,” Franson said.

The change-over is part of Empire Co. Ltd.’s plan to convert roughly 25 per cent of its Safeway and Sobeys stores in Western Canada to its discount banner.

READ MORE: 25% of Western Canada Sobeys, Safeway converting to discount FreshCo banner

The three Saskatoon stores, along with one in Regina, are the first in the province being converted.

Sobeys said it regrets the inconvenience the closure will cause customers.

“When renovating stores to better serve the community, we work closely with our operations and construction partners with the aim of completing these projects as quickly as possible,” a company spokesperson told Global News.

“We sincerely apologize to the local community for the inconvenience that the construction and renovations may cause.”

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Saskatoon Farmers’ Market opens new location – Jan 4, 2020

For Franson, the inconvenience goes beyond shopping.

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“You meet a lot of people over there that you know, which is kind of an outing for the day,” she said.

“And I know a lot of people walk over there every day just because it’s an outing.”

The company said pharmacies at the affected stores will stay open during renovations and construction, albeit in temporary locations.

Nathaniel Dove contributed to this story

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